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article imageOp-Ed: Large amounts of Uranium missing from Syrian Stockpile

By Eliot Elwar     Jan 12, 2013 in World
Large amounts of uranium appear to be missing from Syria’s Mar Al Sultan enrichment facility. It was originally intended to supply uranium to Syria’s Al Kibar nuclear reactor. Iran may be trying to acquire more uranium for its nuclear weapons program.
Commercial satellite imagery of the Marj Al Sultan site shows two things. First an orchard at the facility has gradually been cleared in October, November, and December of 2012. Second Syrian military defensive positions have been established around the facility and there are signs of battle damage, according to a Financial Times report.
Bashar Assad was near to building a nuclear reactor at Al-Kibar in eastern Syria with North Korean assistance when it was destroyed by Israel in 2007. The stock of 50 tonnes of unenriched uranium, enough for weapons grade fuel for five atomic weapons, has since gone missing and probably was passed to Iran, according to DEBKAfiles.
Fears have been triggered by signs of movement at a secret uranium conversion facility that the Syrian regime built at the town of Marj al-Sultan near Damascus. The Syrian reactor was designed on the North Korean model at Yongbyon. Failure to destroy this facility would have facilitated the creation of an allied nuclear weapons production chain operating from Pyongyang through Tehran to Damascus, according to the DEBKAfiles.
Analysis
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) 2007, attack on Syria's al-Kibar nuclear facility surprised everyone. The operation executed by the IAF, paralleled Israel's 1981 attack on Iraq's Osirak reactor, but with significant differences. First, Israel remained silent after the al-Kibar bombing, while in 1981 it boasted publicly about the Iraq strike even before the pilots had returned from the mission. Second, whereas the international community knew of Saddam Hussein's nuclear plans in 1981, few analysts were aware of the extent of Syria's nuclear program in 2007.
Eventually, on 28 April 2011, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano publicly stated that the site bombed by Israel in Syria in 2007 was in fact a secret nuclear reactor. Amano's statement followed a press conference on 7 March 2011, where he had indicated that Syria had not been cooperative in resolving questions related to the site since the IAEA began investigations in June 2008, according to Global Security news. Today, Israel faces a similar situation with Iran’s nuclear weapons development program. The missing uranium may be already under the control of Iran’s researchers located somewhere underground in one of its many nuclear research facilities.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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