IAEA: Syrian site failed the duck test

Syria denies that the site hit by Israel in September 2007 had anything to do with nuclear work, but the IAEA says it looked and quacked like an atomic duck to them.  Inspectors on the ground report that the remains of the site indicated that significant water-pumping capacity in a configuration needed for a nuclear reactor existed before the bombing.  The IAEA called on Syria to begin cooperating by providing the debris they rushed to excavate after the bombing:

A Syrian complex bombed by Israel bore features resembling those of an undeclared nuclear reactor and Syria must cooperate more with U.N. inspectors, a watchdog report said on Wednesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency report said “significant” amounts of uranium particles were found at the site by inspectors in June but it was not enough to prove a reactor was there and further investigation was needed.

The confidential report, obtained by Reuters, said the IAEA would ask Syria to show debris and equipment it whisked away from the site after the September 2007 Israeli air raid. Washington says the target was a nascent reactor meant to produce plutonium for atomic bombs. Syria denies this. Syria says Israel’s target was a disused military building and the uranium traces almost certainly came with the munitions used to bomb it. Damascus has also dismissed as fabricated the satellite imagery and other intelligence propelling the probe. “While it cannot be excluded that the building in question was intended for non-nuclear use, the features of the building, along with the connectivity of the site to adequate pumping capacity of cooling water, are similar to what may be found in connection with a reactor site,” said the IAEA report, sent to its 35-nation board of governors ahead of a November 27-28 meeting.

It noted that Syria has not produced requested documentation to support its declarations about the nature of the building nor agreed to follow-up IAEA visits to three other locations seen as harboring possible evidence linked to Israel’s target.

If Syria had nothing to hide from the IAEA, why did they rush to grab the debris and haul it off?  Why won’t they allow the inspectors to visit the other sites, if they have nothing to do with nuclear work?  The quickest route to exoneration would be complete cooperation.  The fact that Syria hasn’t provided that fails a duck test all on its own.

It looks like Israel has saved the West from having nuclear weapons fall into the hands of Arab dictators — twice.  As with Osirak in the early 1980s, the Syrian site represented an existential threat to Israel and to Western interests in the region.  The strange reluctance of Bashar Assad to cooperate with the IAEA confirms all of the suspicions of Israel and the US that led to the raid.

Update: Just for fun, here’s another kind of duck test altogether:

It’s a fair cop.