Diplomatic sources reported to AP that US intelligence agencies had sent the satellite images to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Its experts have found nothing to substantiate the claim that the site hit was a secret nuclear facility.
DEBKAfileâ€™s intelligence sources report that the credibility of the data Israel presented to Washington before the air strike continues to be questioned in some Washington quarters. They contend that, even if the target was a nuclear facility under construction, it would not have posed a threat for years. One purpose of this argument is to belittle Israelâ€™s intelligence findings and detract from questions about how other agencies and the nuclear watchdog missed them. Another is to put the Bush administration on the spot for approving the Israeli air attack in order to deter it from a military strike against Iran.
Friday, Oct. 19, two days after President George W. Bush said an Iranian nuclear bomb could lead to World War III, The Washington Post reported that Syria had begun dismantling the remains of a bombed site near the Euphrates River in an attempt to prevent it coming under international scrutiny. It bears the â€œsignature,â€ said the paper, â€œof a small but substantial nuclear reactor, one similar in structure to North Koreaâ€™s facilities.â€
The WP adds: The bombed facility is different from the one Syria displayed to journalists last week to support its claim that Israel had bombed an empty building.
DEBKAfileâ€™s intelligence sources have reported from Day One of the bombing that the structure (sic) Israel bombed was located between the Euphrates and Lake Assad and that the Syrians misled correspondents by showing them a site at Deir al-Azur. Our military sources also refuted Damascusâ€™ claim that Israeli bombers had ejected unmarked fuel tanks over Turkey. They were dropped by the Turkish air force, as Syrian president Bashar Assad was informed during his visit to Ankara this week. The genuine Israel fuel tanks with Hebrew markings were shown this week by Al Arabiya TV.
DEBKAfileâ€™s sources: The â€œno commentâ€ line to which the US and Israel are sticking is having the desired effects, which are:
1. To keep Syria in the dark about the amount of intelligence garnered by the US and Israel on its nuclear activities.
2. To entangle the Assad regime in its own untruths, which are spun in an effort to conceal the location that was struck and disguise its true nature. The Syrian version is crumbling piece by piece each time another authentic element is published, at the heavy cost to Assadâ€™s prestige at home and abroad.
20 Oct 2007