A delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Syria on Sunday, hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Syrian remote building which was destroyed by the Israelis last September on suspicion it was a plutonium-producing reactor.
Led by IAEA chief inspector Olli Heinonen, the inspectors will stay until Tuesday.
Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has recently told an Indian newspaper that the allegations were "fabricated 100 percent."
He said his country would welcome the visit but insisted the mission would be limited to the Al-Kibar site in the Syrian eastern desert, 90 miles north of the Iraqi border.
Syria's ambassador to the U.N. Ibraheem Jaafari denied late last month that the site was a nuclear installation, saying it only contained a disused military building.
The Israeli airstrike inside Syria on Sept. 6, 2007, reignited international debate over whether the Syrians are trying to overcome past obstacles by starting their own small nuclear program, or by trying to buy nuclear components from an outside supplier. Washington believes it is North Korea.
Well, the last person I would ever believe would be al-Assad, right after Bush. Isn't it sad when the credibility of the leader of the free world is about that as the idiot son of a Syrian dictator?
Arms Control Wonk has more info--including an interesting comparison of the site to some old ruined Byzantine fortresses and to the North Korean site at Yongbyong...
The facility at Al-Kibar:
A composite of ruined Byzantine fortresses, compiled by Arms Control Wonk:
Despite early press reports that the fuel channels atop the Al Kibar reactor core were identical to Yongbyon, I and others — including Geoff Forden, Cheryl Rofer and Richard Wendland — see some pretty significant differences that suggest Al Kibar might have been quite a bit smaller than its North Korean cousin.
To be clear, I don’t doubt that Al Kibar was a reactor and, although I think the evidence of North Korean involvement is less impressive than early press reports suggested, that’s my working hypothesis too.
But I don’t understand the claim that Al Kibar is a copy of Yongbyon in the strict sense — in particular, I don’t understand how the IC concluded that Al Kibar is the same size as Yongbyon.
Maybe--just maybe--we'll get some answers...