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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Secret nuke site in Syria

From AP:

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 Syria closely match the design of a uranium enrichment plant provided to Libya when Moammar Gadhafi was trying to build nuclear weapons under Khan's guidance, officials told The Associated Press.

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency also has obtained correspondence between Khan and a Syrian government official, Muhidin Issa, who proposed scientific cooperation and a visit to Khan's laboratories following Pakistan's successful nuclear test in 1998.

The complex, in the city of Al-Hasakah, 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 Syria in 2007, the unlikely coincidence in design suggests Syria may have been pursuing two routes to an atomic bomb: uranium as well as plutonium.

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.
If you want to explore the site yourself on Google Maps, where you can zoom in pretty well, here it is.

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(h/t Israel Matzav)