Thursday, May 29, 2008

US suspects Syria hiding nuclear facilities

May. 29, 2008

Although American efforts to defuse the nuclear crisis with Iran have yet to bear fruit, the Bush administration now appears to be focusing on yet another nuclear program which they believe is under secret development, this time in Syria.

In a report published by the Washington Post on Thursday, the US is said to be appealing to the United Nations to send inspectors to search for hidden nuclear facilities in the country. According to the report, the Bush administration suspects that Syria is hiding at least three sites, which they believe were intended to support a nuclear reactor which was destroyed in September. On September 6, Israeli warplanes reportedly bombed a nuclear reactor deep in Syrian territory. Damascus has repeatedly denied ever having built a reactor, and soon after the bombing, bulldozed the area and erected buildings on top of the site. Israel has never formally admitted to carrying out the attack.

US intelligence suspects that at least three secret facilities may have been used to provide fuel for that nuclear reactor, the report states.

In a briefing to US congressmen earlier in the year, intelligence officials suggested that the Syrian reactor was nearly operational at the time that it was bombed. Yet no fuel source has ever been found for the reactor - a fact which has baffled experts. The suggestion that nuclear facilities still exist in the country and remain hidden potentially solves that problem.

US government officials declined to describe the specific sites that have drawn interest, or to discuss how they were identified, according to the Washington Post report.

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