UPDATE: The CIA video briefing along with additional photographs of Syria’s Al Kibar nuclear facility have been released and can be viewed by clicking here.
More and more information briefed to Congress in regards to the Syrian-North Korean nuclear connection is making its way into the media to include many of the photographs to include one of the nuclear reactor itself:
Here is an Al Jazeera report on the release of the photographs to Congress:
It is nice to see what the nuclear facility looks like from ground level instead of from all the satellite imagery:
It is pretty clear from this picture that this facility is much more then just the box like shape that it appeared to be in the satellite imagery. The new information also has answered one of the questions I have been thinking about, which is whether the reactor was about to be operational or not:
A senior U.S. official said the reactor was weeks or months away from being functional when it was bombed by Israel in September.
“This thing was good to go, so we had to assume they were ready to throw the switch,” said a senior U.S. intelligence officer who, along with another senior intelligence officer and a senior White House official, briefed reporters about the site Thursday afternoon. [CNN]
The reactor had not received any uranium yet but that seems irrelevant because it is pretty clear what the Syrians’ intent for building the reactor was though David Albright continues to be the Syrians’ nuclear apologist:
“The United States and Israel have not identified any Syrian plutonium separation facilities or nuclear weaponization facilities,” he said. “The lack of any such facilities gives little confidence that the reactor is part of an active nuclear weapons program. The apparent lack of fuel, either imported or indigenously produced, also is curious and lowers confidence that Syria has a nuclear weapons program.” [Washington Post]
The fact that the facilities had not been made yet does not mean that their intent was not to make nuclear weapons. The design of this reactor is old gas cooled graphite moderated design that no one today would use to generate electricity with and it is nearly identical to the North Korean Yongbyon facility that was used to make their nuclear bombs. How many times does David Albright have to be proven wrong before the media quits calling him an expert at anything?
There is definitely one guy I feel sorry for in all of this and that is this North Korean nuclear scientist that was captured on film in Syria:
I wonder how long it will be before this guy mysteriously disappears? You do have the admire the Israeli intelligence network that came up with all these images because it is truly amazing the intelligence they were able to get from a closed society like Syria compared to the US CIA’s efforts in gathering intelligence from pre-war Iraq.
Anyway, for their part the Syrians are denying everything:
Imad Moustapha said on CNN that he had been called into the US State Department today, where officials “told me a ridiculous story about an alleged Syria nuclear project”.
He said they showed him “ridiculous satellite-taken photographs of a building in the Syrian desert, saying this is a nuclear reactor”.
“I had to remind them that it is on one hand preposterous. And on the other hand there is something silly about this. Not a single security guard. No barbed wire,” the ambassador said.
He added: “It’s just photographs of vacant buildings”. [AFP]
This doesn’t look like a vacant building to me:
You can watch the Syrian ambassador spin and make denials about its nuclear facility in the CNN video below as well:
I think the only person that believes this guy’s denials is probably David Albright.
Make sure to go over to One Free Korea to get his always informative take on the latest development surrounding this issue. He is wondering if the Agreed Framework 2.0 will collapse along with possibly Christopher Hill resigning. Richardson over at DPRK Studies is wondering who is at the wheel of coordinating American policy with North Korea.