Old Pictures of Syrian Nuke Site Suggest “Refried Beans”

More questions are being raised about the solidity of Washington's allegations that the site in Syria hit by Israel was a nuclear plant. A 2003 photo of the site has just been published by the NY Times, which forces us to go back to the four year old debates over whther Syria was developing nuclear power. Bolton and his neocon hawks lost the debate at the time. The CIA and State Department intelligence prevailed over neocon allegations. They argued that the Syrian danger was either being inflated or misread. 

In the intervening years, Bolton has tried to make the case for a nuclear Syria three times. Each time he was wrong. The three times were: 1. He accused Syria of taking in Saddam's WMD and nuclear stuff. He was wrong. 2. He accused Syria of being part of the Khan, Pakistani ring of nuclear proliferators along with Libya. Wrong. Mohammed el Beradae said no indication of this existed and challenged Bolton, who backed down. 3. Finally, a ship traveling from North Korea to Syria was stopped in Nicosia, Cyprus and searched because Interpol indicated it was transporting nuclear technology. It turned out to have nothing but defensive missile technology aboard. It was allowed to continue on its way. Three times Bolton tried to accuse Syria of developing nuclear weapons and came up short. What is different about this time?

The mystery surrounding the construction of what might have been a nuclear reactor in Syria deepened yesterday, when a company released a satellite photo showing that the main building was well under way in September 2003 — four years before Israeli jets bombed it.

The long genesis is likely to raise questions about whether the Bush administration overlooked a nascent atomic threat in Syria while planning and executing a war in Iraq, which was later found to have no active nuclear program.

A senior American intelligence official said yesterday that American analysts had looked carefully at the site from its early days, but were unsure then whether it posed a nuclear threat. …

In the summer of 2003, Mr. Bolton’s testimony on Capitol Hill was delayed after a dispute erupted in part over whether Syria was actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. Some intelligence officials said Mr. Bolton overstated the Syrian threat.

“There was disagreement about what Syria was interested in and how much we should be monitoring it,” Mr. Bolton said in an interview yesterday. “There was activity in Syria that I felt was evidence that they were trying to develop a nuclear program.”

Mr. Bolton declined to say whether he had knowledge at the time about the site that the Israelis struck in September.

Spokesmen for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council declined to comment.

Phantoms Over Syria
Eveything Israel wants you to know about its secret airstrike
by Philip Giraldi 

There are other reasons that depicting Damascus as the latest nuclear aspirant is suspect. Destroying a weapons facility would scatter traces of radioactive material that could be detected, especially since the attack took place close to the Turkish border. No such evidence has been reported. Also notable is the absence of solid intelligence. If Israel knows conclusively that Syria has a nuclear program, surely it would have made its case in the wake of the Sept. 6 raid. Far from doing so, Tel Aviv has kept a security lid on the incident, suggesting that it would prefer to promote the story of a military success against Damascus without being too specific about the details.

Even the Bush White House, generally willing to use any hint of malfeasance to condemn Damascus and Tehran, has been reluctant to confirm the story. It doesn’t need to. Official silence—narrated by a compliant press taking uncorroborated dictation—is cementing a public impression. That’s the way disinformation works. Done right, no one stops to ask where it came from—or who benefits……

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a partner in Cannistraro Associates, an international security consultancy.  

A British civil engineer, who explains that his "father worked as an engineer in the British nuclear power industry on among, other items, refueling machines for gas-cooled reactors and fuel design for breeder reactors. I visited my first nuclear power station (a Magnox one) in my early teens." [The Syrian and North Korean sites were copied from a British Magnox prototype.] He writes


If the Syrian Ambassador says that the building hit was a military warehouse then I am inclined to believe him with the only qualification that if the building in the ISIS report was indeed the target then it could more accurately be described as a storage bunker.

The ISIS report states that the North Korean reactor is based on an old Russian design. This is rubbish, any expert would know that the North Koreans based their reactor on the old British Magnox design.

The building shown in the ISIS report does not correspond with existing known Magnox reactor sites for one very simple reason. Where are all the ancillary buildings? If you look at the Yongbyon site in North Korea or the Calder Hall and Chapelcross sites in the UK, you will see a large number of ancillary buildings which contain such facilities as canteens, washrooms and changing facilities laboratories and offices. Where are the spent fuel storage facilities?

