Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Syria, the IAEA, an Inspection, and a Missing Reactor

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is going to send a inspection team to Syria. They're going to look at a site that Israel bombed recently.

Syria says there's no reactor there, and they're right.

On September 6, 2007, Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on what Syria has said was
  • Empty sand
  • An agricultural facility
  • An unused military facility of some sort
Before the Israeli jets blew the place up, it looked a lot like a reactor that's in North Korea. And, by curious coincidence, there were quite a few North Koreans around there.

But, Syria says that there's no reactor there. And, they're right. There won't be any evidence of one lying around either, unless they were very, very clumsy.

As the International Herald Tribune recalled today, Syria "wiped the Euphrates site clean of rubble late last year and erected a new building where the destroyed one had been — a step nuclear experts said would complicate the job of hunting for atomic clues. Some analysts said the rapid cleanup and new construction had been tacit admissions of guilt."
("UN nuclear inspectors to visit Syria" International Herald Tribune (June 3, 2008))

There certainly isn't a nuclear reactor there now, and unless the Syrian clean-up crew was clumsy, I doubt that the handful of inspectors the IAEA sends is going to find any evidence to speak of.

As for other places that the IAEA ought to be interested in, forget it. "Diplomats: 3 suspect Syrian nuke sites off limits" (Associated Press (June 3, 2008)).

The International Herald Tribune article offers quotes from some of the people involved.
  • "Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the atomic agency, announced the impending visit at a meeting of the agency's board in Vienna. 'I look forward to Syria's full cooperation,' he said."
  • "The press secretary at the Syrian Embassy in Washington declined to comment specifically on the inspection visit, and other Syrian officials also did not comment. But Ahmed Salkini, the press secretary, said in a statement that Syria had always had a good working relationship with the atomic agency 'and we intend to keep it that way.'"
    "He added: 'This fabricated story by the U.S. administration will deconstruct from within and without. We are working on different fronts, and with different parties, to ensure that this fabrication is exposed to the world, and this administration embarrassed, once again.' " [emphasis mine]
  • David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington: " 'If the Syrians think that a quick visit and some interviews' will clear up the nuclear suspicions, he said, 'they're sadly mistaken.' "
I sincerely hope that the inspection will be more than "a quick visit and some interviews." I could be mistaken, but I've gotten the impression that Syria and a few other countries have a very "good working relationship with the atomic agency" - and that may explain why America didn't share intelligence about the Syrian reactor (or agricultural facility, or empty desert) with the IAEA.

More at Posts from "Another War-on-Terror Blog," on the Israeli raid and its aftermath:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.