Posted by Joshua on Saturday, May 31st, 2008
German Paper Speculates About Syrian Nuclear Facilities
BBC Monitor Euro
2008-05-31 12:45 (New York)
Text of report Clemens Wergin, "Even more secret nuclear facilities in Syria?", in right-of-centre daily German newspaper Die Welt on 30 May
Berlin: On 6 September 2007 Israeli fighter jets destroyed a lone building in northern Syria. According to the Israelis and the Americans, it housed a secret nuclear facility, which had been built with North Korean assistance and given the code name Al-Kibar by the Syrians. Die Welt has learned from Western security circles that this was not the only place where the Syrians carried out secret nuclear activities. Thus, US authorities apparently have information about two more nuclear facilities in Syria, about which they have also by now told the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]. This was also reported by the Washington Post yesterday.
IAEA Director Muhammad al-Baradi'i had long been accusing the Americans of not cooperating with the IAEA on Syria. This has by now changed. At the end of April Al-Baradi'i received relevant information about the Syrian nuclear programme from the United States. "According to this information, the reactor was not yet functioning and no nuclear material had yet been inserted," Al- Baradi'i said at the time. Apparently, however, the United States has also passed on information about other development facilities in Syria. Security circles say that, following information from the United States, at the
beginning of May the IAEA sent a letter to the Syrian leadership, asking them to allow the IAEA access to two additional facilities.
This reportedly caused great excitement among the Syrian leadership, who have been pretending the need for technical clarifications since then so as not to let the inspectors into the country, which they are obliged to do in line with the Non- proliferation Treaty, which Syria signed.
Already when the IAEA expressed interest in visiting Al-Kibar, Syria obviously sought advice from its Iranian allies, who have been stalling the IAEA for years when it comes to their nuclear activities.
According to information obtained by Die Welt, Iranian experts had lorry-loads of earth excavated at the site of the bombing and all remaining building evacuated so that potential samples would no longer show any traces of nuclear activities. New soil was then brought along and a new building the size of the destroyed one was built, which is now declared as a missile-defence base so as to limit access by IAEA inspectors. These activities have been documented and published by the Americans. However, so far it has not been publicly known that they seem to be based on suggestions by Iranian experts. Iran had taken similarly-radical measures at its own nuclear research facility in Lavizan so as not to permit the IAEA to make any conclusions as to nuclear tests carried out there.
Pictures released by the US administration seem to confirm that Al-Kibar was a plutonium reactor of the North Korean type. Security circles said that the timing of the Israeli attack was connected with intelligence service reports about a shipment of nuclear material from North Korea to Syria. As soon as a reactor is put into operation, it is too late to bomb it because its destruction would harbour the risk of nuclear contamination.
If the accusations are substantiated, the dimension of North Korean help for Syria would surpass even the nuclear smuggling network of Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who had delivered sensitive know-how to North Korea, Libya and Iran. It would be the first time that a country illegally sold technology for a complete military nuclear facility.
According to information obtained by Die Welt, the secret nuclear programme is known only to President Bashar al-Asad's closest circle and is headed by Ibrahim Uthman, director of the Syrian Nuclear Energy Commission.
Originally published by Die Welt, Berlin, in German 30 May 08.
WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) — U.S. officials asked U.N. inspectors to expand their search for secret nuclear plants in Syria, hinting Damascus may have a bigger program than once thought. U.S. officials have identified at least three possible sites and forwarded the information to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is negotiating with Syria for permission to conduct inspections, The Washington Post reported Friday.