Israel’s Ploy Selling a Syrian Nuke Strike

Exclusive: The Iraq WMD fiasco wasn’t the only time political pressure twisted U.S. intelligence judgments. In 2007, Israel sold the CIA on a dubious claim about a North Korean nuclear reactor in the Syrian desert, reports Gareth Porter.

By Gareth Porter

In September 2007, Israeli warplanes bombed a building in eastern Syria that the Israelis claimed held a covert nuclear reactor that had been built with North Korean assistance. Seven months later, the CIA released an extraordinary 11-minute video and mounted press and Congressional briefings that supported that claim.

Satellite photos of the supposed Syrian nuclear site before and after the Israeli airstrike.

But nothing about that alleged reactor in the Syrian desert turns out to be what it appeared at the time. The evidence now available shows that there was no such nuclear reactor, and that the Israelis had misled George W. Bush’s administration into believing that it was in order to draw the United States into bombing missile storage sites in Syria. Other evidence now suggests, moreover, that the Syrian government had led the Israelis to believe wrongly that it was a key storage site for Hezbollah missiles and rockets.

The International Atomic Agency’s top specialist on North Korean reactors, Egyptian national Yousry Abushady, warned top IAEA officials in 2008 that the published CIA claims about the alleged reactor in the Syrian desert could not possibly have been true. In a series of interviews in Vienna and by phone and e-mail exchanges over several months Abushady detailed the technical evidence that led him to issue that warning and to be even more confident about that judgment later on. And a retired nuclear engineer and research scientist with many years of experience at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has confirmed a crucial element of that technical evidence.

Published revelations by senior Bush administration officials show, moreover, that principal U.S. figures in the story all had their own political motives for supporting the Israeli claim of a Syrian reactor being built with North Korean help.
Vice President Dick Cheney hoped to use the alleged reactor to get President George W. Bush to initiate U.S. airstrikes in Syria in the hope of shaking the Syrian-Iranian alliance. And both Cheney and then CIA Director Michael Hayden also hoped to use the story of a North Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria to kill a deal that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was negotiating with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program in 2007-08.

Mossad Chief’s Dramatic Evidence

In April 2007 the chief of Israel’s Mossad foreign intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, presented Cheney, Hayden and National Security Adviser Steven Hadley with evidence of what he said was a nuclear reactor being constructed in eastern Syria with the help of the North Koreans. Dagan showed them nearly a hundred hand-held photographs of the site revealing what he described as the preparation for the installation of a North Korean reactor and claimed that it was only a few months from being operational.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

The Israelis made no secret of their desire to have a U.S. airstrike destroy the alleged nuclear facility. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called President Bush immediately after that briefing and said, “George, I’m asking you to bomb the compound,” according to the account in Bush’s memoirs.

Cheney, who was known to be a personal friend of Olmert, wanted to go further. At White House meetings in subsequent weeks, Cheney argued forcefully for a U.S. attack not only on the purported reactor building but on Hezbollah weapons storage depots in Syria. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who participated in those meetings, recalled in his own memoirs that Cheney, who was also looking for an opportunity to provoke a war with Iran, hoped to “rattle Assad sufficiently so as to end his close relationship with Iran” and “send a powerful warning to the Iranians to abandon their nuclear ambitions.”

CIA Director Hayden aligned the agency clearly with Cheney on the issue, not because of Syria or Iran but because of North Korea. In his book, Playing to the Edge, published last year, Hayden recalls that, at a White House meeting to brief President Bush the day after Dagan’s visit, he whispered in Cheney’s ear, “You were right, Mr. Vice-President.”

Hayden was referring to the fierce political struggle within the Bush administration over North Korea policy that had been underway ever since Condoleezza Rice had become Secretary of State in early 2005. Rice had argued that diplomacy was the only realistic way to get Pyongyang to retreat from its nuclear weapons program. But Cheney and his administration allies John Bolton and Robert Joseph (who succeeded Bolton as the key State Department policymaker on North Korea after Bolton become U.N. Ambassador in 2005) were determined to end the diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang.

Cheney was still maneuvering to find a way to prevent the successful completion of the negotiations, and he saw the story of a Syrian nuclear reactor built secretly in the desert with help from the North Koreans as bolstering his case. Cheney reveals in his own memoirs that in January 2008, he sought to sandbag Rice’s North Korea nuclear deal by getting her to agree that a failure by North Korea to “admit they’ve proliferating to the Syrians would be a deal killer.”

Three months later, the CIA released its unprecedented 11-minute video supporting the entire Israeli case for a North-Korean-style nuclear reactor that was nearly completed. Hayden recalls that his decision to release the video on the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in April 2008 was “to avoid a North Korean nuclear deal being sold to a Congress and a public ignorant of this very pertinent and very recent episode.”

The video, complete with computer reconstructions of the building and photographs from the Israelis made a big splash in the news media. But one specialist on nuclear reactors who examined the video closely found abundant reason to conclude that the CIA’s case was not based on real evidence.

Technical Evidence against a Reactor

Egyptian national Yousry Abushady was a PhD in nuclear engineering and 23-year veteran of the IAEA who had been promoted to section head for Western Europe in the operations division of agency’s Safeguards Department, meaning that he was in charge of all inspections of nuclear facilities in the region. He had been a trusted adviser to Bruno Pellaud, IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards from 1993 to 1999, who told this writer in an interview that he had “relied on Abushady frequently.”

Map of Syria.

Abushady recalled in an interview that, after spending many hours reviewing the video released by the CIA in April 2008 frame by frame, he was certain that the CIA case for a nuclear reactor at al-Kibar in the desert in eastern Syria was not plausible for multiple technical reasons. The Israelis and the CIA had claimed the alleged reactor was modeled on the type of reactor the North Koreans had installed at Yongbyon called a gas-cooled graphite-moderated (GCGM) reactor.

But Abushady knew that kind of reactor better than anyone else at the IAEA. He had designed a GCGM reactor for his doctoral student in nuclear engineering, had begun evaluating the Yongbyon reactor in 1993, and from 1999 to 2003 had headed the Safeguards Department unit responsible for North Korea.

Abushady had traveled to North Korea 15 times and conducted extensive technical discussions with the North Korean nuclear engineers who had designed and operated the Yongbyon reactor. And the evidence he saw in the video convinced him that no such reactor could have been under construction at al-Kibar.

On April 26, 2008, Abushady sent a “preliminary technical assessment” of the video to IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen, with a copy to Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. Abushady observed in his memorandum that the person responsible for assembling the CIA video was obviously unfamiliar with either the North Korean reactor or with GCGM reactors in general.

The first thing that struck Abushady about the CIA’s claims was that the building was too short to hold a reactor like the one in Yongbyon, North Korea.

“It is obvious,” he wrote in his “technical assessment” memo to Heinonen, “that the Syrian building with no UG [underground] construction, can not hold a [reactor] similar [to] NK GCR [North Korean gas-cooled reactor].”
Abushady estimated the height of the North Korean reactor building in Yongbyon at a 50 meters (165 feet) and estimated that the building at al-Kibar at a little more than a third as tall.

Abushady also found the observable characteristics of the al-Kibar site inconsistent with the most basic technical requirements for a GCGM reactor. He pointed out that the Yongbyon reactor had no less than 20 supporting buildings on the site, whereas the satellite imagery shows that the Syrian site did not have a single significant supporting structure.

The most telling indication of all for Abushady that the building could not have been a GCGM reactor was the absence of a cooling tower to reduce the temperature of the carbon dioxide gas coolant in such a reactor.
“How can you work a gas-cooled reactor in a desert without a cooling tower?” Abushady asked in an interview.

IAEA Deputy Director Heinonen claimed in an IAEA report that the site had sufficient pumping power to get river water from a pump house on the nearby Euphrates River to the site. But Abushady recalls asking Heinonen, “How could this water be transferred for about 1,000 meters and continue to the heat exchangers for cooling with the same power?”

Robert Kelley, a former head of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory and former senior IAEA inspector in Iraq, noticed another fundamental problem with Heinonen’s claim: the site had no facility for treating the river water before it reached the alleged reactor building.

“That river water would have been carrying debris and silt into the reactor heat exchangers,” Kelley said in an interview, making it highly questionable that a reactor could have operated there.

Yet another critical piece that Abushady found missing from the site was a cooling pond facility for spent fuel. The CIA had theorized that the reactor building itself contained a “spent fuel pond,” based on nothing more than an ambiguous shape in an aerial photograph of the bombed building.

