Friday, November 4, 2011
Syria's Nuclear Role
What is missing in this report is any mention of the possible transfer of Iraqi assets to
Syria just before came under attack when it was
no longer avoidable. We also forget that
the Iraqi air force fled to Iraq
about this time. Quite obviously any
WMDs were also necessarily removed to foreign soil however unpleasant the
Whatever the rational, it also is likely the funding came from
for all of this. Iran
never had the coin. Syria
The attempted breath of the Islamic weapons program is actually shocking and however disrupted it may be we still have
Pakistan and with
intact programs. Both polities are caricatures
of Islamic Jihadism and give no one any comfort least of all their fellow
We are presented with the specter of Hitler and
with nukes trying to forestall internal collapse in the face of international
confrontation. The situation is
unfortunately quite comparable. We
thought then we had escaped much worse. Togo
However, this is a side show to the ongoing Islamic confrontation still brewing in the
East with the added twist of multiple revolutions.
UN investigators probe signs
aided by A.Q. Khan nuclear
smuggling network Syria
By Desmond Butler,George Jahn, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 4 hours ago
WASHINGTON - U.N. investigators have identified a previously unknown complex in Syria that bolsters suspicions that the Syrian government worked with A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, to acquire technology that could make nuclear arms.
The buildings in northwest
closely match the design of a uranium enrichment plant provided to when Moammar
Gadhafi was trying to build nuclear weapons under Khan's
guidance, officials told The Associated Press. Libya
The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency also has obtained correspondence between Khan and a Syrian government official, Muhidin Issa, who proposed scientific co-operation and a visit to Khan's laboratories following
successful nuclear test in 1998. Pakistan
The complex, in the city of
now appears to be a cotton-spinning plant, and investigators have found no sign
that it was ever used for nuclear production. But given that Israeli warplanes
destroyed a suspected plutonium production reactor in Al-Hasakah Syria in 2007, the unlikely coincidence in
may have been pursuing two routes to an atomic bomb: uranium as well as
Details of the Syria-Khan connection were provided to the AP by a senior diplomat with knowledge of IAEA investigations and a former U.N. investigator. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The Syrian government did not respond to a request for comment. It has repeatedly denied pursuing nuclear weapons but also has stymied an investigation into the site bombed by
. It has not responded to an
IAEA request to visit the Al-Hasakah complex, the officials said. Israel
IAEA officials contacted Tuesday also declined to comment.
The IAEA's examination of
's programs has slowed as
world powers focus on a popular uprising in the country and the government's
violent crackdown. Syria
But Mark Hibbs, an analyst at the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has spoken to IAEA officials about the Al-Hasakah complex, said it is important to learn more details about the buildings.
"What is at stake here is the nuclear history of that facility," Hibbs said. "People want to know what did they intend to do there, and
has provided no information." Syria
"A nuclear weapon would give
at least a kind of parity with
and some status within the region," said Anthony Cordesman, a national
security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Israel
For years, there has been speculation about ties between the Syrian government and Khan.
A hero to many in
for developing the country's nuclear bomb, Khan is considered the world's most
prolific nuclear merchant. He supplied Pakistan Iran
with the basics of what is now an established uranium enrichment program that
has churned out enough material to make several nuclear weapons, although denies it
intends to produce weapons. Iran
also bought equipment and a warhead design from Khan for a secret nuclear
program that it renounced in 2003. Libya
In 2004, Khan confessed on TV to selling nuclear technology to
Iran, North Korea
and Libya, but he has never
spoken of .
Khan later said Pakistani authorities forced him to make the confession. Syria
The former investigator said
acknowledged to the IAEA that Khan made at least one trip to Syria to deliver scientific lectures, as The Times reported
in 2004. Los Angeles
The former official said he has seen letters from Issa, then a deputy minister of education, written on official letterhead shortly after
Pakistan's 1998 nuclear test congratulating for
Khan's achievement. In subsequent correspondence, Issa suggested co-operation
with Khan and requested a visit by Syrian officials to Khan's laboratory, the
former official said. Pakistan
Issa, who later served as the dean of the faculty of sciences at Arab International University, could not be reached for comment.
In a 2007 interview with an Austrian newspaper, Syrian President Bashar Assad acknowledged having received a letter that appeared to have been from Khan, but said his government had not responded and did not meet Khan.
IAEA investigators homed in on the Al-Hasakah facility after an intensive analysis of satellite imagery in the Middle East, sparked by a belief that Khan had an additional government customer, which had not yet come to light. They identified the site, the largest industrial complex in Al-Hasakah, after a 2006 report in a Kuwaiti newspaper claimed
had a secret nuclear program
in the city. Syria
Satellite imagery of the Al-Hasakah complex revealed striking similarities to plans for a uranium enrichment facility that were seized during a Swiss investigation related to Khan. The Swiss were looking into the Tinner family — Urs Tinner, his brother Marco and their father, Friedrich — who are suspected of playing a crucial role in Khan's smuggling network.
Another set of the same plans was turned over to the IAEA after
abandoned its nuclear program. Libya told the IAEA it had ordered 10,000 gas
centrifuges from Khan, most of which it intended for a facility that was to be
built according to the plans. Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium in the
weapons-making process. Libya
The investigator said the layout of the Al-Hasakah facility matches the plans used in
almost exactly, with a large building surrounded by three smaller workshops in
the same configurations. Investigators were struck that even the parking lots
had similarities, with a covered area to shield cars from the sun. Libya
But the investigator said he had seen no evidence that centrifuges were ever installed there. The Hasakah Spinning Co. has a website that shows photos of manufacturing equipment inside the facility and brags about its prices.
The IAEA asked to visit the site more than two years ago. But it has not pressed the issue, focusing its efforts on the bombed site.
Nor has the agency ever cited the Al-Hasakah facility in its reports. Three other sites have been mentioned, but they are believed to have been related to the bombed reactor, not the Al-Hasakah plant.
IAEA inspectors were allowed to visit the bombed reactor site once, but have not been allowed back for nearly three years. They issued a strongly worded assessment in May that said the targeted site was in fact a nearly built nuclear reactor. The agency's board subsequently referred the issue to the U.N. Security Council, effectively dismissing Syrian denials as untrue.
Syrian officials again refused new inspections after talks with the IAEA in Damascus last week, diplomats told the AP. The officials said they would provide new evidence that the bombed site was non-nuclear. Agency officials remain skeptical because
did not describe the new
information or say when it would be provided. Syria