Here’s the video briefing prepared by the feds last week for Congress, in two parts. The LA Times is the first out of the box in calling shenanigans, espying nefarious fauxtographic manipulation by the CIA. Hey, guys? Half the video is CGI and computer graphics. Of course the image is enhanced. As for the second example they offer, in which the reactor magically changes from a rectangle to a square, I’m guessing that’s either a slight difference in the angle at which the two shots were taken or a cave-in towards the center in the lower image, which was obviously taken some time after the upper one. All theories are welcome, but if you’re inclined to accuse them of photoshopping, kindly explain why they would have ‘shopped one image but not the other.
There are genuine questions being raised about the reactor, though. Michael Hayden claims that it was similar in size and sophistication to the NorK reactor at Yongbyon that it was apparently modeled on, which would have meant one or two plutonium bombs a year once they got it online. But read this post at Arms Control Wonk using the feds’ own photographic evidence for a rebuttal. Yongbyon appears to have many more fuel rods than al-Kibar did, which means it’s hard to see how Syria could have churned out the same amount of plutonium at the same rate. But note: “On the other hand, maybe there are design differences in the size of the channels or the rods that we aren’t taking into account.” Stay tuned.