But the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon and all 28 other GCGM reactors that had been built in the world all have the spent fuel pond in a separate building, Abushady said. The reason, he explained, was that the magnox cladding surrounding the fuel rods would react to any contact with moisture to produce hydrogen that could explode.

But the definitive and irrefutable proof that no GCGM reactor had been present at al-Kibar came from the environmental samples taken by the IAEA at the site in June 2008. Such a reactor would have contained nuclear-grade graphite, Abushady explained, and if the Israelis had actually bombed a GCGM reactor, it would have spread particles of nuclear-grade graphite all over the site.

Behrad Nakhai, a nuclear engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for many years, confirmed Abshuady’s observation in an interview. “You would have had hundreds of tons of nuclear-grade graphite scattered around the site,” he said, “and it would have been impossible to clean it up.”

IAEA reports remained silent for more than two years about what the samples showed about nuclear-grade graphite, then claimed in a May 2011 report that the graphite particles were “too small to permit an analysis of the purity compared to that normally required for use in a reactor.” But given the tools available to laboratories, the IAEA claim that they couldn’t determine whether the particles were nuclear grade or not “doesn’t make sense,” Nakhai said.

Hayden acknowledged in his 2016 account that “key components” of a nuclear reactor site for nuclear weapons were “still missing.” The CIA had tried to find evidence of a reprocessing facility in Syria that could be used to obtain the plutonium for a nuclear bomb but had been unable to find any trace of one.

The CIA also had found no evidence of a fuel fabrication facility, without which a reactor could not have gotten the fuel rods to be reprocessed. Syria could not have gotten them from North Korea, because the fuel fabrication plant at Yongbyon had produced no fuel rods since 1994 and was known to have fallen into serious disrepair after the regime had agreed to scrap its own plutonium reactor program.

Manipulated and Misleading Photographs

Hayden’s account shows that he was ready to give the CIA’s stamp of approval to the Israeli photographs even before the agency’s analysts had even begun analyzing them. He admits that when he met Dagan face-to-face he didn’t ask how and when Mossad had obtained the photographs, citing “espionage protocol” among cooperating intelligence partners. Such a protocol would hardly apply, however, to a government sharing intelligence in order to get the United States to carry out an act of war on its behalf.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

The CIA video relied heavily on the photographs that Mossad had given to Bush administration in making its case. Hayden writes that it was “pretty convincing stuff, if we could be confident that the pictures hadn’t been altered.”
But by his own account Hayden knew Mossad had engaged in at least one deception. He writes that when CIA experts reviewed the photographs from Mossad, they found that one of them had been photo-shopped to remove the writing on the side of a truck.

Hayden professes to have had no concern about that photo-shopped picture. But after this writer asked how CIA analysts interpreted Mossad’s photo shopping of the picture as one of the questions his staff requested in advance of a possible interview with Hayden, he declined the interview.

Abushady points out that the main issues with the photographs the CIA released publicly are whether they were actually taken at the al-Kibar site and whether they were consistent with a GCGM reactor. One of the photographs showed what the CIA video called “the steel liner for the reinforced-concrete reactor vessel before it was installed.” Abushady noticed immediately, however, that nothing in the picture links the steel liner to the al-Kibar site.

Both the video and CIA’s press briefing explained that the network of small pipes on the outside of the structure was for “cooling water to protect the concrete against the reactor’s intense heat and radiation.”
But Abushady, who specializes in such technology, pointed out that the structure in the picture bore no resemblance to a Gas-Cooled Reactor vessel. “This vessel cannot be for a Gas-Cooled Reactor,” Abushady explained, “based on its dimensions, it thickness and the pipes shown on the side of the vessel.”

The CIA video’s explanation that the network of pipes was necessary for “cooling water” made no sense, Abushady said, because gas-cooled reactors use only carbon dioxide gas — not water — as a coolant. Any contact between water and the Magnox-cladding used in that type of reactor, Abushady explained, could cause an explosion.

A second Mossad photograph showed what the CIA said were the “exit points” for the reactor’s control rods and fuel rods. The CIA juxtaposed that photograph with a photograph of the tops of the control rods and fuel rods of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon and claimed a “very close resemblance” between the two.

Abushady found major differences between the two pictures, however. The North Korean reactor had a total of 97 ports, but the picture allegedly taken at al-Kibar shows only 52 ports. Abushady was certain that the reactor shown in the photograph could not have been based on the Yongbyon reactor. He also noted that the picture had a pronounced sepia tone, suggesting that it was taken quite a few years earlier.
Abushady warned Heinonen and ElBaradei in his initial assessment that the photo presented as taken from inside the reactor building appeared to an old photo of a small gas-cooled reactor, most likely an early such reactor built in the U.K.

A Double Deception

Many observers have suggested that Syria’s failure to protest the strike in the desert loudly suggests that it was indeed a reactor. Information provided by a former Syrian air force major who defected to an anti-Assad military command in Aleppo and by the head of Syria’s atomic energy program helps unlock the mystery of what was really in the building at al-Kibar.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian major, “Abu Mohammed,” told The Guardian in February 2013 that he was serving in the air defense station at Deir Azzor, the city nearest to al-Kibar, when he got a phone call from a Brigadier General at the Strategic Air Command in Damascus just after midnight on Sept. 6, 2007. Enemy planes were approaching his area, the general said, but “you are to do nothing.”

The major was confused. He wondered why the Syrian command would want to let Israeli fighter planes approach Deir Azzor unhindered. The only logical reason for such an otherwise inexplicable order would be that, instead of wanting to keep the Israelis away from the building at al-Kibar, the Syrian government actually wanted the Israelis to attack it. In the aftermath of the strike, the Damascus issued only an opaque statement claiming that the Israeli jets had been driven away and remaining silent on the airstrike at al-Kibar.

Abushady told this writer he learned from meetings with Syrian officials during his final year at the IAEA that the Syrian government had indeed originally built the structure at al-Kibar for the storage of missiles as well as for a fixed firing position for them. And he said Ibrahim Othman, the head of Syria’s Atomic Energy Commission, had confirmed that point in a private meeting with him in Vienna in September 2015.

Othman also confirmed Abushady’s suspicion from viewing satellite photographs that the roof over the central room in the building had been made with two movable light plates that could be opened to allow the firing of a missile. And he told Abushady that he had been correct in believing that what had appeared in a satellite image immediately after the bombing to be two semi-circular shapes was what had remained of the original concrete launching silo for missiles.

In the wake of the Israel’s 2006 invasion of Southern Lebanon, the Israelis were searching intensively for Hezbollah missiles and rockets that could reach Israel and they believed many of those Hezbollah weapons were being stored in Syria. If they wished to draw the attention of the Israelis away from actual missile storage sites, the Syrians would have had good reason to want to convince the Israelis that this was one of their major storage sites.

Othman told Abushady that the building had been abandoned in 2002, after the construction had been completed. The Israelis had acquired ground-level pictures from 2001-02 showing the construction of outer walls that would hide the central hall of the building. The Israelis and the CIA both insisted in 2007-08 that this new construction indicated that it had to be a reactor building, but it is equally consistent with a building designed to hide missile storage and a missile-firing position.

Although Mossad went to great lengths to convince the Bush administration that the site was a nuclear reactor, what the Israelis really wanted was for the Bush administration to launch U.S. airstrikes against Hezbollah and Syrian missile storage sites. Senior officials of the Bush administration didn’t buy the Israeli bid to get the United States do the bombing, but none of them ever raised questions about the Israeli ruse.

So both the Assad regime and the Israeli government appear to have succeeded in carrying out their own parts in a double deception in the Syrian desert.

[A second part of this two part-series can be read here.]

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian on U.S. national security policy and the recipient of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, published in 2014.

78 comments for “Israel’s Ploy Selling a Syrian Nuke Strike

  1. AlanE
    November 21, 2017 at 07:02

    Rewrite the second paragraph … it’s important … it’s gobbledegook … then I might read the rest …

  2. jerry hoyt
    November 20, 2017 at 19:03

    Please Seer and Piotr….. it was good to read your answers. There were some things in them that had not occured to me…..

    be warned before reading this below. It may not be suitable except for the most lecherous prurient ?????

    There is another possible way Israel just might have to generate ultra loyal “worshipers”…. (excuse my spelling please)….. One has been on my mind for some time but never mentioned on the net. And for danged sure never even hinted at by the MSM.

