The New York Times reported on Saturday that independent analysts have determined that construction of the alleged nuclear reactor on Syrian soil which was bombed last month by Israel may have begun as
early as 2001.
The analysts cited satellite images of the complex taken by a private commercial company in 2003 as evidence. The new images depict large-scale construction works at the site in question.
Syria accused Israel of conducting a raid in its territory in early September but denied the target was a nuclear reactor. American analysts who have studied the newly released images asserted that the complex posed a credible nuclear threat.
The reactor, before and after (Photo: Reuters)
The experts' determination that construction on the site had begun in 2001 may support the claim that North Korea began aiding Syria in the late 1990's.
The paper also quoted an unnamed US security official who said that American intelligence had been
aware of the site and had been keeping tabs on the evolving project for years.
Earlier in the week new satellite footage of the region showed the structure had been completely razed after the Israeli raid in an apparent attempt by the Syrians to hide any incriminating evidence.
Analysts said the cleanup will hinder a proposed investigation by international nuclear inspectors. ''It (Syria) took down this facility so quickly it looks like they are trying to hide something,'' said David
Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, which analyzed the images.
Syria is signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has allowed agency experts to inspect its only known nuclear facility - a small, 27-kilowatt reactor, according to diplomats linked to the IAEA.