Moustapha: We know “the Gates of Hell” would open beneath us if we planned a nuke

The Syrian nuke issue remains a "he-said-she said" issue until the photos are made available for public scrutiny.

Interview with Imad Moustapha, Syrian Ambassador to Washington.

The Israelis know very well, and the United States knows absolutely well, that there is no Syrian nuclear program whatsoever. It’s an absolutely blatant lie. And it’s not like they think we have but they’re not sure. They know. Let me be clear about it: Syria has never, ever contemplated acquiring nuclear technology. We are not contemplating it today. We are not contemplating doing this in the future – neither for military nor for civilian purposes.

All I’m saying is that every story that has to do with a Syrian nuclear program is an absolutely false story, full stop. Nothing whatsoever that Syria is doing has to do with nuclear technology for reasons that are simple for anyone to analyze: We are realists. We understand that if Syria even contemplated nuclear technology, then the gates of hell would open on us.

In Syria, we believe that the only way forward is to reach a peace agreement with the Israelis. We are realists. We do understand that the Israelis enjoy military superiority compared to the Syrian capabilities. … We also understand that the Israelis know very well that, despite their sheer military superiority, they cannot impose on us forever their policies of occupation. …

Then what did Israel attack?

Israel attacked a military installation in Syria. This is not unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. … It was a military warehouse. …  

I have written three letters to The New York Times telling them: Have you forgotten what you have done prior to the Iraq war, when you published all the fallout stories about the Iraqi WMDs? Don’t you realize that you’re being “Judith Millered” for the second time within five years? I’m trying to tell The New York Times: Look, be careful. Can’t you see that you are being led into extremely dangerous territory? You are accusing a country of doing something it has not even contemplated doing – based on nothing. Based on leaks from Israeli agents who are very happy playing this game.

Photographs Said to Show Israeli Target Inside Syria
By Robin Wright and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 24, 2007; Page A01

Independent experts have pinpointed what they believe to be the Euphrates River site in Syria that was bombed by Israel last month, and satellite imagery of the area shows buildings under construction roughly similar in design to a North Korean reactor capable of producing nuclear material for one bomb a year, the experts say.

Photographs of the site taken before the secret Sept. 6 airstrike depict an isolated compound that includes a tall, boxy structure similar to the type of building used to house a gas-graphite reactor. They also show what could have been a pumping station used to supply cooling water for a reactor, say experts David Albright and Paul Brannan of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

U.S. and international experts and officials familiar with the site, who were shown the photographs yesterday, said there was a strong and credible possibility that they depict the remote compound that was attacked. Israeli officials and the White House declined to comment.

Addendum: t_desco wrote in the comment section,

"Speaking of picturesSyrian Reactor Update CBS News.

To me it does look similar to the Yongbyon reactor, which is compared in this article:

ISIS Imagery Brief: PDF
Suspect Reactor Construction Site in Eastern Syria: The Site of the September 6 Israeli Raid?
by David Albright and Paul Brannan
October 24, 2007

 'Airburst' tests signal Syrian intentions for missile warheads

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence has acquired evidence that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has enhanced its nonconventional warheads for the Scud C and Scud D ballistic missiles. Officials said Damascus has developed airburst capability for its ballistic missiles that would enable the warheads to detonate in the air. "Airburst capability would make chemical and biological weapons warheads much more lethal," an official said. Officials said the Syrian military has conducted ballistic missile airburst tests over the last year for both conventional and nonconventional warheads. They said the program was meant to develop a warhead that would explode several hundred meters in the air to allow for maximum distribution of lethal agents. The U.S. intelligence community has been unable to determine the success of Syria's efforts, officials said. But they said the airburst requirement was crucial for Syria's chemical weapons program. Syria has been aided by North Korea and perhaps Iran in developing airburst capability, the officials said. Both countries have established a significant presence in Syria and were facilitating Damascus's ballistic missile and nonconventional weapons programs. The intelligence community has also determined that North Korea was helping Syria advance in its nascent nuclear program. But the community has been divided over the pace of Syrian nuclear development. In July 2007, Israel relayed satellite images to the United States of a building said to be used for Syria's nuclear weapons program. Officials said the Bush administration was divided over the significance of the Israeli intelligence, which led to an Israel Air Force strike on a Syrian military base near the Iraqi border on Sept. 6.