    And that’s blackmail. Everyone who’s anyone of influence in the US has been to Israel more than once (possibly a slight exaggeration but ????). This includes BMOC on college campuses. Perhaps they are the very best candidates for their indoctrination on Israel worshiping.

    How many of them have been wined and dined and seduced and finally realized that glorious sexual trick they had secretly dreamed about since they were in the 7th grade

    I mean. If an influential person visiting Israel wanted to participate in what most of us would consider a horribly depraved sexual act with numerous and bizarre partners…… or even act in a snuff movie…. or pedophilia ….. or ?????? does anyone beside me think Israel would love make anyones most secret most horrific dreams come true?

    AND BE filmed by Israelis in color, black and white, sepia toned, magnified, vista visioned, wide screen, surround sound…. etc etc and a copy given to that influential person as they left Ben G. Airport to return to DC??????

    Think of the threats to any politician, wealthy man (woman), charismatic preacher, college student body president or even a crazy Oklahoma farmer, that Israel could devise.

    OK. OK Color me crazy. But admit it would work. Yeah… admit it It would work.

    Sure as hell awaits….it’s been done, is being done and will be done.

    • Zachary Smith
      November 20, 2017 at 22:04

      It would work, but it would also be counter-productive with Americans. I suspect most all the congressional visitors to Israel come as True Believers already. And from the evidence I’ve seen, covering up any successful hanky panky would cause them to be even more devout – and definitely want to go back!. Consider that congressman from Kansas who took off his clothes and swam naked in the Sea of Galilee. Very probably some member of his travel group leaked the information to the news. I just checked and found he is STILL a congressman from Kansas, so the voters back home didn’t mind some Holy Skinny Dipping.

      The Israelis certainly do the Honey Traps, but I don’t expect they’d work that scheme in Israel itself with Americans who are already on board with stealing and murdering for the Lord Jesus and his Second Coming.

  3. jerry hoyt
    November 19, 2017 at 19:04

    Some on help me please…… Why was (is) Cheney so absurdly in love with Israel? Whatever Israel wanted he was ready to deliver. He was far to the right of the most right-wing Zionist. Why?

    If he were a Jew it’d make sense but as far as I know there is no relation there. So why? Why did he lead the US down such a disastrous path. Why? He surely knew at some point he had become their all time stupid fool.

    i’m an Oklahoma farmer inexperienced in government employ so I want some information. Of course politicians seeking off must cow tow to the Israeli lobby for money but isn’t there somewhere way down the trail a point where a sane man (woman) would draw the line?

    What is their besides money that drives a politician to become a traitor to his country and become a slave to another state? Surely money couldn’t corrupt a man to do what Cheney did?

    • Seer
      November 19, 2017 at 21:49

      Cheney’s a United Methodist, which means he is free to believe in/interpret the Tribulation as he wishes to. If he does then that might be the linkage. He might be a hardcore, but given his deceptive self he’s safely residing behind the Methodist shield: whereas others, like a Lindsy Graham, a Baptist.

      I doubt that Cheney or anyone else believes they’re being a traitor, not purposely. As much as I detest that b@stard, it’s often just a matter of believing that YOU are right and that, but dint of whose loins you popped out of and what group of oligarchs preened you to “serve,” you feel that you have been “chosen” (perfect example is Bush II).

    • Piotr Berman
      November 19, 2017 at 22:49

      My theory than can answer jerry hoyt. Two mechanisms are at play. One is “infection”, support of Israel is a pet cause of a bunch of individuals with some money to spend on that cause, and their social standing among their peers depends on their efforts, and that translates into a considerable amount of political money, think tanks producing slogans and ready-to-use cadres for Administrations and congressional staff etc. The second which is more interesting is “susceptibility”. “Love of Israel” is a product that satisfies needs that extend much further than so-called Jewish Community.

      The complex spanning military, weapon manufacturing and “foreign policy” consumes non-negligible part of GDP, sufficient to fund a number of private fortunes and comfortable living for many, but its rank in national politics is much larger than those numbers require. The complex needs to manufacture causes, once we have causes we may score achievements, or areas of concern that require further measures. On the receiving end, private fortunes and comfortable living of “experts” etc. is maintained, while politicians get issues with gravity justifying their presence on the national scene. After the fall of Communist block, no cause is equally good to Israel. Consider alternatives and their demerits:

      defense of American soil against foreign invasion — an armada, from Canada or from Mexico? too preposterous

      defense of our indispensible European allies against foreign invasion — a bit better, but again, there is an issue why the poor Continentals cannot do it themselves, given that they are not that poor (or, if they are, like Latvia, they do not seem so indenspensible)

      same for far-Eastern allies — a bit better, while the combination of UK, France, Germany and some lesser countries has vastly larger GDP and manpower than Russia, China may potentially dominate the region, especially with Russian help, OTOH, S. Korea, Japan and Taiwan by themselves do a good job with a combination of their own militaries and diplomacy

      same for oil producers in Persian Gulf — here the main problem is that “we do not like them”, something that is already a problem in Far East (a shortage of “common Christian values”, slanted eyes etc.)

      By the way of contrast, Israel is religiously and racially close, “tiny country surrounded by hostile multitude” and so on and so on.

      Note also that cultivating North Korea as a designated enemy that requires huge specialized military spending for missile interception programs (that are futile against Russia and China) is also a bipartisan project.

      If I recall, deference to Israel was much smaller while Soviet block was in existence, while in the subsequent 20 years it gained support to make “fellatea donkey” skid equally funny and tragic. (note the absence of Dick Cheney in the video)

  4. Anonymot
    November 19, 2017 at 14:04

    Excellent, detailled article. In his brilliant, must-read book, THE DEVIL’S CHESSBOARD, David Talbot does an autopsy of the CIA and refers to it as “the iron fist of Deep State”. Deep State, in my opinion, is a mindset and it gels when enough of the right people nod together or shake their heads together. They then have a purpose and find a way to impose it on those who must approve the action necessary to achieve the goal. They, being masters of deception put together whatever is needed for their lies to seem reasonable.

    Once upon a time the role of the CIA was espionage. It was not politics. That’s all changed. GHW Bush walked them right into the Oval Office and they have been in charge of foreign policy ever since, even if the faulty son refused this Syrian , Netanyahu, CIA deal. It makes me wonder if Kushner is not an employee of Mossad and Bibi.

    • Piotr Berman
      November 19, 2017 at 15:21

      “Once upon a time the role of the CIA was espionage”. It reminds me a tidbit about Chinese Emperor who enacted severe penalties for talking about good old days, it was roughly 200 BC. “Operations” existed from the start, like supporting guerillas/terrorist in Soviet Union — leadership of those was clearly on the payroll. Perhaps disinformation component was unnecessary in those more innocent times, and/or it took more time to organize.

  5. geeyp
    November 19, 2017 at 12:51

    Michael Hayden wrote a …..”Playing to the Edge”. Now I will chuckle the rest of the day. Who ghost read it for him? Cheney?

  6. Douglas Baker
    November 19, 2017 at 11:07

    Jonathan, metallic uranium occurs naturally. In this case could be the consequence of Israeli depositing “deplete” uranium bombs on the site after a failed attempt to get the United States to bomb; unlike when Massad sheepherdered the united States into bombing Tripoli as lined out by Victor Ostrovsky with Claire Hoy in their book, “The Making of A Mossad Officer”.

  7. David Davidian
    November 19, 2017 at 10:35

    Part II

    (4) The facility appears to lack a spent fuel pool. Well first, there is no technical reason why the spent fuel pool needs to be above ground. It could be buried and be fully functional considering that the reactor would also be underground, and besides, the transport of spent fuel is made underwater as well. Second, there may not be an immediate need for functioning spent fuel pool (although it can’t be designed-in as an afterthought) as the reactor hadn’t even been started up. In commercial reactors, the fuel cycle is about 2-3 years, in submarines perhaps a year. In fact, it would be better if the pool were not above ground. In the Syrian desert airborne contaminants (that would be irradiated causing additional radioactive problems) would be much more difficult to filter out with the pool above ground.

    (5) Not only would high-quality graphite (carbon) be all over the place, but U238 as well. Interestingly, depleted uranium bullets are almost entirely U238 (as it natural uranium, that a GCGM reactor uses), an interesting coincidence. However, such bullet fragments would not have the high-quality graphite associated with graphite-moderated reactors, unless the bullets or other bomb fragments were specifically impregnated with such material – that is, planted evidence. There would be evidence of U238 even though the Syrians reportedly covered the place in concrete. Concrete will absorb most all of U238’s main decay product, alpha particles (helium nuclei). Evidence of helium would certainly point to substantial amounts of U238 in the vicinity.

