AL KIBAR UPDATE….The latest — report? speculation? gossip? let’s go with gossip, shall we? — the latest gossip about that Syrian nuclear facility that the Israelis bombed last year is that it was actually a joint Syrian-Iranian operation:

[An] Israeli adviser told the Guardian: “The Iranians were involved in the Syrian programme. The idea was that the Syrians produce plutonium and the Iranians get their share. Syria had no reprocessing facility for the spent fuel. It’s not deduction alone that brings almost everyone to think that the link exists.”

On Monday the German magazine Der Spiegel quoted “intelligence reports” as making similar claims. A Syrian government spokesman dismissed them as “nonsense”. But Der Spiegel said that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was considering withdrawing support for the Iranian nuclear programme.

Is this true? Or just part of the ongoing campaign from Israel to soften up world opinion for an airstrike against Iran’s nuclear facilities? Who knows. But David Ignatius claims that the peace talks between Israel and Syria are quite serious, and that the destruction of the Al Kibar facility actually helped things along:

(5) What about Syria’s secret nuclear reactor, which was destroyed by the Israelis on Sept. 6, 2007?

Oddly enough, that attack on what CIA analysts called the “Enigma Building” may have helped the peace talks. The Israelis felt that their decisive action helped restore the credibility of their deterrence policy. The Syrians appreciated that Israeli and American silence allowed them time to cover their tracks. Finally, the fact that Assad kept the nuclear effort a secret, and that he managed the post-attack pressures, showed Israelis that he was truly master of his own house, and thus a plausible negotiating partner.

This stuff is above my pay grade. I really can’t judge how much truth there is to it. But I thought I’d pass it along for those who are interested in the latest Middle East gossip.