Thursday, February 24, 2011

Additional nuclear sites in Syria

An article appeared in today's Jerusalem Post concerning an additional uranium processing plant discovered in Syria. This plant might be related to the nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel back in September 2007. The article cites the German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung as the source of the report. I went to their site, but I was unable to find the original article. However, after some additional searching I found a very detailed report on the discovery of three additional nuclear facilities in an article on the Institute for Science and International Security website. Curiously, that article, which also cites the German newspaper report, was dated December 1, 2010. The ISIS article provides additional photos along with some analysis that is very helpful.

I write all the above for two reasons. First, I try to verify all data before publishing, and this is a case where I couldn't independently verify the original source. (I don't doubt the Jerusalem Post article, but I still wanted to verify it.) Second, I was taken aback by the date posted on the ISIS website. However, this might be nothing more than a typo because it is difficult to imagine a story like this existing on the web since December without someone having picked it up much sooner.

I was able to go to Google Earth to verify the location of one suspected site. If you are interested in seeing it for yourself look carefully at the picture I posted above. I turned on Grid View to allow the picture to include latitude and longitude. You ought ought to be able to use those to navigate your way to the location. The vertical rows in the valley (center of the photo) appear to be military equipment of some sort. It would be interesting to know what they are.

I do have one question. What are these sites doing in Syria? Was Syria trying to develop its own nuclear weapon program? (Quite an undertaking for a relatively poor country.) Or could this be more indirect evidence of the partnership between Syria and Iran? Perhaps Iran has been "outsourcing" some of its nuclear program to hide it from the UN inspectors. If so, it hasn't worked!

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