More uncertainty about Syrian “Nuke” plant

T_Desco has compiled these quotes from various news sites 

William M. Arkin: in What’s In Those Syria Satellite Shots? Washington Post

“The military and intelligence officials and watchers I’ve talked to say the evidence they’ve seen is anything but definitive – though they’re getting most of what they know from the media, given how closely guarded U.S.-Israeli discussions have been.”

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis: in Syria and Nuclear Weapons, Again, ArmsControlWonk

“Suddenly, I understand why the intelligence from Israel, as Kessler reported, was “restricted to a few senior officials under the instructions of national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, leaving many in the intelligence community unaware of it or uncertain of its significance.”

Because we’d already looked at the building and Hadley knew what the IC would say.”

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, D.C. in Fox News

“The photo — taken Sept. 13, 2003 by an American commercial satellite — could be proof that U.S. officials may have known about the facility long before the Israeli mission. …

“I’m sure they knew something,” said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, D.C. “They didn’t know it’s a reactor, that’s pretty clear (sic). I’m sure they, in scanning Syria, came across it.” …

“The Israelis stumbled upon this, were surprised and acted quickly (sic),” Albright said. “And so we don’t know what evidence they collected or (if) they just panicked and decided to act without knowing and worried about the worse case.” …

We’d like to know if Syria is going to try to build another nuclear facility or nuclear reactor someplace else,” Albright said. “Perhaps be more careful this time (sic).”

Comments (15)

norman said:

This is from sasa,
It is interesting to see what is happening in Syria from sombody who lives there.

I started this blog to paint a picture of life from the streets. But I get too easily distracted by big politics and international arguments. So right now, I’m going to change that. Things here are changing. And changing fast. Changing too fast for some people. It’s affecting some people too much, others not enough. But the outlook is positive. If you thought the shutters were being pulled down in preparation for war – by the officials, or by the people – think again. Private banks are everywhere. French, Saudi, Lebanese, Syrian. And there are cash machines on every street corner. Ok, it’s no Lebanon. But people do have access to their money. Society is not relying on cash as much as it used too. But every second coin or note I’m given is a shiny new one. Talking of new, Pepsi and Coke are here. Pepsi cans even proclaim ‘Now in Syria’. The Americanisation doesn’t stop there. KFC in Shaalan is doing well. The open air Z-Bar on top of the Omayaed Palace Hotel decorated with painfully trendy black furniture with views towards Jebl Qasioun wouldn’t feel out of place in Beirut or London. But that’s all superficial and affects so few people. The rich are getting richer. Travel to Saida Zeinab and meet some of the newly arrived Iraqi refugees and it will bring tears to your eyes. But more on that in a few days. And talking of visitors to Syria, the tourist industry has exploded. I have never seen so many foreigners in Damascus. Germans are everywhere. Every hotel is full. And the taxi drivers are rubbing their hands with glee. New restaurants and hotels have opened up across the Old City. A couple of years ago there were just two or three. There are real attempts to clean things up. Baramke bus station has closed. And about time too. It has always been the place I hate in Damascus. Dirty, dusty, busy, polluted and filled with the worst type of people. It has been replaced by a brand new one outside of Mezzeh. Jisr bus station has also been closed. Outside the city people seem more happy than ever before. Syrians seem to realise they have something no-one else in the region has – peace. And there seems to be an awareness the worst is over. So while officials put up posters ever so subtly reminding us of the threat from outside (‘Syria doesn’t bow to anyone except God’) – the people are a lost more content. Strangers are talking politics like never before. People who know nothing about politics are willing to thrust their opinion on people they don’t know. In the street, in cafes, in taxis. The streets are buzzing with politics. And so will this blog. (Technical note – forgive me for any errors – I’m sending this from my phone so it might come out a bit strange.)

posted by sasa at 1:14 PM on Oct 29, 2007

October 30th, 2007, 12:56 am


majedkhaldoun said:

why discuss
not all Druze are happy with Junblatt, in fact probably only 30% support Walid.recently he allied himself with JaaJaa, who is well known as criminal,traitor, and agent of Israel.

October 30th, 2007, 2:32 am


Nour said:


Could you provide a link to Sasa’s blog?

October 30th, 2007, 2:48 am


why-discuss said:


If this is true , Jumblatt represents then less then 2% of the population of Lebanon and he talks to Dick Cheney and Condie! he might as well shut up.

October 30th, 2007, 3:39 am


Nour said:

Thanks Norman.

October 30th, 2007, 4:13 am


b said:

Albright is obviously believeing that Syria is having something nuclear. He also believed that Saddam had a nuke program.

The only “evidence” he has is the size of one building. But as he says himself in the ISIS paper, the building doesn’t have the hight of the NoKo reactor – which is important.

In the ISIS paper Albright, the “nuclear expert”, claims that the NoKo reactors are build after a Russian design. This is flat out wrong. The NoKo reactors are the Magnox type, a British design.