    (6) There could be alternative reasons why a photoshopped truck image was presented to the CIA from Mossad. Technology exists to determine if an image has been intentionally photoshopped. So why make it so obvious when there are methods of image enhancement that are nearly impossible to detect? Perhaps the truck itself was a Mossad plant and the Israelis didn’t want to give out intelligence gathering techniques and a simple photoshop session would take care of such a problem.

    For all we know, the Kibar facility bombing could have been a synthesized cover or manufactured political enhancement for the assassination of high ranking Syrian and Iranian experts Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman, Imad Mughniyah, respectively, and probably others we don’t know. The Syrians claim Kibar was way station for missiles, which has always been a reason by itself for Israeli action.

    Yerevan, Armenia

  8. backwardsevolution
    November 19, 2017 at 08:35

    Gareth Porter – great report. Thanks.

    BBC interviewed former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim. Yikes, this guy is spilling the beans. Independent reporters have been saying this stuff, but not ex-prime ministers.

    “A few days ago, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar Hamad Bin Jassim in an interview with the BBC announced that his country had been providing all sorts of assistance to the armed opposition groups in Syria through Turkey for years. […]

    Hamad Bin Jassim announced that weapons and equipment was distributed to all sorts of opposition groups via Turkey. This operations were a common routine of American, Turkish and Saudi military personnel in this country. At the same time, the Incirlik Air Force base would host a joint operational headquarters, where intelligence officers from the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Morocco, Jordan, Israel, France and Great Britain would coordinate the course of proxy operations in Syria. Washington has gone as far as to dispatch 6 special reconnaissance satellites for those officers to observe the entire territory of Syria 24 hours a day non-stop. […]

    The former Prime Minister of Qatar announced that a total of 137 billion dollars was wasted on the attempts to topple Assad’s government since the beginning of the war, while some of these funds were stolen by various field commanders that became millionaires overnight. In addition, considerable resources were wasted on the attempts to bribe Syria’s military brass, in attempt to persuade them in betraying their country or desert their positions. On average, a Syrian officer would receive from 15 to 30 thousand dollars for betraying his country.

    According to Hamad Bin Jassim, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri played a major role in fomenting the Syrian conflict with an extensive support of a number of pro-Saudi Lebanese officials. In addition, the former Qatari Prime Minister mentioned the role that Iraqi Kurds played in the formenting of the so-called Syrian “civil war”, especially Massoud Barzani. At the conclusion of the interview, he announced that his government played a big role in the destruction of Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, while acting on Washington’s behalf.”

    • Sam F
      November 19, 2017 at 10:06

      This is a major revelation if it proves true. The article speaks of “the reluctance of international agencies to open an international investigation of all the circumstances of the overthrow of legitimate governments…of Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, while acting on Washington’s behalf.”

      • backwardsevolution
        November 19, 2017 at 13:18

        Sam F – it’s quite the piece. The fellow who posted the link said about Hamad Bin Jassim:

        “I did a Google News search for this man and there was not a single publication repeating the incandescent contents of this interview. Not one. The most recent article that mentioned him was all about the vast property investments that he makes.”

        I doubt the interview will be picked up and commented on by the likes of the New York Times, Washington Post or the rest of the media liars. Spread it far and wide.

    • Seer
      November 19, 2017 at 16:09

      One would think that if Russia (and Iranian) support was able to forestall such a force as this then it would appear that any further aggressions by the West are sure to fail.

      All makes sense in that Qatar was turned on because it started to get cold feet over supporting these actions. Have to wonder how much knowledge of this all those folks rounded up by the Saudis have.

      The race is on to let the skeletons out of the closet. Would be a good time for some added skeletons to be released by WikiLeaks.

  9. November 19, 2017 at 08:01

    A masterful disclosure of how naive Americans are easily manipulated by by foreign agents into pursuing activities which, time and again, prove ro be harmful to the American people with single citizenship.

  10. David Davidian
    November 19, 2017 at 06:44

    My comment is not intended to minimize or justify the acts of various spy and intelligence organizations, but rather to shed light on issues brought out in this article. I do want to draw the reader’s attention to a November 2009 article in Spiegel: where some of the interactions between individuals and organizations noted by Gareth Porter are mentioned in additional detail. The Speigel article it is not being used to negate Gareth Porter’s thesis.

    In issues where cause and effect are not well defined or where background technological knowledge is lacking, we generate hypotheses that explain events and come up with the most likely explanation. I too was a nuclear engineer and worked in the nuclear industry for a short period. While this does not make me the authority on this topic, I do understand the technology. I want to offer some alternative explanations for what was observed and reported by Mr. Porter, especially on the technical side. This list is not exhaustive:

    (1) The hundreds of photos may have come from a Syrian official’s laptop. During a trip to England in late 2006, access was available to his laptop while in a hotel room, allowing Israeli agents to place malware in it, eventually revealing the inner workings of the purported nuclear facility. Was access to the Syrian laptop intentional (counterintelligence) or just due to a careless official?

    (2) The issue of dirty water (or water at all) from the Euphrates contacting magnox is not an issue. Direct water (versus cooling towers) cooled reactors have screens on the water intake that use river or ocean water for cooling with a simple classic condenser with CO2 (or any gas) on one side and cooling water on the other. Gas-Cooled Magnox plants operate like this.

    (3) The shape of the building that doesn’t coincide with the Yongbyon facilities would be the first change I would make to the design so as not to give it away.

    (4) The facility appears to lack a spent fuel pool. Well first, there is no technical reason why the spent fuel pool needs to be above ground. It could be buried and be fully functional considering that the reactor would also be underground, and besides, the transport of spent fuel is made underwater as well. Second, there may not be an immediate need for functioning spent fuel pool (although it can’t be designed-in as an afterthought) as the reactor hadn’t even been started up. In commercial reactors, the fuel cycle is about 2-3 years, in submarines perhaps a year. In fact, it would be better if the pool were not above ground. In the Syrian desert airborne contaminants (that would be irradiated causing additional radioactive problems) would be much more difficult to filter out with the pool above ground.

    (5) Not only would high-quality graphite (carbon) be all over the place, but U238 as well. Interestingly, depleted uranium bullets are almost entirely U238 (as it natural uranium, that a GCGM reactor uses), an interesting coincidence. However, such bullet fragments would not have the high-quality graphite associated with graphite-moderated reactors, unless the bullets or other bomb fragments were specifically impregnated with such material – that is, planted evidence. There would be evidence of U238 even though the Syrians reportedly covered the place in concrete. Concrete will absorb most all of U238’s main decay product, alpha particles (helium nuclei). Evidence of helium would certainly point to substantial amounts of U238 in the vicinity.

    (6) There could be alternative reasons why a photoshopped truck image was presented to the CIA from Mossad. Technology exists to determine if an image has been intentionally photoshopped. So why make it so obvious when there are methods of image enhancement that are nearly impossible to detect? Perhaps the truck itself was a Mossad plant and the Israelis didn’t want to give out intelligence gathering techniques and a simple photoshop session would take care of such a problem.

    For all we know, the Kibar facility bombing could have been a synthesized cover or manufactured political enhancement for the assassination of high ranking Syrian and Iranian experts Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman, Imad Mughniyah, respectively, and probably others we don’t know. The Syrians claim Kibar was way station for missiles, which has always been a reason by itself for Israeli action.

    Yerevan, Armenia

    • David Davidian
      November 21, 2017 at 02:39

      Part I of my comment was never posted by Consortium New.

      • David Davidian
        November 21, 2017 at 03:10

        The effort to post a normal comment ended up being a test, in that, certain words or concepts are not allowed in reader commentaries by Consortium News. What is also unfortunate is that after having contacted Consortium News two days ago asking why none of my comment was posted, there has still been no response. I subsequently assumed there may be a word limit and cut my comment into two smaller ones. Part I of this comment was tweeted to Consortium News Robert Parry’s twitter feed and it too is gone. However, I just tweeted an image of Part I on my twitter feed, @dbdavidian. As you can see, there is nothing nefarious. This discovery is very disappointing.

        Have nice day!

    • David Davidian
      November 21, 2017 at 07:33

      It would be interesting to know what happened to David Davidian’s full comment dated two days ago that magically just saw the light of day today! I indeed wished to add positively to the discussion. Maybe next time.