Comments (116)

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101. abraham said:

Actually, we are talking about why Israel bombed Syrian territory unprovoked.

Remember, two wrongs don’t make a right (but three lefts do).

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October 26th, 2007, 4:08 am


102. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Oh really? I’ll answer your question. Why don’t you answer my questions? Is it too dificult with the rule in force?

The reason Israel attacked the site:

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October 26th, 2007, 4:13 am


103. Thomas said:

I find it interesting that 6 weeks ago when the Israeli strike occurred in Syria that the Dr. Landis was out in front arguing that Syria did not have and could not have any nuclear intentions. Furthermore, Dr. Landis argued that Mr. Bolton was wrong in his earlier assertions related to Syria’s nuclear intentions. Well looks like Dr. Landis’ arguments were likely very misguided…..just about the same way as U.S. intelligence was misguided about Iraqi WMDs. While the jury is still out on Syrian WMDs, the evidence is clearly favoring the NEOCONS on this particular debate. Just makes me wonder how many other things Dr. Landis is misguided on as it relates to this great place we know as Syria.

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October 26th, 2007, 5:11 am


104. MSK said:

Dear Alex,

I didn’t say anything about Kurds in Syria. I was referencing Kurds in Turkey and Palestinians west of the Jordan River.

As for borders, I have no idea. Maybe some current countries will merge, maybe some current countries will split.

Maybe Lebanon/Syria/Iraq/Jordan will merge. Maybe Syria will split up into four different countries. Maybe “Syria-Euphrat” will merge with “West Iraq”. Maybe the Bekaa will merge with “Homs/Hama”. Maybe Israel will exist in the pre-67 borders. Maybe all of historical Palestine will have gone up in flames.

I’m not a political scientist – I don’t make predictions. And I’m not Michel Hayek, either. 😉

Dear T-Desco,

I’d asked Nibras Kazemi on his blog about some of the gaps in the story but he never responded. (Although we may all want to hold our final comments until he publishes the last parts of the transcript & his own analysis, as in the last part Faisal seems to have recanted much of what he’d said earlier and it also transpires that he gave a lot of false statements.) I am very much looking forward to your post, which I hope Josh or Alex will put on the main blog page so it doesn’t get lost among the comments.


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October 26th, 2007, 6:13 am


105. why-discuss said:

Israel and jewish diaspora
“It might seem extraordinary to Zionism’s founding fathers that even today, many more Jews choose to live outside Israel than in the Jewish State.
In very rough terms Israel accounts for about one third of the world Jewish population. Rather more Jews live in the United States than in Israel.”


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October 26th, 2007, 6:17 am


106. Alex said:


“Are YOU in denial?? Didn’t YOU say you were a Hamas supporter?”

No .. sorry. I do not have dual personality. I am not a Hamas supporter and I am not an enemy of Hamas.

I would not live in a place governed by Hamas if I had the echoice.

But few years ago Hamas won democratic elections. Hamas is still one of the top two parties (if you want to call them a party) representing the Palestinians. So I do not believe you should boycott Hamas or try to destroy Hamas.

If you want to score a point, you can continue to understand my words in the most messed up way… but this simplification “Hamas supporter” is what I will start to delete … as I said earlier: enough silliness.

As for the rules, you are right .. we do not have rules… Joshua is quite flexible. But this flexibility was intended to make the comments section more interesting.

Repeating “hamas supporter” and “anti Semitic” a million times is not interesting. Your challenge is to answer with logic, not with personality attacks and insults. I remember we had two Lebanese “contributors” here .. Gibran and G. Both had nothing to say other than “the filthy Syrian regime” and “regime supporter”. I told them at the time that I will not allow anymore insults … they disappeared… they had nothing constructive to say.


Antisemitism will always be there … the world is full of Anti everything. Go to some parts of the Untied States and ask them what they think of Muslims … go to Saudi arabia and ask them what they think of Hindus and Buddhists.

