This page is part of the Facilities Collection.
The current function and status of the Al-Kibar site is unknown. However, Syrian officials have asserted that Damascus constructed a missile facility at Al-Kibar after the original building’s destruction by the Israeli Air Force in 2007. 1 Experts widely believe that Syria had been building a nuclear reactor for the clandestine production of weapons-useable plutonium at the site, although the IAEA has been unable to conclusively determine this given Damascus’s refusal to permit the agency additional access to the site. 2 On 24 May 2011, the IAEA concluded that “the destroyed building was very likely a nuclear reactor,” based on the dimensions of the building seen in ground photographs and satellite imagery, the layout of the site and its water pumping facilities, the presence of nuclear materials found in environmental samples, and the inconsistencies with Syria’s stated function of the site. 3 [For additional details regarding the alleged reactor, see NTI Syria Nuclear Facilities, Al-Kibar]. Ibrahim Othman, Syria’s nuclear chief, has reportedly asserted that the new facility at Al-Kibar is a missile control facility or launching pad. 4
- Nuclear reactor
- Nuclear reactor: A vessel in which nuclear fission may be sustained and controlled in a chain nuclear reaction. The varieties are many, but all incorporate certain features, including: fissionable or fissile fuel; a moderating material (unless the reactor is operated on fast neutrons); a reflector to conserve escaping neutrons; provisions of removal of heat; measuring and controlling instruments; and protective devices.
- Plutonium (Pu)
- Plutonium (Pu): A transuranic element with atomic number 94, produced when uranium is irradiated in a reactor. It is used primarily in nuclear weapons and, along with uranium, in mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. Plutonium-239, a fissile isotope, is the most suitable isotope for use in nuclear weapons.
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- IAEA: Founded in 1957 and based in Vienna, Austria, the IAEA is an autonomous international organization in the United Nations system. The Agency’s mandate is the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, technical assistance in this area, and verification that nuclear materials and technology stay in peaceful use. Article III of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires non-nuclear weapon states party to the NPT to accept safeguards administered by the IAEA. The IAEA consists of three principal organs: the General Conference (of member states); the Board of Governors; and the Secretariat. For additional information, see the IAEA.
- “Syria puts missile center on reactor site,” AP, 25 February 2009.
- Ephraim Asculai, “Inspecting Syria’s Al-Kibar Reactor Site: A Technical Note,” Institute for Science and International Security, 12 May 2008, www.isis-online.org.
- IAEA, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Report by the Director General to the Board of Governors, GOV/2011/30, 24 May 2011, www.iaea.org.
- “Bombed Syrian reactor now missile base,” The Jerusalem Post, 25 February 2009.