  11. incontinent reader
    November 19, 2017 at 03:00

    Another implication of the article is that, given a legitimate attempt to negotiate with the North Koreans was sabotaged by the US Special Services and not by North Korean malfeasance, we should have been, and should be using diplomacy to re-engage with the DPRK.

  12. Hide BehindhBehindhere have been wake up calls but they were ignored.
    November 18, 2017 at 23:51

    NOV 12 2012 US Army Corp of Engineers Army Aquisition Web site, Bids for materials for 5 levels of 127,000 sq foot for 4 below groumd with smaller 5th floor.
    MC Clatchy Washington Bureau same Army Aquisition Web site contract for South of Tel Aviv Between Jerusalem and Asod. Same place as paragraph above. 25 million $ project for middle protectors Arrow B.
    These news sources are slow as by time they get it out to public firms are writing of their successful bids in trade publications and placing sub contractor BIDDING ads.
    Virginia news papers report on all the State Department Security firms bid process as do the firms who place ads for specialized employees.
    Wake up you F’n deniers for pictures are on internet through alternative media sites.
    He’ll before US invaded Iraq the Contractor in Wa. State was bragging in local news of securing contract for building Iraqand Kuwait ports used during invasion.
    Also same means we used to find out the contract for building IRAQ Green Zone which was before US entered Bhagdad.

    • Abe
      November 19, 2017 at 02:22

      Conventional Hasbara (overtly pro-Israel) propaganda troll “Hide Behind” projectile vomits “OFUSCATE [sic]” in all caps.

      Hilarity ensues.

      • zendeviant
        November 19, 2017 at 06:51

        Nice work on the hasbara troll, Abe! He degenerated from sophisticated lies to incoherent shouting. Not to mention his abandoning of proofreading in his frenzy.

        “By way of deception, we shall make war!” Ominous: until one realizes they’d rather contract out the dirty business. When the world runs out of greedy mercs, Israel will become quite contrite. Which probably means never.

        I gave up on wondering whether I was liberal or conservative. Now, I am in angst over whether I am an optimist or a pessimist.


    • Sam F
      November 19, 2017 at 09:14

      Just state that calmly with evidence and argument, and the information will be interesting.
      I searched on Google for “Site 911” and found the WaPo and other 2012 articles.

      “Site 911 is the latest in a long history of military construction projects the United States has undertaken for the IDF … about $500 million in U.S. construction of military facilities for the Israelis, most of them … in the West Bank …three bases were built to support 20,000 troops…creating Nevatim air base. A new runway… about 100 new buildings and 10 miles of roads… underground hangars for Israeli fighter-bombers, facilities for command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications. “

      The WaPo article says that they removed references to nuclear weapons there; perhaps zionist revisionism.

    • Abe
      November 19, 2017 at 12:54

      Hasbara troll “Hide Behind” and the Washington Post “OFUSCATE [sic]” about “Site 911”.

      WaPo obfuscation is de rigeur for US media reporting of facts concerning Israel.

      What “Hide Behind” demonstrates is the Hasbara propaganda inversion method, the rhetorical flip from Conventional Hasbara (overtly pro-Israel) propaganda to Inverted Hasbara (false flag “anti-Israel’) propaganda:

      First “Hide Behind” spews Conventional Hasbara disinformation about United Nations Security Council Resolution 487 criticizing Israel for the attack on the Iraqi nuclear facility.

      Then “Hide Beyond” flips into Inverted Hasbara, loudly projectile vomiting in all caps about “SITE 911 [sic]”.

      In the hilarity department, “Hide Behind” does not disappoint.

  13. Zachary Smith
    November 18, 2017 at 23:31

    Senior officials of the Bush administration didn’t buy the Israeli bid to get the United States do the bombing, but none of them ever raised questions about the Israeli ruse.

    Tinfoil hat time: I’d wager those “senior officials” knew that either Obama or Hillary were on their way to the White House, and that would result in another way to do an even more thorough destruction of Syria. Besides, the memories of the invented WMDs in Iraq were still fresh in the memory of many citizens, and acting on an obvious Israeli lie was too darned risky.

  14. Gary Corseri
    November 18, 2017 at 22:17

    If there are any doubts about the multiple duplicities of our “Deep State” and theirs (i.e., Israel’s, Syria’s, etc.), Gareth Porter’s masterful detective work here should dispel the web of illusions and delusions under which our “masses” labor, sweat and die. Here was the first “show-stopper” for me:

    Then CIA chief, Michael “Hayden recalls that his decision to release the video on the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in April 2008 was ‘to avoid a North Korean nuclear deal being sold to a Congress and a public ignorant of this very pertinent and very recent episode.’”

    In other words, the Almighty CIA determined that the “ignorant” US public and Congress should not be sold one bill of goods–“a North Korean nuclear deal”–so they must be sold another bill of goods to ensure compliance with the hidden designs of the Bush Administration and Israeli hawks like Ehud Olmert. Be prepared, furthermore, to “sell” Congress and public “inquiring minds that want to know” doctored photos to prove legitimacy of exorbitant and ridiculous claims to justify illegal bombings (and killings), etc. Thwart any attempts by the one apparent “peacenik” in the Bush Administration–Condoleeza Rice–and continue to paint North Korea as a global menace, incriminate Syria and Iran for daring to consider any kind of allied resistance, and keep the war bonds flowing into the US treasury!

    Porter reconstructs the machinations of the political systems and also the complicity of a hijacked “scientific community” whose best minds protest the absurdities…but are silenced by less sturdy minds or outright sell-outs.

    He caps his piece by showing how, in our spy-vs-spy-vs spy world, our indefatigable CIA can be easily hoodwinked and maneuvered by a much less lavishly financed espionage agency in Syria itself! We get hoisted in our own petard! A warning to our gullible media and masses: Caveat Emptor!

  15. lexy677
    November 18, 2017 at 22:00

    The CIA has been thoroughly infiltrated by Mossad since the 1960s. The CIA is American in name only. It works primarily for Israel. There’s nothing anyone can do about it.

    • Sam F
      November 19, 2017 at 08:52

      That would be an interesting contention if it can be supported by evidence and argument. But then why was it necessary for zionist DefSec Wolfowitz to install the known-zionist agents Perle, Wurmser, and Feith at CIA. DIA, and NSA to “stovepipe” known-false “intelligence” to Cheney to fake up a rationale for Iraq War II? The Mossad infiltration must be limited.

  16. Abe
    November 18, 2017 at 20:04

    Israeli deception regarding Iran has been extensive. For example, as Gareth Porter reported in 2011:

    “Israel has made no secret of its determination to influence world opinion on the Iranian nuclear programme by disseminating information to governments and news media, including purported Iran government documents. Israeli foreign ministry and intelligence officials told journalists […] about the special unit of Mossad dedicated to that task at the very time the fraudulent documents were being produced.”

  17. Abe
    November 18, 2017 at 19:48

    In The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007), American political scientists John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt observe that when the pro-Israel Lobby succeeds in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East, then “Israel’s enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding, and paying.”

    In March 2006, Mearsheimer and Walt first published an article entitled “The Israel Lobby” in the London Review of Books that ignited a storm of controversy. They described how the pro-Israel Lobby has manipulated US foreign policy to benefit the state of Israel at the expense of the United States own national interests.

    They argue that the pro-Israel Lobby has “significant leverage over the Executive branch”, as well as the ability to make sure that the pro-Israel Lobby’s “perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media.”

    They note the pro-Israel Lobby “stranglehold on the U.S. Congress”, due to its “ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it.”

    Mearsheimer and Walt decry what they call misuse of “the charge of anti-Semitism”, and argue that pro-Israel groups place great importance on “controlling debate” in American academia; they maintain, however, that the pro-Israel Lobby has yet to succeed in its “campaign to eliminate criticism of Israel from college campuses”.

    Mearsheimer notes that “it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the argument in a convincing way that anyone who criticizes the lobby or Israel is an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew.”

  18. Abe
    November 18, 2017 at 18:55

    In a 19 October 2005 public conversation sponsored by The Nation Institute, former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter discussed how the CIA manipulated and sabotaged the work of UN departments to achieve a hidden foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.

