Yesterday, the CIA released footage of an alleged Syrian North-Korean-built nuclear reactor. The footage “exploded” all over the news.
The story started with an Israel air strike on an unknown target in the Syrian northern desert in September 2007. Speculations about a possible nuclear cooperation between Syria and North Korea has been floating since then. But both Israel and the US have kept an official policy of secrecy over the target, until yesterday.
Syrian officials have repeatedly denied the allegations. And the IAEA was highly critical of the US and Israel for concealing the information until now, and for referring to force before giving the UN a chance to confirm the information.
Syrian bloggers have been very skeptical about the contents of the footage, almost everybody still remembers the confidence with which Collin Powell briefed the UN about Iraq's never-to-be-found WMDs.
Joshua Landis rounds up media reactions on the footage, and comments on America's “Shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later” policy.
The second criticism of the CIA's effort was to argue that Washington should not be encouraging Israel to launch bombing raids without first going through legal channels, international agencies, and peaceful alternatives. Shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later policies are sure to undermine US legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. They will do nothing to dispel Arab anger at US and Israeli arrogance. On the contrary, the propensity to use force as a first option will convince others to do the same.
Sasa from The Syria News Wire, tries to put the accusations in their international context, and wonders why did they wait this long to release such “important” information.
There's nothing new here. These accusations were leveled when Israel destroyed a building in Syria with an air raid last September. Now the US has produced photographic ‘evidence’ and given it to the UN nuclear agency. But they're not happy – the IAEA is furious at the delay in handing these photos over.
So why the delay? Look at the timing. It comes on the day America is about to finish negotiating with North Korea. And it comes two days after Israel revealed it was willing to return the whole Occupied Golan Heights in return for a peace treaty with Syria.
And finally, we stop at Ihsan‘s, where he also seems highly skeptical of any concrete facts behind the allegations, but raises another issue: Whatever is the purpose of that building, we seem to have a case of high treason. “Have some heads rolled in Damascus over this or not?” he asks.
The photos were not just taken from a satellite; in fact, the most compelling photos were taking from within, outside, and few meters away from the building and during different phases of its construction. Whoever took them was available on site and did not just sneak some peaks from afar. The alleged extreme secrecy surrounding the “project” would naturally suggest extreme security measures and “no cameras allowed” signs all over the place. Yet, the person(s) took the shots was pretty comfortable judging from the angles of the photos. This means one of two things, it has never been a top secret covert location as claimed and anyone could get there, or the presence of a huge fat rat among or a friend of the elite and most trusty people who were in charge of it. I, however, lean toward the latter.