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Satellites Spot Razed Syrian 'Nuclear' Facility

October 28, 2007 02:35 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Neither Washington nor Israel has explained the recent Israeli air force strike on Syrian territory; new photos appear to back the case that the raid destroyed a nascent nuclear reactor.

30-Second Summary

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According to The New York Times, a number of federal and private analysts say that newly published satellite images of Syria depict a base hit in the Israeli air strike of Sept. 6.

The images are helping to form a consensus that the Israeli planes attacked a nuclear facility being built with North Korean aid.

David Albright, president of independent policy research group the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Times that the construction pictured in the satellite images was “consistent with being a North Korean reactor design.”

Photos taken after the raid appear to show that Syrian workers buried what was left of the site. Lewis stated, “It looks like Syria is trying to hide something.”

The United States and Israel have both declined to explain the motive for the incursion. Increasingly, commentators favor the conclusion that the Israeli and U.S. reticence on this issue has been maintained so that nonproliferation talks can continue with North Korea.

However, nuclear strategy and nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis sounded a cautionary note. Lewis judged that the photos alone are inconclusive. Similar evidence has misled people in China and North Korea in the past.

In addition, Lewis argues that the Washington leaks that have added weight to the theory of a North Korean nuclear connection come from officials who are dissatisfied with U.S. policy vis-à-vis North Korea.

The other camp in the debate “might have important information to add, were they willing to leak it,” writes Lewis.

Lewis concludes that the officials pushing for the continuation of talks with Pyongyang feel no need to release anything to the press, because they are satisfied with the State Department's line on North Korea.

Headline Links: The satellite photos and the dispute over North Korea

Reactions: Syrian government and populace

Background: Syria’s nonproliferation record and the Israeli raid

Opinion & Analysis: Why the photos should be approached with skepticism

Reference Material: Conflict between Syria and Israel and nonproliferation

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