    Ritter highlighted “the nexus between the neoconservatives in Washington, D.C., and the right wing of the Likud Party in Israel” to get American politicians to adopt an aggressive posture toward Iran:

    “Israel now complicates America’s overall policy posture vis-à-vis the Middle East, because now it becomes very difficult to treat the Palestinian situation in isolation. It becomes very difficult to treat the Hezbollah situation in isolation or to treat Iran in isolation. Israel has lumped it all together, because they know how to play the American political game, I think, better than we know how to play the American political game. So this is about domestic politics trumping intelligence and sound analytical processes.”

    Deceptive pro-Israel Lobby influence and Israeli interference in US politics and foreign policy expanded during the administration of George W. Bush, and continued under Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

    Ritter is the author of Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change (2007) and the upcoming Deal of the Century: How the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Was Won, Then Lost, and the Possible Consequences (2018).

  19. Hide BehindhBehindhere have been wake up calls but they were ignored.
    November 18, 2017 at 18:18

    One must remember that Israel had bombed an Iraq nuclear power plant before its construction was completed, and the U.N. and Euro/US said noting.
    There was no illegality in either Syria or Iraq about building nuclear producing plants.
    The IAEA is an immensely profitable organization, but is also under far more powerfull Nations political and military organizations.
    Heck even Scott Ritter admitted that he was working for both the Israeli MOSSAD and CIA when he was under U.N. arms control Inspector between Iraq war I and Iraq II.
    Israel and US now have Joint Military Control upon US taxpayer funded Base on Israeli land.
    US also played for an huge underground nuke proof facility in Israeli desert.
    One many stories deep and holds huge tonnage of Israeli and US armaments.
    It is large enough to hold tens of thousands of people with food etc for long period of ti.e.
    US and Euro Construction that was protected by civilian security forces, and no Muslims allowed to work there.
    Israel is ready fora nuclear confrontation.
    They also would have no qualms of using their NUKES if they feel threatened.
    Is this article really news, how many years ago, and the pattern of experts lo those many years after stepping forward?

    • David G
      November 18, 2017 at 18:35

      It is not accurate to say that the U.S., Europe, and the U.N. said nothing about Israel’s destruction of the Iraqi reactor. There was a unanimous Security Council resolution condemning it. But it is true that, at least on the part of the U.S., the diplomatic fallout was pretty much pro forma.

      • Hide BehindhBehindhere have been wake up calls but they were ignored.
        November 18, 2017 at 19:47

        US did not vote to condemn Iraeli attack upon IRAQ.
        They did hold back any military retalitory reaction by Iraq.
        Iraq’s reward was huge influx of military and infrastructure, cultural exchange programs and , trade concessions aid..

        • David G
          November 18, 2017 at 20:49


          U.N. Security Council resolution 487, condemning the Israeli attack on the IAEA-approved Iraqi nuclear site passed with 15 votes in favor, zero against, zero abstaining.

          Again, I’m not exaggerating its importance, but facts are facts.

          • Broompilot
            November 18, 2017 at 22:11

            Amen DG. Facts is facts.

          • Piotr Berman
            November 19, 2017 at 14:29

            Amazingly, it is hard to imagine it today. The regress in American (and Western in general?) foreign policy creepingly advances further and further. Starving 20 million people “remains our concern”, to cite a recent press conference of DoS. Cry, laugh?

    • November 18, 2017 at 21:11

      Talk of giant nuke-proof shelters in the desert seems, well, unrealistic. The Mideast is a remarkably cozy place. In terms of airstrikes, it’s like Providence, RI declaring war on the Bronx (roughly the same flying distance as Damascus to Tel Aviv). In other words, we are talking minutes from launch to target. Think of the logistics.

    • Abe
      November 18, 2017 at 21:37

      Comrade “Hide Behind” is a Conventional Hasbara (overtly pro-Israel) propaganda troll deliberately spewing disinformation.

      United Nations Security Council Resolution 487 was adopted unanimously on 19 June 1981 following 10 Security Council meetings about the Israeli attack and Israel’s nuclear weapons policy.

      The resolution strongly condemned the military attack by Israel as a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct.

      The UN Security Council called the Israeli attack “a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime which is the foundation of the non-proliferation Treaty”.

      Resolution 487 specifically called for Israel to put its own facilities under the safeguards of the IAEA.

      Iraq was a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) since it came into force in 1970. In accordance with the NPT, Iraq accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear activities, and that the Agency testified that these safeguards had been satisfactorily applied.

      Israel has refused to sign the NPT.

      Extensive details of Israel’s nuclear weapons program came in October 5, 1986, with news coverage of information provided by Mordechai Vanunu, a technician formerly employed at the Negev Nuclear Research Center. Vanunu was later kidnapped by the Mossad and brought back to Israel, where he was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

      Current estimates put the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal at between 80 and 300 nuclear warheads. Israel can deliver nuclear weapons via aircraft, submarine-launched cruise missiles, and the Jericho series of intermediate to intercontinental range ballistic missiles.

      In addition to its refusal to accept IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities, Israel maintains an offensive arsenal of nuclear weapons, as well a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.

      In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution[242] calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East. Arab nations and annual conferences of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) repeatedly have called for application of IAEA safeguards and the creation of a nuclear-free Middle East.

      Arab nations have accused the United States of practicing a double standard in criticizing Iran’s nuclear program while ignoring Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. According to a statement by the Arab League, Arab states will withdraw from the NPT if Israel acknowledges having nuclear weapons but refuses to open its facilities to international inspection and destroy its arsenal.

      In a statement to the May 2009 preparatory meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the US delegation reiterated the longstanding US support for “universal adherence to the NPT”, but uncharacteristically named Israel among the four countries that have not done so. An unnamed Israeli official dismissed the suggestion that it would join the NPT.

      There is secret agreement between the US and Israel to shield Israel’s nuclear weapons program from international scrutiny. By not stating that Israel has atomic weapons, the US avoids having to sanction the country for violating American non-proliferation law.

    • Seer
      November 18, 2017 at 22:28

      IAEA doesn’t wield weapons. They are not the enforcers. They can complain (refer to David G’s comments) all they want, but, really, if they don’t like what the US is going to do there’s nothing that’s going to happen. But, the IAEA is mostly under control by the West: there’s a funding connection to be concerned with. Just like other intelligence agencies, if the facts don’t work for a given policy then they’re tossed overboard. After what happened with Ritter it should be clear what additional tossing takes places. And then you get someone like Yukiya Amano, who will readily get bent over when policy requires it.

  20. November 18, 2017 at 18:18

    The US has no use for the truth, it would interfere with their plans for more war.

    • Annie
      November 18, 2017 at 18:43

      But, you need a population willing to go along, and you do that through the use of propaganda. Remember Bush and his weapons of mass destruction, and if we don’t heed the call for overthrowing Saddam’s regime we’re in for a mushroom cloud?

      • Danny Weil
        November 18, 2017 at 21:56

        Indeed and this all goes back to Bernays and the selling of the American mind.

        But let’s face i: he overwhelming preponderance of people haven’t freely decided what to believe or think, but rather have been socially conditioned (indoctrinated) into their belief systems by a culture devoid of reasoning, where ideas and thought are commodified and thinking itself is subversive. They are un-reflective thinkers; their minds are products of social and personal forces they neither understand nor control, nor concern themselves with. Their personal beliefs are often based on prejudices they have no idea they harbor, beliefs of which they have no idea of their origins. Their thinking is largely comprised of conscious or unconscious fallacies, stereotypes, caricatures, over-simplifications, over-generalizations, necessary illusions, delusions, rationalizations, false dilemmas, and begged questions.

        Their motivations are often traceable to irrational fear, discontent with their material and psychological conditions and attachments, personal vanity and envy, intellectual arrogance, indoctrination and feeble-mindedness. These mental constructs then become debauched mental habits, part of their identity and they circle the wagons around this uncritical individuality, protecting it at any cost. Their arrogance has cost them their humility and they are unable to purchase or learn or profit from any other points of view.

        Such persons are focused on what immediately affects them; they are short term thinkers whose idea of short term is promulgated by a culture of morbidity and a historically amnesiac cycle of despair. They see the world through ethnocentric and nationalistic eyes. They stereotype people from other cultures, races, gender and then believe themselves superior.

        For the uncritical thinkers, Machiavellianism is the personification of ‘the art of mental trickery and manipulation’ and benefits no one but the select few who utilize and profit off it as a technique. It is the Orwellian organization of the human mind with consequent material benefits for those doing the orchestrating and controlling.

        • Seer
          November 18, 2017 at 22:09

          But, other than that they’re pretty good people, right? Ha ha!

