03 March '15..
Summary: As the world negotiates with Iran about their nuclear program, it is worth remembering lessons from Syria’s nuclear plant in 2007.
In September 2007, something significant happened in the Middle East. While the details were very murky as the news reports were cryptic, it was clear that a major event came-and-went. Over the following months and years, more information emerged about Syria’s nascent nuclear program and Israel’s attack that destroyed it.
|Syrian nuclear reactor, 2007|
Failure to Detect
Syria began to investigate the feasibility of a nuclear program in the 1990s and by the mid-2000s it was building a nuclear facility with the help of North Korea. The facility was being constructed roughly 100 miles from the Iraqi border. During its construction, hundreds of thousands of American troops were busy a few miles from the construction site during the Iraq War. Many reconnaissance missions repeatedly flew over the Syrian site, but US intelligence failed to detect that Syria had embarked on plans to build a weapon of mass destruction. For years.
The New York Times stated that “the Americans were somewhat blindsided…. By their own account, they…only identified the plant at Al Kibar, named for the nearest town, after they received photos of the interior of the plant last spring from Israel… But even this victory [of destroying the plant], some experts note, raises questions about the [CIA]’s focus. The reactor was built within 100 miles of the Iraqi border yet never identified even though the administration was searching for any form of such arms programs in Iraq…. Graham Allison, a Harvard professor and author of “Nuclear Terrorism,” who was in Washington on Thursday to testify about Iran’s nuclear program [said] ‘if you can build a reactor in Syria without being detected for eight years, how hard can it be to sell a little plutonium to Osama bin Laden?’”