As I said, this s not the place to participate in a rally against antisemitism or democracy. you made your point already… repeating it is only useful for name calling.

So I am comfortable asking you to please reduce its use dramatically … only when it is really necessary to analyze a related event… not as an automatic entry in the first paragraph of your replies to SimuHurrta. I bet you that Simohurrta was not this negative regarding Israel when he first started participating in Syria comments … but a year of listening to Akbar Palace calling him antisemite everyday … YOU make him have increasingly negative attitudes towards you when you insult his intelligence.

If you have any doubt … compare how I communicate with you with how I communicated with the Israelis on my Creative Syria Golan Forum.

So I have had enough trying to counter your negativity with equal negativity .. what you called “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

Now for the more relevant question: Antisemitism in Syria

Yes, we have many people who would say “I hate those Jews the dogs”… and yes, few decades ago there was real hate for the jews … when you took Palestine … did you expect them to love you?

But the short answer to your fears … Syrians will not be killing Jews. They will continue to welcome any Jewish American visitor with generosity that they won’t experience anywhere else they travel.

As I said … it is not worse than antisemitism in many other places.

I will give you one case where you deserve to be upset at “the regime” … when Bashar welcomed the late Pope in Damascus … he mentioned that Jews killed Jesus Christ!

That was terrible thing to say … I have no idea what was the point.

But I know (not a guess r analysis) that it does not reflect in anyway his real positions and beliefs.

I can explain much better .. but it is totally a waste of time .. you don’t read well .. you don’t trust.

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October 26th, 2007, 6:31 am


107. Mark Pyruz said:

Returning to the specified topic, I’ve the following to contribute from Alastair Crooke @ Conflicts Forum

“The Syrians saw on their radars the four Israeli aircraft that penetrated into Northern Syria from the Mediterranean; but they also saw the much larger numbers of Israeli aircraft that were flying in a holding position close to Cyprus. The Syrians had no intention of disclosing their anti-aircraft missile capacities to Israel; and the intruders continued without hindrance to drop munitions and their long-range fuel tanks without pressing any serious attack. The four aircraft then circuited to re-join the larger group still flying a holding pattern off Cyprus, before all returned to Israel as a single formation.”

“The Israeli objective remains a matter of speculation (no-one seriously credits the stories of North Korean nuclear malfeasance); but the general conclusion is that Israel was only ready to run such a risk against unknown air defenses either to test reactions; or, given the size of the numbers of aircraft off Cyprus, to destroy some target – possibly Syria’s long-range missiles – that for whatever reason they were unable to find, or destroy.”

BTW: Nour, thanks for posting those comments from Philip Girardi.

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October 26th, 2007, 6:46 am


108. SimoHurtta said:

As for the Arabs living in Israel. They are not part of the Jewish nation but they are Israelis. Having worked with Finnish companies I know for a fact that there is a sizable Swedish minority in Finland. The consider themselves of the Swedish nation even though they are Finnish citizens. I hope you are starting to get the picture.

Actually AIG that is not true what you say about the Swedish minority in Finland. The Swedish speaking minority is attached to their right to speak Swedish as their first language not to Sweden. That minority has been living in Finland for centuries. They do not consider themselves as Swedes, they consider themselves as Finns. Swedish speaking people can get their basis services in Swedish. Finland has a autonomic island state, Åland Islands. For the people there their main identity is to be an Åland citizen, not so much a Finn.

By the way, there numerous people with Finnish origins in Sweden. Some have moved there in the 60’s and 70’s, some’s ancestors have moved there centuries ago. Only the first generation Finns in Sweden identify themselves as Finns.

Finns and Swedes share a long common history and religion. Finland was part of Sweden until 1809 (and part of Russia 1809-1917). Once Norway, Estonia etc were parts of Sweden.