Such reactors are fed from the top. The buildings for such thereby do need a certain height. The Syrian building Albright points to doesn’t have a sufficient height. Also note that there is no security around that “reactor” building. No air-defense, no fence.

Albright has NOTHING that would in any way show a Syrian nuclear program. He has been wrong on Iraq, he is wrong on Syria.

Who pays him?

October 30th, 2007, 9:56 am


idaf said:

Engaging Syria: We’d Be Crazy Not To – Foreign Policy In Focus
Shana Marshall | October 29, 2007

Some world leaders are not exactly negotiating material. The recently deceased leader of Turkmenistan renamed the months and days of the week after himself and his family and tried to build a palace constructed entirely of ice. No one really tried to negotiate with him–he placed a ban on lip-syncing.

Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad is negotiating material. In fact, he has shown moderation and restraint in recent months beyond what could be expected from many of his regional counterparts. First–the recent Israeli air strike inside Syrian territory is almost a carte blanche for violent retaliation–yet there has been none. Instead–Syria has lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations–not exactly the behavior we would expect from a leadership knee-deep in a nuclear program. Second, Syria has welcomed nearly one million Iraqi refugees with access to free education and medical care. The United States refuses even to admit Iraqis who have collaborated with coalition forces. Third, despite U.S. economic sanctions, an International Monetary Fund report released in August shows Syria continues to make real strides in reforming its economy. The United States has much to gain from negotiating with the young President, such as cooperation on Iraq, peace settlement between Syria and Israel, at least some leverage over Hizbullah and Hamas, yet it continues its almost unconditional policy of isolation.

Efforts by the U.S. Congress to ban flights through Syria’s Damascus Airport is only the most recent manifestation of this political myopia. Congressional reports suggest that Damascus Airport is a “conduit for al-Qaeda.” It takes only a moment to draw the comparison with our own failures in transportation security. If the richest, most powerful nation in the world cannot secure its aircraft how can a middle-income country with an aging transportation infrastructure be expected to do so? Senator Lieberman’s references to Syria’s “sprawling domestic intelligence and security services” that should be equipped to deal with such security breaches prompts a rejoinder about the controversy over warrantless-wiretapping in the United States. A ban on flights would be a major blow to Syria’s tourism industry–an industry the new Syrian President has targeted for privatization and economic liberalization. If Damascus Airport is indeed a rest stop on the al-Qaeda superhighway, the answer should not be to ban flights but to coordinate with the Syrian regime to better monitor passengers and cargo. After all, the Syrian regime is a secular one that has its own bone to pick with radical Sunni groups.

Despite the necessity of improving relations with Damascus some hardliners in the Bush administration continue to insist on a policy that neither pushes the Syrian regime toward political reform nor benefits the United States strategically. Continued attempts to label Syria a “rogue state” while referring to Saudi Arabia as a “moderate Arab ally” and increasing military aid to the Egyptian state as the human rights situation there deteriorates, is impossible to square with stated U.S. objectives. Moreover it reinforces the already pervasive sense in the Arab world that U.S. policy in the region has nothing to do with democracy–and everything to do with propping up U.S.-allied autocrats.

The vast majority of accounts describe the Syrian President as a reformer who often loses out in policy contests to the hardline conservative elements in the Syrian Ba’ath party establishment. The Administration’s hostile policy toward Syria only emboldens these repressive forces, helping them make their case that the United States is out for “regime change” and that engagement is a losing policy. Without a doubt the United States will not find an ally in Bashar Al Assad like it has found in the Saudi Royal family. But why would it want to? Formal, friendly ties are worth little when they tarnish the reputations of both parties. The Saudis are condemned as “apostates” for collaborating with the United States while the United States is viewed as hypocritical for dealing with an undemocratic regime.

In hindsight many U.S. foreign policy decisions appear clearly disastrous; it is rare that we can see a policy as erroneous in real-time. The United States should seize the opportunity afforded by the young President’s restraint in responding to Israel by genuinely engaging with the Syrian regime. Recognizing this restraint as responsible, sensible policy also sends a message that negotiation, not aggression, is the law of the land. This may be a difficult message to relay to some leaders, especially President Bush who recently warned about a possible “World War III ” with Iran. Some suggest we’d be crazy to negotiate with people Ahmadinejad and Assad. But with the specter of WWW III on the horizon, we’d be crazy not to.

Shana Marshall is a PhD. student at the University of Maryland and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

October 30th, 2007, 2:23 pm


EHSANI2 said:

The above article states the following:

“The vast majority of accounts describe the Syrian President as a reformer who often loses out in policy contests to the hardline conservative elements in the Syrian Ba’ath party establishment”

The vast majority of accounts..? Who are they, and what is their credibility or inside knowledge?

For seven years, we have been told that there exists a “hardline conservative elements in the establishment”. Thus far, I am yet to hear names. Who are these elements that can stand up to the wishes of the President? Bashar losing out to any elements inside the establishment is sheer nonsense.