          Great stream of consciousness there!

          I’d only add that some might fully understand (what even folks like us who are applying lots of energy toward critical thinking understand) that there’s little that can be done to stop the runaway train. My underlying premise for seeing it as such is that: 1) Our economic system, which permeates EVERYTHING, is based on a HUGE fallacy- perpetual growth on a finite planet (yes, people, you’ll get tired of hearing it, but it IS the fundamental issue when you get around to stripping everything down to the core); and 2) Our planet’s glacial cycles are not preventable- we’re at the later stages of an inter-glacial period, the next glacial period is a click away (no amount of environmental action is going to stop it, and it is, I suspect, this reason why the climate-change deniers deny [really, like they’d come out and say that we’re screwed? that’s the real outcome, so, for them, and no matter, for all of us, we will keep doing what we do until it all stops- we kill ourselves or the planet does it]).

          • Sam F
            November 19, 2017 at 08:40

            Interesting that you see growth as a necessity in our economy, although I see primarily growth of individual businesses at the expense of others, and reduction rather than growth of exports. While any business would prefer growth, circulation of currency does not require it. Any numerical growth appears to be merely inflation, or the gradual increase of productivity.

            Also interesting to focus on the glacial cycle rather than the warming issues. Both are very slow processes; if we could save fossil fuels to fight the next glaciation we might win. But no doubt we will see much warming in the next few centuries, while the next glaciation may take millennia.

          • Piotr Berman
            November 19, 2017 at 14:24

            I would change your statement a little bit. “Normal people” do not care too much if the economic growth can continue “forever”, or if it is needed. Instead, they live in an environment saturated by messages aimed to convinced them to pay for goods and services for assorted reasons. Like buying beer to participate in funny stuff with attractive young women (apparently, beer is not for drinking), be it frolicking by a poolside, or gazing at rolling waves. Otherwise reasonable people seriously believed that SUVs make them safer (they were good for the occupants while smashing sedan cars, but mediocre when hitting other obstacles, and greatly facilitating roll-overs). Or they get convinced that the best home is one that they can barely afford — or one that they cannot afford at all, which led to 2008 crisis. Or that some obnoxious food is “delicious” etc. etc.

            Some of the best minds work on technologies aimed to convince people to buy unnecessary stuff (at times, ridiculously overpriced).

            On the optimistic side, by restricting ourself to useful items and necessary foods, we can survive “the next glacial period” or whatever consequences of global warming may be with stride. Hopefully, necessary knowledge can be restored in time.

          • Seer
            November 19, 2017 at 15:35

            Replying to my post because I cannot reply to the individual posts under it.

            Please note that when I make statements that unless I specifically state that they’re positions that I promote that I, myself, make them outside of any sense of promotion. That is, I see what is/will be more so than what I want them to be: if wishing were…

            Regarding my apparent insensitivities to “global warming,” I think folks need to understand geologic terms and history. Glacial and Inter-Glacial are the ONLY two major environmental, semi-static (time-lasting), states that have been identified by the scientific community (via very extensive research- LOTs of ice core sampling). While “global warming” WILL happen, it will be, and is extensively recorded as such, as a blip of time, a light switch being clicked on, as regards to geologic time. Anyone wanting to have an excellent view of how this all works I suggest reading The Survival of Civilization by John D. Hammaker): Hammak spent a lot of time fighting for action to forestall the impending climate shift; other than his “solution” (I agree in the premise, it’s the execution that really needs hard numbers put to it) the information/mechanics of the Big Picture are spot-on.

            For convenience:

            NOTE: Global warming alters the ocean current cycling, with then sets the stage for the entrance of the next glacial period. After reading Hammaker’s book one should have a better understanding of the natural mechanisms that do take place: if humans weren’t here the cycles would still happen; humans, of course, impact the time interval.

        • Annie
          November 19, 2017 at 04:26

          Norm Chomsky in his books, in his talks, says that in a dictatorship they can brow beat you into conformity to go along with the party line, so to speak. In a “democracy” compliance is instilled through propaganda. Even as a child, I realized the world wants me to think the way it does. I even wished that lies and truths had different colors, so I could tell them apart instead of thinking so hard about everything. Our culture on the one hand will say it stresses individuality, but what it demands is conformity. As a teacher I can tell you that our educational system puts more emphasis on memorizing facts more then it encourages people to think, especially outside the box. Religions also demand that you believe on faith alone, without any substantiating proof. I was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, so I could go my own way. There’s a myriad of forces that encourage people not to think very much at all. Therefore it doesn’t surprise me that people swallow whole what they are told. It also is a more comfortable model to adopt. It’s just the way it is. I have little faith that anything will change, anytime soon.In fact, it has only gotten worse. The more they screw up, propaganda gets worse. On Facebook they published an article, which I didn’t read, but the intro said they will do everything in their power that it is not used as a tool for propaganda by foreign nations to undermine our democracy, Which translates into more censorship, and further undermines individual thought which is what it is meant to do.

          • Sam F
            November 19, 2017 at 08:31

            Interesting attribution of conformity to memorization in education, and the tyranny of religious demands, to which we might add the tyranny of economic dependency in the workplace. As there is no broad public forum in our fake democracy, the mass media control the opinion demands and limitations, and thereby public opinion.

          • Seer
            November 19, 2017 at 15:54

            A poli-sci instructor that I had came up with the quote: “Freedom of speech is the freedom to say what everyone else is saying.”

            If you watch other species in the animal kingdom (humans ARE of that kingdom- we’re animals [not in a pejorative way]) you will note conformity. I have farm animals, I’m well aware of this. It’s really a fine line of walking the survival beam, whether that beam leads to extinction, or swerving off the beam and into perhaps one’s own extinction. As they say, there is safety in numbers (of course, “they” probably weren’t clairvoyant enough to see a future with drones and nukes).

  21. Seer
    November 18, 2017 at 17:34

    I think that people like being lied to. After I’d pointed out to some pro-war folks that a picture of some uniform patch (which was pro-war) was proven to be photo-shopped I received the response of: “So what?” Even IF people know they’re being lied to that doesn’t mean that they will discount it. Just like suicide bombers, there’s NO way to combat this behavior.

    • Annie
      November 18, 2017 at 18:15

      I’ve noticed people in general are more afraid then ever to voice anything which might appear to be construed as anti-American, even though it is quite acceptable to say anything that is anti-Trump. It’s different now then it was during the Bush years when the anti-war movement was visibly and vocally active. During the Obama years things went silent, because the movement in large part is allied with the democratic party. The propaganda machine that operates around the clock spews lies, and misconceptions and in general people are not aware they are being lied to. In large part they don’t read books, or go to sites like Consortium news, just the mainstream media.. Within the school system children are encouraged not to think for themselves, but simply to learn whatever they are taught, and to believe it to be true. People are inculturated not to think for themselves, and it starts early. I don’t think they like being lied to, they just don’t know it. Countries basically want to have a people with a singular mindset that accepts the status quo, because they’re easier to control, or that is how they are controlled.

      • Seer
        November 18, 2017 at 21:53

        That event I referred to occurred way back during the initial invasion of Afghanistan. I was heavily involved in the anti-war activities (yeah, NSA, CIA et al screw you!). It had nothing to do with people being afraid then. These folks were actually empowered to be championing war.

        And, let’s face it, lies rule the world we live in. Deception is the norm. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who understands that we are all operating on one huge lie: out economic system is founded in the belief that perpetual growth is possible (on a finite planet); failure to get everyone to buy into this false premise, of to miss it, would mean total collapse (so, we basically continue to roll with the lie because it’s the lie we know about).

    • November 18, 2017 at 20:45

      You’re right. To true believers, it’s a “So what.”

      …Of a piece with Alabama true believers and their take regarding credibly accused child molester Roy Moore. “So what?” Some people publicly declared they would vote for a child molester over a Democrat.

      …Of a piece with establishment Dems (and an embarrassing number of progressives) crying “Russia! Russia!” on ‘evidence’ that Robert Parry reveals is laughable. But so what? These charges can hurt the opposition! The end justifies the means. (Hmm… Where have I heard this before? Ah, yes. Germany, 1940s.)

      More broadly, it speaks to the entire Hillary Clinton / Jon Ossoff school of political engagement: move center-right to capture votes of Republicans disenchanted with Herr Trump. I hear this all the time. So what if it betrays progressive values? This is about winning.

