Tag Archives: nonproliferation

The Syrian ex-Nuclear Site

The following is a collection of images taken during (and after) the construction of the Syrian facility bombed by Israeli commandos on September 6, 2007. 

syrian_reactor_before_afterThe images at right show the central building of the Syrian site before and shortly after the Israeli strike. 

Just after this satellite image capture, the Syrians bulldozed the site, poured a concrete foundation over the ruins and constructed a new building on top of the original. Even so, they have been unwilling to allow soil samples to be taken by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). 


Here’s a wider view of the building and site which is less than 1 km from the Euphrates River; a location ideal for the cooling requirements of a reactor:



Here’s a view of the period after the mission, with the main reactor building flattened by bulldozers:



Here’s the main building under construction before an external sheath was installed to disguise the reactor’s key features:



Inside the building. Here we can see the rebar put in place for the pouring of the cement to create the facility’s central cooling tower:



The steel reactor liner with cooling tubes:



Top of the reactor prior to concrete being poured:



The innocuous looking exterior:



Another innocuous building; this one in Yongbyon, North Korea:



Head of the North Korean reactor fuel plant with the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission, in Syria:



New building going up at the site of the former Syrian nuclear reactor complex:



ISIS Report – October 23, 2007 (PDF – 1.2 MB)


Filed under Chicanery, Conflict, Images

DPRK: N-Test, Take X

The UN Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear firing test, which everyone seems to be assuming is their second such detonation, though that might not be the case.

The precise yield of the explosion is difficult to gauge for the following reasons: 

  1. Given the DPRK’s proficiency at digging shafts, tunnels and underground facilities, they may be successfully shielding and shaping their blasts in order to minimise their seismic signatures. If different device placement configurations are used for each test, this will help to confound those attempting to ‘profile’ the device in question — and, over a series, it will tell the North Koreans which configurations work best.
  2. The seismic waves generated by the most recent test are distinctly different from their first known test on October 9, 2006, which could mean that a different device type may have been employed this time, in which case, the previous data will be somewhat less useful in determining the energy output of the test at hand.
  3. Russian seismographs have been off-line for quite some time, limiting the number of high quality data points when interpreting the test’s meaning and ultimate implications. The Chinese ones have been running off-and-on for a good part of the past few months, which has proved less than helpful to seismic monitoring efforts focused on that part of the world. 

As compared to the first test, the blast barely registered a blip at China’s QIZ seismograph located at Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, which responded quite emphatically to the October 9th test. (See last story this topic.)

Russian sources estimate the test’s yield to be in the range of 10 to 20 kilotons — which are the same figures they proposed for the first test, which turned out only to have generated a blast force of less than one kiloton. It makes you wonder about the value of Russian contributions on these matters. 

I’m still digesting the news (and the data), but I’ll take a stab at guessing the yield on this newest test — which could be anything from the country’s second to tenth nuclear test.

Best guesstimate at this time: 5 – 10 kT.
Note: There is also a possibility that two tests could have been conducted in almost immediate sequence (about 15 minutes apart) — with the second test of the day yielding roughly double the energy of the first. In other words: two tests registering 5 kT and 10 kT, respectively. (I can’t find a quake to match up with that second, slightly larger, blip. Maybe you can.)


Did North Korea score a 2-for-1 deal once again?

Now, I guess we just wait to see what happens next.


Filed under Chicanery, Conflict, Images, Science