Israel’s air attack was directed against what Israeli and American intelligence analysts had judged to be a partly constructed nuclear reactor. The Syrians vigorously denied the atomic claim.Skeptics also have a difficult time trying to explain away the need for a pump station and the hallmarks of a facility that mirrors one of a North Korean design. They also have no explanation as to why Syria sanitized the site within days of the airstrike such that any evidence of a clandestine program were hidden from view. They have no explanation as to why Syria didn't take the matter of the Israeli airstrike up at the United Nations - indeed Israel did enter Syrian airspace and conducted a military mission.
Before the attack, satellite imagery showed a tall, square building there measuring about 150 feet long per side.
After the attack, the Syrians wiped the area clean, with some analysis calling the speed of the cleanup a tacit admission of guilt. The barren site is on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, 90 miles north of the Iraqi border.
The image released Friday came from a private company, DigitalGlobe, in Longmont, Colo. It shows a tall, square building under construction that appears to closely resemble the original structure, with the exception that the roof is vaulted instead of flat. The photo was taken from space on Wednesday.
Given the international uproar that unfolded after the bombing, “we can assume it’s not a reactor,” said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that has analyzed the Syrian site.
If international inspectors eventually get to the site, he added, they will have a more difficult time looking for nuclear evidence. “The new building,” he noted, “covers whatever remained of the destroyed one.”
Skeptics have criticized the nuclear accusation, saying the public evidence that has so far come to light was ambiguous at best. They noted, for instance, that at the time of the attack the site had no obvious barbed wire or air defenses that would normally ring a sensitive military facility.
The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna recently became aware of the new construction, a European diplomat said Friday.
That the Syrians remain silent over what happened on September 6 is the most curious part of the entire episode and suggests that whatever the Israelis hit, Syria didn't want to bring any attention to what they were doing at the site.
Now, of course, satellites are picking up new construction at the site, which begs the question of what they're doing.
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