Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Mystery in Syria - Continued
David Albright and Paul Brannan of ISIS provide a bit more information that may relate to the site in Syria (Dair Alzour or al Kibar) that Israel bombed in April 2008. According to them, they have located at least one of the sites recently mentioned by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung as being related to that site. In a 2006 photo, reproduced here from the ISIS report, rows of items are stored on the ground. The quality of the photo isn't quite good enough to discern exactly what they are, but some surmises can be made.
There are a lot of them. They appear to be cylindrical, with protrusions at both ends. Missiles would have protrusions at one end only. They look to be maybe ten feet long and a foot or two in the narrower diameter; that's a guess from eyeballing them and the buildings in the photos; a more careful scaling might get a better dimension.
They are not gas centrifuges, which are precision instruments and would not be laid out in the weather, unless they are from a disassembled plant. Their shape and number do not readily suggest nuclear reactor components. They could be chemical or biological reaction vessels; again, leaving them out in the weather seems inadvisable, although reaction vessels are more robust than centrifuges. Another possibility is that they are tanks for storing gases or liquids. The substances in question might be uranium hexafluoride, although what Syria would do with these quantities is questionable unless an enrichment plant is found. Or they might hold chemical warfare agents. One of the surmises about the bombed site was that it was for missile storage or other military purposes, and Syria is believed to have chemical and biological weapons programs.
The last seems most likely to me. But, if al Kibar was indeed a reactor, there is no connection other than possibly being operated by Syrian military.