      Less often do I hear editorialists admit Sanders got this part right: the surest path to victory lies in inspiring tens of millions of disgusted voters who sat out the whole sorry mess in November. (About 60 million people voted for Clinton, 60 million for Trump, and 95 million voting-eligible people did not cast a ballot.)

      Better to move right or move left? For strong circumstantial evidence, explore There, I tallied 150 major polls — no cherrypicking — that matched Sanders and Clinton, respectively, against GOP presidential contenders throughout the last three months of the 2016 primary season.

      Spoiler alert: Sanders outperformed Clinton 90 percent of the time.

      You’d think anyone seeking a winning electoral strategy would at least investigate this remarkable consistency. But no: establishment Dems dismiss such evidence. “So what? We must move center-right, period. If you disagree, you are being divisive and aiding the opposition.”

      So what? Intellectual honesty is what.

      Winning is what.

      • Seer
        November 18, 2017 at 22:00

        Kind of hard to stay sane, isn’t it?

        TPTB had a hand in suppressing Sanders. They couldn’t take the chance of him going up against Trump. Better, they figured, to have Trump, though they fully expected Clinton. Of course, Clinton got derailed because facts of all this came out, enough such that Bernie supporters were NOT going to sign up to accepting the charades (whether Sanders asked them to or not).

        The reason why the big risk with torpedoing Sanders’ campaign is that even IF TPTB could knock off/take out Sanders once in office they wouldn’t be able to steamroll all the folks what would have come into power with him. As can be seen with Trump, his cadre has been pretty much picked off and or suppressed (or co-opted). I highly doubt that this could have been so effectively done with personnel coming in with Sanders.

  22. David G
    November 18, 2017 at 17:30

    The tangential detail of the Syrians using this abandoned structure as a de facto decoy to divert the Israelis from actual missile sites is itself eye-opening.

    There was an interesting article in the NY Times (I know, “boo, hiss”) a while ago about the Russian military’s devotion to, and expertise in, the art of decoying (inflatable tanks and whatnot). The overall tone of the piece was snide and patronizing, of course, but it educated me about the power of this ancient art in modern conflict.

    I wonder whether the Syrians were just passive players here, or whether they orchestrated the attack in some way.

  23. Knomore
    November 18, 2017 at 17:20

    The bigger ruse is the one played on America when the Israeli Mossad helped to destroy the twin towers on 9/11. When are we going to wake up and realize that our so-called ally at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean is anything but? We have plenty of evidence starting with the USS Liberty that the Israelis shelled ruthlessly, murdering members of the crew, but failed in their ultimate aim which was to sink the ship. This was no thanks to the American government since LBJ recalled rescue efforts to save the ship. Surviving crew members were later told to keep quiet about it if they didn’t want to suffer more.

    Americans need to begin asking some very serious questions — especially now that traitorous Congressional members are entertaining treasonous ideas that the US Bill of Rights should stand down and extend even greater liberties to the evil Zionist presence in America. Penalties are suggested for anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic speech. Let me remind anyone who doesn’t know the history, the same was done in Russia when the Czar and his family were murdered — by Jews, it seems. And the penalty instituted there for so-called anti-Semitic speech was… Death.

    Wake up America! Your country is being stolen right out from under you! The story of the Dancing Israelis should be enough to point fingers in the right direction. Why do we insist upon this ongoing self-deception?

    And for any of you who post online and have noticed that your comments are immediately censored and then whisked away, never to be seen again, consider that the Israelis are finding that their weaponized name-calling (Anti-Semite) has become less effective. Might it be that they are now trolling the subterranean chambers of the internet the better to control (maybe obliterate is the better term) free speech in America?

  24. David G
    November 18, 2017 at 17:13

    It’s not the focus of this piece, but of course Bush Jr. did not in the end order (really we should say, “acquiesce to”) military action against Syria or Iran.

    There’s a rough parallel between Reagan and Bush Jr.: both Republicans who – although simpletons – learned, after being led by the nose by their war-crazed advisors into various calamities and near-misses at the beginning of their administrations, to be more circumspect thereafter.

  25. Jonathan Marshall
    November 18, 2017 at 17:11

    Gareth, how does your theory square with claims that inspectors discovered traces of uranium at the site?

    • Zachary Smith
      November 18, 2017 at 18:21

      Answering a question with another question – how difficult would it be for the attackers to “salt” their munitions with uranium. The Israelis could have even included traces of “enriched” uranium if that would have made for good “inspecting” later.

    • Sam F
      November 18, 2017 at 18:31

      Also possible that either the traces were falsely reported, or they were traces of conventional spent-uranium munitions, either in storage there or used by the Israeli planes..

    • Gareth Porter
      November 18, 2017 at 18:51

      That question will be fully explained in my follow-up piece on the IAEA and the Syria nuclear ruse. Watch this space!

      • Cloak And Dagger
        November 19, 2017 at 23:27

        Definitely looking forward to that story!

  26. David G
    November 18, 2017 at 17:02

    It’s a little disappointing that the IAEA didn’t make more of Abushady’s concerns at the time. ElBaradei was already on the outs with the Bush administration after not having played ball on Iraq, so one might have hoped he’d support his subordinate and colleague here in the cause of peace and truth.

    • Gareth Porter
      November 18, 2017 at 18:50

      I will address that whole IAEA side of the story in a follow-up piece to come very soon!

      • David G
        November 18, 2017 at 19:32

        Looking forward to it! Thanks again.

      • incontinent reader
        November 19, 2017 at 02:51

        Excellent investigative work. As for the IAEA side of the story, I’ve always felt Olli Heinonen was an imbedded shill, made as instructed by the U.S. i hope you could further examine his role.

  27. David G
    November 18, 2017 at 16:53

    Fascinating and deeply appreciated.

    I, for one, remember this air strike, and my skepticism of this really having been a nuclear reactor, as well as the release of the “evidence” a few months later that supposedly proved the case.

    That conclusion left a sour taste in my mouth, but until today I never could say exactly why.

    Kudos, Gareth Porter and CN!

    • g b
      November 19, 2017 at 03:18

      Right on Brother!

  28. Tom Welsh
    November 18, 2017 at 16:33

    The CIA are, and always have been, and probably always will be, a bunch of stinking psychopathic liars. So while a carefully detailed analysis like this is certainly useful, it is not really necessary.

    All you need to remember is, “If their lips move, they are lying”.

    • November 18, 2017 at 18:14
      • david
        November 18, 2017 at 22:47

        no mention of Jonestown in this article

    • Sam F
      November 18, 2017 at 18:27

      Of course it was Israel that assembled and altered the photos of unrelated origin to fool the CIA, a very hostile act against the CIA as well, leading them to discredit and wrongful acts. But by then zionist DefSec Wolfowitz had his known zionist agents Perle, Wurmser, and Feith installed at CIA, DIA and NSA to “stovepipe” known-false information to Cheney et al to fake up a public rationale for Iraq War II. See Bamford’s Pretext for War.

      • Seer
        November 19, 2017 at 15:10

        Might not be so much that the CIA was fooled but that it provided cover for the story their controllers were/are pushing. Plausible denial is the name of the game.

    • Piotr Berman
      November 19, 2017 at 13:40

      I would object for two reasons. CIA people professionally follow their mission, which is to operate outside the framework of laws written for “common people” to (a) collect information (b) produce disinformation (c) bloody stuff that should never see the light of day. Citizenry is mostly aware and supportive under the principle “do all that is necessary” to keep bad guys down (bad = we do not like them for some reason). People who do it may be loving husbands or wives, mow lawns and properly walk their dogs (taking care of the crap) etc. Or cheat, buy personal items using company credit card etc. like so many people “in all walks of life”. They fit in our social norms. Social norms (and mental health) are good only to some extend after all.

      More importantly, the only a minority shares your belief that CIA, State Department etc. lie systematically on a staggering scale. Most people think that “enough of that is true that bending the truth serves a good cause”. Reading good research changed my mind around the time the invasion of Iraq was looming and a careful reader of well researched articles could learn how brazen the official lies were.

      Lastly, why the unhinged propaganda of that time could work so well? Exactly on the principle “All you need to remember is…”. We need a different attitude, one that requires facts and research. Of course, past research fully justifies your claim that truthfulness of CIA is unlikely.

    • Kevin Talbot
      November 23, 2017 at 11:31

      This story proves that the CIA has been privatized to serve thelittle fiefdom in the desert. The Cocain Importation Agency’s sole mission statement is the Greater Israel Plan at the expense of the extracted Americans and their country.

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