One can’t change his religion to become a member Finnish or Swedish nation. There is no law of return. 🙂

First, our Finnish friend compares Israel to Nazi Germany:

Well if you can call me an anti-Semite then you certainly are not offended when I call you and people like you modern time Nazis. You believe in religious/racial supremacy, you support occupation and the bad treatment of the slave races etc. Just like Nazis did. What is the difference in creating ghetto to Warsaw or to Gaza and West Bank? Nothing.

Still I can’t see any anti Semitic in that. I did NOT say Jews are Modern times Nazis. I referred clearly to people, who see Jews as a super race (Ûbermenschen), support Eretz Yisrael and bad treatment of Palestinians. Naturally I know that many Jews in Israel and abroad do not share this “Ûbermenschen ideology” and do not like the occupation and I have said it numerous of times.

When I have compared Nazi Germany and Israel I have done it only to point out the similarities in overblown nationalism and believe in own racial supremacy, racism, methods in treating the minorities and the aggressive “tendency” in creating more Lebensraum (Eretz Yisrael). There is nothing anti Semitic in making that comparison. Also is there nothing anti Semitic in comparing Iran and Israel on the basis that both nations are ruled using religion. AIG, IG and Akbar you are all the time comparing Arab countries to Israel.

People have the right to speak about, analyse and criticize Israel, like they have with any other country. If I criticize for example Burma’s junta, am I anti Buddhist? But when I point out, that Israel has been selling for a long time weapons to Burma’s junta I am said to be anti Semitic. When I criticize the wars and child soldiers in Africa, am I anti Christian/Muslim, anti Black etc? But when I point out that Israeli companies are actively behind the illegal arms trafficking and diamond trade in these wars, I am accused of being anti Semitic. Funny…

AIG, IG and Akbar you are inflating the word anti Semitic and it looses its effect. Israelis have during year accused several Nordic ministers for anti Semitism in criticising Israel policies and behaviour. Nobody takes those accusations any more seriously. And every time the word anti Semitic is used against “legitimate” critics of Israel it looses more of its effect. Sad, that you do not have any other arguments to defend Israel than using the famous anti Semitic defence. That only shows that there are very little factual arguments to be used to defend Israel’s behaviour in many cases.

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October 26th, 2007, 6:50 am


109. Guy Regev said:

We’d like to hear from the Main Man.
Professor Landis, you’ve seen the pictures, talked to your contacts and to journalists, heard Syrian officials.
What do you make of this?
Do you still believe it a neocon-hyped sham?
If you don’t, can you tell us a little about the Syrian rationale in building a reactor, the Israeli rationale in attacking it, the US debate about supporting the raid?
Are the Syrians still afraid of an Israeli ground attack this fall?
How does this reflect on the Iranian Issue?

Don’t leave us in the cold, Josh!

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October 26th, 2007, 11:00 am


110. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

“But I know (not a guess r analysis) that it does not reflect in anyway his real positions and beliefs.

I can explain much better .. but it is totally a waste of time .. you don’t read well .. you don’t trust.”

You are right that I develop trust slowly. You don’t trust Israelis also. That is what 60 years of conflict will do.

Maybe I won’t understand (though I read every word carefully) but others will, so why don’t you try to explain Bashar’s actions and why you are sure that these are not his true beliefs. Why would he say something like that, especially if he doesn’t believe it?

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October 26th, 2007, 12:09 pm


111. IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

I know you probably mean well, but I feel that your new set of rules is a grave mistake.
Free speech is the very essence of any valuable discussion and limiting it will simply kill this wonderful blog as a platform for good open discussions.

Free speech doesn’t come without a price.
Often, you’ll hear things that you’re not comfortable with, that you hate and that will make you angry, frustrated or sick.

There’s always a temptation to moderate the discussion and make it more “efficient”, “clean” or “civilized”.
I strongly disagree with such a strategy and it will kill people’s desire to participate in such debates.

If it was up to me, I’d censor only very extreme cases of racism (terms like Nigger, Kike, etc), spammers, blatant curses and that’s basically it.
If I’m in doubt regarding a specific borderline comment, I’d prefer to leave it untouched than erasing or modifying it.

I often hear Israeli Arab politicians who keep repeating the same arguments, which I believe to be totally false.
So what? It’s they’re right to say whatever they want and whenever they wish.