October 30th, 2007, 5:46 pm


Alex said:


It is not only conservative elements … there are many established groups that continue to resist change … Syrians are not used to dramatic changes, plus many would lose current privileges if that change comes … think of the many business people who currently can import things without paying as much duty as they are supposed to pay … if you reform enough to take away their ability to bribe some customs official, then they will be very unhappy for losing their current price advantage or their current profit margin.

Then you have the large numbers of government officials and employees who are not currently generating any real productivity … if you reform enough until they all lose their jobs (as they should) … you end up with the Iraq situation … when the Americans removed all the Baathists … and made them all enemies of that “reform”

Then you have the Army and Moukhabarat … half a million right there …

It is not only Khaddam and Asef Shawkat who used to resist change, as many people used to think .. it is the whole system… large parts of it.

October 30th, 2007, 8:42 pm


EHSANI2 said:

Who created that system?

You blame your inability/unwillingness to change the system that you created in the first place?

The leadership went after the merchant class in the 80’s with the most draconian measures ever. It found no resistance then, did they?

October 30th, 2007, 9:05 pm


Observer said:

I do not think for one minute that there is a genuine desire for reform as an advancement of the country or the region in any of the current leadership in the ME. They are being forced to reform by demographics, open information, interconnected financial markets, changing economic basis, and in large measure an end to any state sponsored or directed economy as a viable alternative. If they could have 3 million soldiers and 3 million state functionaries while keeping total control over the situation, then they would not hesittate to do it. The problem is that they cannot do so. There is no such thing as hard core resistance groups, they all want to be like the communist party in China; i.e. the monopoly over a feudal system of patronage and cronyism. The mentality is so corrupt that the Austrian based charity SOS villages is having difficulty operating, even the “volunteers” were expecting to milk the organization for a car or a trip or something. This is group that takes care of orphans and counts on local volunteers as they build the facilities. I do not advocate any violence but the system is to be uprooted slowly and surely for any progress to occur.

October 30th, 2007, 9:31 pm


trustquest said:

So, it looks to me like annual plan not a five of ten years plan. If the system can survive one more year each year, everything is OK. For the past 50 years, each household have a fridge, but not from the store, it is smuggled one ( where the cooperation of smugglers, customs and army were workingwell), and those smugglers would not allow for a merchant to open a store and make money, they loose their business. That is why Bashar finding big obstruction from all around him.

October 30th, 2007, 11:34 pm


why-discuss said:

The analysis of Scarlett Haddad show a new very interesting element of the equation: Turkey and the Kurds issue.
Turkey is dissapointed by the inertia of the US to cleanup the PKK bases in Iraq. Turkey’s major foreign problem now is the Kurdish question. Turkey shares the same problem with Iran and Syria and therefore there is a rapprochement with this “axis of evil’ countries to deal with this issue. The US caught between its alliance with the Kurds and Turkey is paralyzed and dreads a war in the North of Iraq without been able to do anything aboutit. Therefore they need Syria and Iran to convince Turkey not to attack North Iraq by finding another solution. I guess Iran with the help of Syria is now playing that card against the US..: We join Turkey to find a peaceful solution to this issue and you get off our back, or we let loose… and you’ll get a war in North Iraq that would be more problems for the US occupation.

I believe the US is trapped just everywhere in the area… This perceived weakness is making Palestinians, Iranians, Turkish more bolder in their declarations. And poor Condie is joining desperate housewives.

…Le second développement jugé très important pour l’évolution de la situation régionale est ce que les mêmes sources appellent
le revirement de la Turquie. Celle-ci, affirment les proches du président de la Chambre, aurait modifié ses alliances en basculant
du camp américain vers la Syrie et l’Iran. La dernière visite du président syrien Bachar el-Assad à Ankara aurait permis de
concrétiser cette volte-face politique axée sur la question du Kurdistan. Depuis le début, les Turcs ont clairement refusé la
création d’un État kurde dans le nord de l’Irak et ils ne veulent même pas entendre parler du renforcement éventuel du « canton
kurde » au cas où une formule fédérale serait finalement adoptée dans ce pays. Après avoir envoyé en vain des signaux dans ce
sens, les Turcs ont fini par passer à l’action et ils ont trouvé des alliés dans la Syrie et l’Iran.
Les sources proches du président de la Chambre estiment que cette nouvelle donne régionale et internationale affaiblit la
position américaine et pourrait rendre l’Administration Bush plus favorable à l’élection d’un président d’entente au Liban. Les
mêmes sources considèrent que, jusqu’à tout récemment, la politique américaine dans la région était traditionnellement basée
sur trois forces : Israël, la Turquie et l’Iran. Or, l’État hébreu est aujourd’hui affaibli et son Premier ministre n’est pas en mesure
d’offrir les concessions nécessaires pour que la conférence d’Annapolis puisse enregistrer un succès important dans le dossier
israélo-palestinien. L’Iran est dans le collimateur de la politique américaine et la Turquie est en train de nouer des alliances avec
« l’axe du mal ».

October 31st, 2007, 4:54 am


ausamaa said:

The comments today seems like we are going back to Syria Comment. Good!

October 31st, 2007, 7:09 am


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