IAEA: Bombed Syrian Site Likely a Nuclear Reactor

Published: February 21st 2010

Photo of alleged reactor.
Pic: wikimedia commons
Satellite photo of destroyed reactor.
Pic: wikimedia commons

A report released on Thursday revealed that uranium particles collected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from a Syrian site bombed by Israel in 2007 indicate a high probability the area contained a nuclear reactor.


The report was sent to IAEA member nations and was more specific than previous IAEA statements on the agency’s study of the Syrian site, called al-Kibar or Dair Alzour.


Syria has always denied the existence of a nuclear reactor at the site. But, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in the report that the “presence of such particles points to the possibility of nuclear-related activities at the site and adds questions concerning the nature of the destroyed building.”


Syria has long claimed that uranium particles found at the site were the result of Israeli bombs hitting the area in 2007. In the report, Amano argued that “Syria has yet to provide a satisfactory explanation for the origin and presence of these particles.”


Nevertheless, he also urged Israel to do more to counter Syria’s accusation that the man-made nuclear particles came from Israeli weapons.


To date, Syria has refused to enter into serious talk with the IAEA, while also ignoring requests to allow the agency’s inspectors access to al-Kabir and three other suspicious areas, said the report.


The IAEA has only been able to examine samples from a small IAEA-monitored research facility outside of Damascus. The agency’s findings substantiated a statement by Syria from last year confirming that the country had been experimenting with uranium. However, the origin of the uranium particles found at al-Kibar is still uncertain.


After Israeli warplanes bombed the site in September 2007, independent experts concluded that commercial satellite footage from shortly after the bombing indicated a nuclear reactor had likely been the target.


Subsequent to the attack, Syria demolished site, constructing a larger building over the ruins.


In 2008, a top U.S. official told the Associated Press that the Syrian nuclear reactor was constructed with North Korean help and was mere weeks away from being operational. North Korea was allegedly aiding Syria in the production of plutonium, a metal found in nuclear weaponry.

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