For example, the Calder Hall site consists of 62 separate buildings – OK, there are four larger reactors at Calder Hall but I would certainly expect to see more than the "reactor building" and one additional building of indeterminate use. If you look at Yongbyon you will also see a fuel fabrication, plutonium reprocessing and laboratory facilities next door to the reactor. Fuel fabrication for the UK Magnox reactors was admittedly performed at another site (Springfield in Lancashire) but that was because the British intended to have a large civilian nuclear program as well and fuel reprocessing was performed at the Windscale next door to Calder Hall.

Now some may say that it is in the early stages of construction and that the ancillary building will appear later so where are the construction materials and the site offices – just look at any large construction project to see what I mean.

Magnox reactors are gas-cooled rather than water cooled so there would need to be a heat exchanger to transfer heat to the cooling water – no sign of that or the associated pipe work yet – so is the “pump” a pump?

The North Koreans have ringed the reactor at Yongbyon with 22 missile batteries according to the Global Security website – one would expect the Syrians to do something similar – they have done this at their alleged chemical weapons site at Al Saffir.

Finally, the building is not tall enough – the fuel channels in a Magnox reactor run vertically and the fuel elements need to be handled with a refuelling machine to protect the site workers from radiation from the spent fuel. Typically, there is one fuel element per channel so the refuelling machine needs to be taller than the reactor core is high. So, to accommodate the refuelling machine there needs to be a substantial space above the top of the reactor. The two ISIS analysts allude to this in their comments:

The taller roof of North Korea’s reactor measures approximately 32 meters by 24 meters on its sides. There also appears to be a faint square on top of the Syrian building’s roof. It is unclear whether something would be built there, but its dimensions, 24 meters by 22 meters, are consistent with the subsequent construction of an upper roof.

To build a reinforced concrete roof and then almost immediately cut a hole in it to build an extension on top is just plain stupid. Once you start assembling the reactor core out of graphite blocks, there is no way that you would contemplate further unnecessary construction work above that.

Regards, …
High Wycombe, UK

Yesterday William Arkin wrote that it was “hard to believe that Syria … is stupid enough to think it could build a nuclear reactor and get away with it”.

Steve Clemons raises the same question:

“But on a more theoretical level, I guess one question I have is why would Syria even start down that path given all that Iran is now going through. Missile enhancements seems understandable — but this nuke path, if correct, doesn’t make strategic sense.”
The Washington Note

Comments (111)

Pages: « 1 2 [3] Show All

101. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


Why are you escaping the obvious? Syria cleaned the site. What is there to inspect? The Syrians do not want and will not agree to inspections. What would it have helped if Israel would have given the info to the IAEA?

You want thousands of pictures? Where do you think these will come from? The Finnish government? Let the IAEA do their job if they can. To me it seems that they are a paper tiger. Inspections are needed for the evidence you want, how convenient that the Syrians will not allow inspections and have cleaned the site so as to make inspections useless.

As I said, if a hospital would have been hit, there would be 1000 journalists there. The Syrian coverup is an admission of guilt.

You do not believe the NY times or the Washington post but you put your faith in a Pakistani news paper or a book by authors that you don’t know anything about. Your standards are curious. In any case, letting Pakistan get a bomb was a mistake and I am glad if my country tried to stop it. Too bad that the Americans at that time did not see the repercussions of that. The Pakistanis have been the major proliferators of nuclear technology and sold expertise both the North Korea and Iran. Syria got its technology from North Korea. By stopping Pakistan, the world would have been much safer.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 1:28 am


102. norman said:

Aren’t Israel and the US the most dangerous to world peace not Syria or Iran.!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 1:47 am


103. abraham said:

Ugh. I guess Alex may have been onto something when she suggested we ban sarcasm.


More to the point, AIG thinks that it’s OK for someone to make an accusation against another, and then make that other person prove the accusation is not true. So, for example, Israel has accused Syria of starting a nuclear program, so now Syria must prove it does not have a nuclear program.

Now, I have “intelligence” that AIG is a child molester. I am not saying he is, I am just saying I might have “intelligence”. “Data”. “Information”.

So, it is now incumbant on AIG to prove he is not, in fact, a child molester.

