Syrians Dismantling "Empty Building" at Site of Israeli Raid

The "empty military building," which is what Syrian President Bashar Assad referred to as the target of an Israeii raid last month, is being dismantled - probably to hide its true nature say experts:

The dismantling of the damaged site, which appears to be still underway, could make it difficult for weapons inspectors to determine the precise nature of the facility and how Syria planned to use it. Syria, which possesses a small reactor used for scientific research, has denied seeking to expand its nuclear program.

But U.S. officials knowledgeable about the Israeli raid have described the target as a nuclear facility being constructed with North Korean assistance. The bombed facility is different from the one Syria displayed to journalists last week to back its allegations that Israel had bombed an essentially an empty building, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity because details of the Israeli attack are classified.

While U.S. officials express increasing confidence that the Syrian facility was nuclear-related, divisions persist within the government and among weapons experts over the significance of the threat.

If the facility was a nuclear reactor, U.S. weapons experts said it would almost certainly have taken Syria several years to complete the structure, and much longer to produce significant quantities of plutonium for potential use in nuclear weapons. Nuclear reactors also are used to generate electricity.
Assad is banking on his Russian friends at the United Nations to run interference for him long enough so that he can remove all traces of whatever illegal activities were going on at the site. The International Atomic Energy Agency would love to get a peek at what the Israelis bombed but that's not likely.

So Assad, although embarrassed by the ease with which the Israelis penetrated his defenses, will continue to insist that there's nothing to see at the site. Meanwhile, policy makers must figure out if North Korea is trying to assist Syria in getting the bomb - a task made extremely difficult by the lack of evidence to be gathered now that the Syrians are cleaning up the site.

The "empty military building," which is what Syrian President Bashar Assad referred to as the target of an Israeii raid last month, is being dismantled - probably to hide its true nature say experts:

The dismantling of the damaged site, which appears to be still underway, could make it difficult for weapons inspectors to determine the precise nature of the facility and how Syria planned to use it. Syria, which possesses a small reactor used for scientific research, has denied seeking to expand its nuclear program.

But U.S. officials knowledgeable about the Israeli raid have described the target as a nuclear facility being constructed with North Korean assistance. The bombed facility is different from the one Syria displayed to journalists last week to back its allegations that Israel had bombed an essentially an empty building, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity because details of the Israeli attack are classified.

While U.S. officials express increasing confidence that the Syrian facility was nuclear-related, divisions persist within the government and among weapons experts over the significance of the threat.

If the facility was a nuclear reactor, U.S. weapons experts said it would almost certainly have taken Syria several years to complete the structure, and much longer to produce significant quantities of plutonium for potential use in nuclear weapons. Nuclear reactors also are used to generate electricity.
Assad is banking on his Russian friends at the United Nations to run interference for him long enough so that he can remove all traces of whatever illegal activities were going on at the site. The International Atomic Energy Agency would love to get a peek at what the Israelis bombed but that's not likely.

So Assad, although embarrassed by the ease with which the Israelis penetrated his defenses, will continue to insist that there's nothing to see at the site. Meanwhile, policy makers must figure out if North Korea is trying to assist Syria in getting the bomb - a task made extremely difficult by the lack of evidence to be gathered now that the Syrians are cleaning up the site.