Cablegate: Iaea/Syria: Multiple Smoking Guns in Dg Report On

Published: Wed 19 Nov 2008 05:58 PM
O 191758Z NOV 08
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) The Director General's report on the
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian
Arab Republic (GOV/2008/60), released on November 19,
provides a compelling case for continued investigations into
the existence of an undeclared reactor at Al Kibar (referred
to in the report as Dair Alzour) and for pursuit of a Board
of Governors resolution in support of that investigation.
2. (SBU) The report highlights 1) the continued Agency
requests for information and access that largely remain
unanswered, 2) technical analysis of the buildings and water
pumping capacity, concluding that these features are
consistent with a nuclear reactor "of the type alleged,"
despite Syria's claims to the contrary, 3) commercial imagery
showing that, while Syria is denying the IAEA access to three
additional sites, Syria has taken steps to sanitize the sites
and 4) sampling results showing man-made uranium. The
Secretariat notes that "While it cannot be excluded that the
building in question was intended for non-nuclear use, the
features of the building, as described above, 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."
Syria's Lack of Cooperation and Possible
Concealment Activities
3. (SBU) The IAEA chronicles the correspondence between the
Agency and Syria, demonstrating Syria's lack of
responsiveness and transparency. The IAEA requested access
to Al Kibar and three additional sites on May 2, 2008, as
well as supporting documentation concerning the past and
current use of the building at the Al Kibar sites and the
three other locations. After not responding to four requests
by the Agency for the documentation (June 24 - the second
request, July 3, and August 15), Syria notifies the Agency in
an August 24 letter that any further developments are
contingent on the results of the sample analyses. (Note: The
Director General informed the Board members of this at the
September Board of Governors meeting. End Note.)
4. (SBU) With respect to the three additional locations,
the report notes that the locations "are alleged to have been
functionally related to the Dair Alzour site (Al Kibar)."
The chronology of events cites four requests to visit Syria
(2008: May 2, July 3, August 15, and October 22), two of
which specifically request access to the three sites (May 2
and October 22). The report further notes that the Agency
has not received a response to the latest, October 22,
request, which is also the Agency's fifth request for
5. (SBU) In addition, the IAEA's analysis of satellite
imagery taken of the three locations indicates that
"landscaping activities and the removal of large containers
took place" shortly after the Agency's request for access.
The Agency carefully notes that these activities could be
unrelated to the Al Kibar site, but nonetheless requests an
explanation and access. The report notes that "Syria has not
yet acceded to the Agency's request to provide any
documentation relevant to the destroyed building, or any of
the other buildings, to support its statements."
Sampling Results
6. (SBU) The IAEA provided the results of the environmental
sample analyses to Syria, as requested by Syria. The report
identifies that a "significant number of natural uranium
particles" were found by "a number of the Agency's Network of
Analytic Laboratories." The particles were found to be
anthropogenic (man-made). Syria's responded to the sampling
results by noting that "the only explanation for the presence
of these modified uranium particles is that they were
contained in the missiles that were dropped from the Israeli
planes onto the building to increase the destructive power."
In addition, Syria called on the IAEA to verify the nature of
the materials used in these missiles. Syria noted to the
IAEA that the results "do not show any materials belonging to
the construction of a nuclear reactor," although the DG
report does not raise a similar concern or conclusion.
If it Quacks Like a Duck...
7. (SBU) Syria claims to the Agency that the Al Kibar site
was a military installation unrelated to any nuclear
applications. Syria further explained that the destroyed
building could not have been a nuclear facility because of
the unreliable and insufficient electricity supplies in the
area, the limited availability of human resources in Syria,
and the unavailability of large quantities of treated water.
8. (SBU) The DG report reviews the Agency's analysis of the
information it had available from its visit and from other
sources such as commercial and other satellite imagery, open
source photographs said to have been taken at the Al Kibar
site before the building was destroyed, information regarding
procurement and the results of the environment sampling
analyses. (Note: In the instances where information is
attributed to member states, the report makes clear the
information comes from more than one member state. End Note.)
9. (SBU) In its review of imagery, the IAEA found that the
"containment structure" visible after the destruction of the
facility at the site, "appears to have been similar in
dimension and layout to that required for a biological shield
for nuclear reactors, and the overall size of the building
was sufficient to house the equipment needed for a nuclear
reactor of the type alleged."
10. (SBU) The Agency also calculated the water pumping
infrastructure at the Al Kibar site had a pumping capacity
adequate for a reactor of the size referred to in the
"allegation" (25 Megawatt-thermal). In addition, the IAEA
notes that the Agency observed sufficient electrical capacity
to operate the pumping system.
11. (SBU) Part of the Agency's investigation is focused on
"efforts by Syrian entities to procure materials and
equipment which could support the construction and operation
of a nuclear reactor." The DG report notes the procurement
of "such items" (not further identified) could be for a
non-nuclear use. Again, Syria is noted as not responding to
an Agency request for information related to procurements.
Commercial Imagery
12. (SBU) The IAEA indicates it has acquired non-commercial
imagery from "member states" covering the period immediately
after the bombing. The Agency has been recently authorized
to share this non-commercial imagery with Syria at its next
Agency Conclusions
13. (SBU) The Director General predictably expresses concern
about the unilateral use of force, although he does not
express similar concern to the lack of
transparency/cooperation, possible concealment activities,
and the possibility of the existence of an undeclared nuclear
reactor in Syria. The Director General does, however, call
on Syria to provide the necessary transparency, including
visits to the requested locations and access to all available
information, for the Agency to complete its assessment.
ElBaradei calls on other States that may possess relevant
information, including satellite imagery, to make this
available to the Agency and to authorize the Agency to share
the information with Syria. The report also notes that the
Agency plans to approach Israel to request "information
pertaining to Syria's claims regarding the origin of the
uranium particles."
14. (SBU) Mission believes the DG's report helpfully
establishes a multi-faceted basis for upping the ante in
regard to the Agency's investigation in Syria, including via
a possible resolution in support of the investigation at the
upcoming November 27 Board meeting. While elements of the
report are not helpful and will very likely be lifted as
proposed countering text by NAM states in discussion of any
Board resolution (e.g., the DG's emphasis on how the IAEA
investigation was "severely hampered by the unilateral use of
force and by the late provision of information"), the report
will make it more difficult for Syria's blanket denials to be
seen as credible by many Board members. On balance, the
report reads as if written by someone who believes there was
a reactor at Al Kibar, and initial press coverage of the
(rapidly leaked) report reflects that tone.
End Cable Text
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