I love how the logic in the land of the insane works. It takes the burden of proof off of the accuser and puts it on the accused, just like it should be!*

* in Israel

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 3:31 am


104. abraham said:

Of course, leave it to the zionists to misinterpret what you say and then demonize you for it. Do zionists naturally have poor reading comprehension skills?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 3:36 am


105. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sorry, but I find many debators here irrational. They make claims about Israel without any proof while rejecting any evidence against Syria as not proof enough. Really amusing.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 3:59 am


106. ausamaa said:

Anotherisraeliguy says:

“They make claims about Israel without any proof”

Yeh, it is all lies and misconceptions. Israel is a Democratic, Humanitarian, Peace-Loving state,except for… hmmm, well, nevermind, it is not worth arguing about!

It is becoming rather a boring exchange! So why even bother?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 4:21 am


107. T said:

NO ONE is attacking Catholics. Quoting or referring to court cases that are of several years duration in the news media is not hate speech or Catholic bashing. Fact- these court cases/settlements are high profile public record. Very sorry to have brought it up to begin with as it unfortunately diverted attention from the real issue.
This is a political blog, not Fox news.
(And please dont call me a “she” or this whole ridiculous thing will somehow segue into a sex change discussion. I am happy the way I am! and please no hate-speech accusations based on sexism).

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 5:49 am


108. ausamaa said:


You sure dont sound like a she, to me at least. “SHE”s are usually smart and do not invoke Catholics, Prpostants and Baptists into their speach. And if they do, they do not equate them “progressive and humanitarian” Zionism. Actually I missed the whole point about Catholics.

And ABRAHAMS, I like your views, but Alex is a man, so do not get carried away. He is soft spoken, but he is a Guy!

Josh, what the heck is happening here? Fame is OK, but serious discussion is something else. ISRAELIGUY, ANOTHERISRAELIGUY, and similars?? I do miss Jibran, remember him??!!

I can digest the Harriri Syria-bashing crowd more than the Nuclear Dair Al Zour Nuclear Plant stuff enthusiastic crowd. And in Dair Al Zour of all places? And four years old stuff? And everyone is coy about it? WOW! Actually, I am sure Syria Must become Nuclear one day if peacefull Israel is, but I do not believe the notion that Syria is becoming seriously Nuclear now. It could have bought a couple of N Bombs instead of wasting time developing the. And, heck, Syria did what it wanted to do, stood up to all, and managed fine without being Nuclear, and the Nuclears got defeated, that is good enough for me. For now at least.

Habibi, Syria will remain what it it is. It screwed the whole neo-cons project and what is done is done. Like in the song, Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Hey Hey , Goodbye. It is safe now. Strong and defiant as ever, It is moving on -in my beleife-, moving on but not fast enough maybe. But the neo-cons bad times are behind for all what it was worth.

But this is getting out of hand if we have to spend hours discussing and ethnically-racist Israel and exonrating it, and discussing Brazilian Sattelite pics.

I envy Alex for his patience, but Alex, words never achieve nothing with such maniacs. They know where the buddies are buried -and who slaughtered them too-, so why waste time convincing them of anything.

I really miss the Gibran days!!!! At least he was sincere in what he beleived in, no Stupid and CHUTZPAH speaches like the more recent new comers. They want to defend Israli crimes on a Syrian oriented site!!!!

Shoo Sayer haoun ya ammy????

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 9:26 am


109. Zenobia said:

Can I just step in here to point out what a ridiculous game of “who’s on first”….. this dialogue turned into. It is like a verbal exchange from Alice in Wonderland.
Yes, sarcasm is bad because the commentors are too literal to recognize when someone is being ironic.

However, for clarification,….. there was nothing going on here about sex or anybody molesting anybody….Catholics….or T’s gender!… you guys are nuts.
This all started from one tiny comment of Abraham’s……
“Why don’t you do it and prove that the Israelis are lying?

Why don’t you first prove that you don’t molest children?

but he wasn’t simply being sarcastic.
He was making an analogy.….. and it is an analogy that has some relevance to the debate going on back and forth between AIG and Simo Hurtta.
basically, Abraham was saying that if one is to follow the RULE of LAW… the burden of proof is on the Israelis to show that their accusations are true. The burden is not first on the Syrians to defend themselves.
That is how modern law works. Hence, you can’t ask someone to prove they are not a ‘child molester’..without a shred of evidence first being presented to bring some reasonable cause for the accusation. Or, as the famous expression goes…similarly, to ask some one… “so how long you have you been beating your wife?….” when there has been no prior proof that a person is a wife beater in the first place.

