Syria's Mysterious Cleanup

There is more news today on the mysterious goings-on at what is thought to be the site in Syria hit last month by a surprise Israeli airstrike. Earlier this week, David Albright, a former weapons inspector for the United Nations who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, identified on prebombing satellite images what may have been Israel's target: an apparent secret Syrian nuclear reactor under construction.

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There is more news today on the mysterious goings-on at what is thought to be the site in Syria hit last month by a surprise Israeli airstrike. Earlier this week, David Albright, a former weapons inspector for the United Nations who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, identified on prebombing satellite images what may have been Israel's target: an apparent secret Syrian nuclear reactor under construction.

Now, with DigitalGlobe satellite images taken Wednesday, Albright and his colleagues at the Washington think tank are reporting that Syria has removed whatever was left at the site and has bulldozed the ground. It is not clear how close to completion Syria was at its secret nuclear reactor site—if it was that. Syria has issued denials, and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is doing its own analysis of satellite imagery and other evidence.

"Dismantling and removing the building at such a rapid pace dramatically complicates any inspection of the facilities and suggests that Syria may be trying to hide what was there," says the new report.

The ISIS report raises the question of whether Syria has violated its obligations under agreements with the IAEA, which maintains so-called safeguards on Syria's one declared small research reactor. Syria has denied building a nuclear reactor.

—Terry Atlas