If I don’t want to listen, I can always move to another channel or read another article, but I won’t shut them up and forbid them from expressing their ideas, opinions and beliefs – even if they piss me off (and let’s face it – they do).

If they want to call Israel a racist state, Olmert a murderer and the IDF a state sponsored terror group – let them.
That’s the price of democracy that I’ll happily pay.
Well, maybe not happily – but I will pay it and I’ll never vote for the more convenient alternative.

I have to say that I find great pleasure in reading some great stuff here.
Some of the commentators here have fascinating things to say and I read every single word of their comments with great thirst.

There are probably only VERY FEW real racist and Anti Semite commentators that I’ve learned to know and I usually simply skip their comments.

Alex, censoring people is a bad idea – whatever the reason.
I urge you to reconsider the new policy and leave this pearl as it is.

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October 26th, 2007, 12:14 pm


112. Alex said:


The more efficient way of trying to convince you would be to ask Joshua to find me the link to a story he published a year or two ago. A Jewish American graduate student wrote a long paper on Syrian Jews in America. He interviewed many. He asked them specifically about what Bashar said in the presence of the Pope. I remember their answer was that it does not matter. We know he is a good man, like his father”

Some of them talked about the meeting they had with Hafez Assad, and how he promised them he will make sure they will feel safe and welcome in Syria just like any other Syrian citizen.

When Hafez Assad died, Syrian Jews in NJ mourned him.

Anyway, Joshua if you can please find that link, I’m sure many would enjoy reading it.


I will not overdo it, don’t worry.

I agree that many of the comments here are brilliant… and the vast majority are reasonable. But I have been asked many times lately to do something about the repetitive comments … it is getting boring to read the same thing again and again.

Any moderator on TV would do the same when he/she detects that one of the guest analysts is starting to repeat the same thing. They usually cut them and move to another person.

Besides… it is crazy to have 200+ comments. It is intimidating to many people who show up here once a week. They simply skip the comments section. Also, some journalists try to spend 30 minutes reading the comments section before they write a Syria related story .. they don’t have the time to read 200 comments.

Again, don’t worry. Here is how it works:

Let’s say AIG again accuses Simohurrta of being antisemitic. I will allow SimuHurrta an others to reply … once. Then if AIG and Simuhurrta try to do another round I will start deleting.

Please remember that this is not about if SimuHurrta is antisemitic or if Alex is a supporter of Hamas or if AIG is a racist …

We have many, many more interesting topics to discuss in the middle east … unfortunately.

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October 26th, 2007, 4:09 pm


113. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I have to admit that I don’t understand your answer. So what if a few Jews gave a diplomatic reply to a journalist? How does that explain or justify what Bashar did? And how do you know he didn’t really believe it?

And as for the reaction of Syrian Jews to Assad’s death, here is a more nuanced view:

Did you see fiddler on the roof? Jews always tend to “bless” the secualr ruler. In russia it is the Tsar who was despised. The “blessing” was: “God bless the Tsar . . . and keep him far away from us.”

I think this sums up what the Syrian Jews thought about Hafez. They “blessed” him after under pressure from the US he let 4000 leave.

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October 26th, 2007, 8:23 pm


114. Alex said:

Joshua .. please find us that post. Can you?

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October 26th, 2007, 8:27 pm


115. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The facts on the ground are that the Jewish community in Syria was 30,000 in 1947 and is less than a 100 now and most probably less than 30. This just is not compatible with your story that any Asad promised to take care or actually took care of the Jews and made them feel safe.

A community that is taken care of, or feels safe, does not disappear. It prospers. You have to face the fact that official state antisemitism over 60 years brought to end the 2,500 year presence of Jews in Syria. Sad but true. The results speak for themselves.

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October 26th, 2007, 9:19 pm


116. trustquest said:

The fact is that the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community in the Diasporas have more in common together than the Jewish community and the Assad sympathy for the Syrian Jewish community in New York. Notice that both communities grown in number for the same reason, dictatorship in Syria.

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October 27th, 2007, 12:32 am


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