With the IAEA’s next Board of Governors meeting set to begin tomorrow, the probe into Syria’s alleged secret nuclear facility appears to be faltering over lack of evidence. While the analysis of the samples taken from the facility during the IAEA’s June visit to the site are only partially complete, the tests so far have found nothing to back up the US claims about the nature of the target.
Israeli planes attacked the site in September of last year, with the help of the United States. While Israel’s government has remained officially silent about the operation to this day, the Bush Administration told Congress in April that the facility was designed to produce small amounts of plutonium. Dana Perino also said the White House was convinced the facility “was not intended for peaceful purposes”.
But other than a handful of Israeli diplomats claiming to have overheard a Syrian admit the site was a “nuclear facility,” the evidence so far remains elusive. While a still-in-construction facility wouldn’t have had radioactive material yet, the Israeli strike should have strewn a significant amount of graphite around the area if the was truly being built for the alleged purpose.
The only explanation given for the lack of this evidence is a quote from an anonymous diplomat who claimed “the feeling is that the Syrians may have dumped all of it down the hole“. Syria built a new building over the top of the attacked site, which it insists was just an ordinary military building.
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei condemned Israel and the US for their “unilateral use of force” and for withholding information on the site until seven months after the attack. Syria agreed to a single visit, but with it yielding no results the IAEA has reportedly asked to visit “three or four other sites“. Syria declined the request for additional visits to other sites, citing security concerns.