We’ll need a watchdog to watch the “watchdog.”

VIENNA, Austria – U.N. experts have received satellite imagery of the site struck last month by Israeli warplanes and are analyzing it for signs that it might have been a secret nuclear facility, diplomats said Friday.

One of the diplomats indicated that the photos came from U.S intelligence. Two others said the images, which have been studied by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency since being received on Thursday, do not at first examination appear to substantiate reports that the target was a nuclear installation, but emphasized that the images were still under examination…

Since the Sept. 6 bombing, news media have quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying that the airstrike hit some sort of nuclear facility linked to North Korea, which is now in the process of dismantling its nuclear weapons program. On Friday, The Washington Post cited American officials as saying the site in Syria’s eastern desert near the Euphrates River had characteristics of a small but substantial nuclear reactor similar to North Korea’s facility.

The investigation by the IAEA — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — is crucial because it is the first instance of an independent and respected organization looking at the evidence and trying to reach a conclusion as to what was hit.

I guess that depends on what you mean by “independent” and “respected.” I don’t find the IAEA to be either one.

We have the possibility of a he said-she said being set up here, with the US and Israel claiming that the site was nuclear and the IAEA/UN/Syria saying not so. The UN’s already played a dubious role in the affair, but the US has the whole Iraq-WMD debacle to live down. Who will the world believe?

Update: Soccer Dad has report of Syria cleaning up the site that Israel struck.

Syria has begun dismantling the remains of a site Israel bombed Sept. 6 in what may be an attempt to prevent the location from coming under international scrutiny, said U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the aftermath of the attack.

Based on overhead photography, the officials say the site in Syria’s eastern desert near the Euphrates River had a “signature” or characteristics of a small but substantial nuclear reactor, one similar in structure to North Korea’s facilities.

The dismantling of the damaged site, which appears to be still underway, could make it difficult for weapons inspectors to determine the precise nature of the facility and how Syria planned to use it.

Uh, yeah.

Tags: Israel