The IAEA has the responsibility, for good reason obviously, of being the impartial mediator to ask Syria for evidence of its non-nuclear status…. only AFTER there has been some formal process of evidence presented to the international community that shows a likelihood of Syria’s guilt.
It would be hubris and arrogance for Israel to just make its claims… hurl accusations, present no unambiguous evidence, and then just call it “yesterday’s new” , yesterday’s war, case closed.
THEY are the one’s making the claim….and by any form of civilized law they have to justify it…to the international community…if they consider themselves to be part of that community.

Finally, on the conclusion of AIG that: “The Syrian coverup is an admission of guilt.
Really, I think it is a fallacy to just assume this.
I follow your logic. But, interestingly, Saddam Hussein also didn’t expose his hand of cards willingly. He also was accused of hiding and…resisting open cooperative submission. In a much more serious way than anything going on with Syria.
and main point is that Saddam, after all….didn’t have the WMD.

So, is it possible that other motivations are present when Arab leaders resist exposure to the international community??? Is it possible that other – explanations are at work here..???

Could it be…simply, PRIDE????? I happen to think that is a huge part of it.
AIG….also uses to make his point….the fact that other Arab leaders and countries didn’t rush to defend Syria or to criticize Israel’s raid and assault on the site.
AIG concludes that therefore…..this non-response must be a confirmation that these other countries and leaders know that Syria is up to no good…or is guilty.

I reject this conclusion also. Again, I think we miss something very obvious about dynamics in the ME… and with the leaders. They hate to say or do anything in regards to Israel that in any way recognizes or draws attention to Israeli power, especially military power.
Of course this is logically ridiculous. Because everybody knows how much military might Israel has.
But politically, and I am referring in large part to internal political rhetoric and behavior,…. Arab leaders know how to respond in the face of their furious public. The arab peoples hate, absolutely hate to hear about Israeli strength. And so any mention of it….even an acknowledgment of how Israel’s military can just do what it wants with relative immunity is practically taboo to give any lip service to.
the Arab leaders would much prefer to just ignore such incidents. They act like if they pretend it isn’t happening then it helps negate the reality.
The Syrian leadership acts the same way…. even when it has happened right on their own land.
the Syrians would view….even attempting to defend themselves (…even in the face of unfounded accusations) as almost SHAMEFUL, and to submit incurs a giant loss of face as well as an admission of weakness or fear, and finally, therefore a kind of terrible humiliation (which is kind of worse than death to the arab mentality). It may be a idiotic mentality worthy of ridicule, but at least, we should not misinterpret what it is and what is going on.

Why haven’t the Israelies come to understand this?
They don’t get is about Hezballah. They don’t get it about the Palestinians. The don’t get it about the whole Arab world around them and including the Persians.

But the other conclusion that needs to be made is this: that such incredible defiance and resistance occurring in many instances in the middle east conflicts cannot be used to corroborate guilt or to assume it.
that isn’t how it works.
it is simply PRIDE. Even to the point of Martyrdom.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 10:47 am


110. Zenobia said:

oh yeah,

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

October 29th, 2007, 11:05 am


111. Yossi, Jerusalem said:

It can easily be proved the Syrian building, the pump house and everything about the Syrian behaviour doesn’t show it was a nuclear reactor. We just have to construct an alternative plausible explanation. Here is one:

The Syrians had at least one fatal accident at their main chemical warfare missile facility. They wanted an alternative site that is far from cultivated fields and houses and is near a good water source. They chose an abandoned military warehouse on the Euphrates. Inside the big warehouse they constructed a large concrete cylinder and a system that lifted the missile, put it inside the cylinder and after the work was done pulled it up and out.

The big concrete cylinder was supposed to contain the explosion in case of accident and a large pump was supposed to flood it quickly with river water to neutralize the nerve gas escaping.

The regional bully comes and blows the facility accusing Syria they cheated on the NPT. Syria can’t say “it was only a nerve gas missile facility” because this is also considered WMD and non-nice countries are not supposed to have means to deter regional bullies, only the bully can.

This alternative theory answers everything we know about this case, in fact it explains more facts and better than the reactor theory.

You can chose…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

November 14th, 2007, 7:20 am


Pages: « 1 2 [3] Show All

Post a comment