Syria Update

SYRIA UPDATE….ABC News has dug up a “senior U.S. official” who says there’s no question that the Syrian target hit by the Israelis last month was a nuclear facility designed by North Korea:

A senior U.S. official told ABC News the Israelis first discovered a suspected Syrian nuclear facility early in the summer, and the Mossad — Israel’s intelligence agency — managed to either co-opt one of the facility’s workers or to insert a spy posing as an employee. As a result, the Israelis obtained many detailed pictures of the facility from the ground.

….The official described the pictures as showing a big cylindrical structure, with very thick walls all well-reinforced. The photos show rebar hanging out of the cement used to reinforce the structure, which was still under construction.

There was also a secondary structure and a pump station, with trucks around it. “It was unmistakable what it was going to be. No doubt in my mind,” the official told ABC News….The official said the facility was a North Korean design in its construction, the technology present and the ability to put it all together.

Is this the same “official” who told the New York Times that the Israeli target was a nuclear facility? Or a different official? No telling. Nor does the ABC report suggest how long the facility had been under construction or how far away from completion it was. It does say, however, that (a) there was no actual nuclear material at the site and (b) the United States decided against striking the facility itself.

This whole story still doesn’t quite add up, but someone is sure going to a lot of trouble to leak about it. Either this really was a nuclear site or else there’s a genuinely remarkable disinformation campaign being conducted. My guess is that it’s real.

UPDTE: Cernig continues to think the whole thing is just garden variety bullshit from Cheney’s office. Posts here and here. It’s hard to argue with that, but it still doesn’t explain (a) why Israel would have bombed a conventional weapons site or (b) why Syria is being so cagey about the whole thing. If it’s just a building full of Scuds, why not scream blue murder and invite every journalist in a thousand mile radius to come take a look?

There are possible answers to both those questions, but they don’t strike me as all that persuasive. In any case, read everything and make up your own mind. Speaking for myself, I continue to be confused.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation