Okay, I mean this to be an honest question. The NYT has scary pictures up--courtesy of William Broad, who was glued to Judy's hip on Mobile Bioweapons Lab stories in summer 2003--showing that the purported nuclear reactor the Israelis took out in Syria has been razed to the ground.
That offers proof, the accompanying article states, that the Syrians were up to no good, and that the bombed site was a nuclear reactor.
A mysterious Syrian military facility that was reportedly the target of an attack by Israeli jets last month has been razed, according to a new satellite image that shows only a vacant lot in the place where Syria was recently constructing what some U.S. officials believe was a nuclear reactor.
The new photograph, taken by a commercial satellite yesterday, suggests that Syrian officials moved quickly to remove evidence of the project after it was damaged by Israeli bombs on Sept. 6, said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonprofit research group.
"They are clearly trying to hide the evidence," Albright said in an interview. "It is a trick that has been tried in the past and it hasn't worked."
Here's what I don't get. The site was bombed. By Israelis. If you have doubts about their ability to destroy things from the air, just ask the Lebanese. What these pictures show is a site that was razed. It doesn't show anyone doing the razing. It doesn't show the site just after it was bombed. All it shows is a site that was completely destroyed. It shows no evidence of how or who destroyed it.
So why do we believe a site that has clearly been destroyed, that we know to have been bombed, was destroyed after it was bombed?
Update: From Arms Control Wonk:
- The pictures showed a large building near a river. That’s about it. If the building was a reactor, it was very far from completion. Absent reliable human intelligence, I see nothing that conclusively demonstrates the building was a reactor although IAEA inspections would have been decisive on this point.
- Assuming it was a reactor, it is much too early to make design determinations based on imagery. Overhead identifications of reactors can, and are, often wrong as they were in the cases of Baotou — a fuel fabrication facility in China mistaken for a plutonium production reactor — and the gigantic North Korean whole in the ground that is Kumchang-ri. As I noted the other day, IC estimates of the size and type of the Yongbyon reactor, at a comparable stage, were incorrect.
- The people leaking are those dissatisfied with US policy. “A sharp debate is under way in the Bush administration,” Mazetti and Helen Cooper reported, about “whether intelligence that Israel presented months ago to the White House … was conclusive enough to justify military action by Israel and a possible rethinking of American policy toward the two nations.” Obviously, that rethinking hasn’t happened yet. The people who lost that debate are leaking national security information, appealing to the press. That is precisely why Hoekstra (R-MI) and Ros-Lehtinen called for more information — this is about North Korea, not Syria.