Syria Builds at Ruined Site of Israeli Airstrike
Syria has begun new construction on the ruined site of a mysterious facility where some U.S. officials believe a secret nuclear reactor was being built.
However, nuclear experts played down the possibility that the new building has a nuclear purpose.
The facility, visible in images taken by a commercial satellite, is being built directly over the building that was destroyed Sept. 6 in an airstrike by Israeli warplanes. Syria has denied allegations that a partially constructed nuclear reactor was the target of the raid. North Korea had been helping Syria build the facility, U.S. officials said.
"It would be very unlikely for this to be a reactor, and we would be very surprised if they tried to put a reactor inside this building," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, who analyzed the images and provided a copy to The Washington Post.
Albright said the new facility appears significantly different from the earlier one, having slightly larger dimensions and a vaulted roof. There are no visible signs suggesting a nuclear purpose, he said.
The new construction could complicate future efforts by outsiders to determine the purpose of the original building, Albright said. He added that it is possible that Syria might have constructed the facility to allow the country to secretly excavate all traces of the original building out of the view of spy satellites.
U.S. intelligence officials declined comment on the new photos.
-- Joby Warrick