Sunset News: Intelligence officials went to Capitol Hill to brief Congress

"We know we belong to the land and the land we belong to is grand"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Intelligence officials went to Capitol Hill to brief Congress

CIA Director Michael Hayden and other intelligence officials went to Capitol Hill to brief Congress on the evidence related to the bombed Syrian facility, scheduling appearances before the House and Senate armed services, intelligence and foreign affairs committees.

The Syrian reactor was similar in design to a North Korean reactor that has in the past produced small amounts of plutonium, the official said. It was not yet complete but was far enough along to demonstrate a resemblance to the North Korean reactor at Yonbyon.

The official said no uranium — the fuel for a reactor — was evident on site. Syria has maintained in the past that the site was an unused military facility.

Syria did not declare the apparent reactor to the International Atomic Energy Agency nor was it under international safeguards, possibly putting Syria in breech of an international nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

Plutonium-producing reactors are of international interest because plutonium can be used to make high-yield nuclear weapons or conventional bombs that disperse radioactive material when they explode, rendering an area potentially unsafe for humans for years.

Israeli warplanes bombed the site in Syria on Sept. 6, 2007. Private analysts said at the time it appeared to have been the site of a reactor, based on commercial satellite imagery taken after the raid. Syria later razed the site. A new, larger building has been constructed in its place.

Commercial satellite imagery from January analyzed by the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington shows the new building is 60 meters by 60 meters, compared to the original 47-by-47 building that was destroyed last year. It has a vaulted roof, different from the original flat roof. It appears to be connected by a series of trenches and pipes to a possible water treatment facility.

U.S. officials said Israel shared intelligence with the United States before the bombing after administration officials expressed doubts that the site was a nuclear reactor built with North Korea's assistance, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the existence of the videotape on its Web site Wednesday.

The target of Israel's raid has been veiled in secrecy, with U.S. intelligence and government officials refusing to confirm until now suspicions that the site was to be a nuclear reacto

No comments: