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CIA Director Hayden Announces Findings on Covert Syrian Reactor

Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General Mike Hayden Announcing Findings on Covert Syrian Reactor

April 24, 2008

At our town hall meeting in January, I praised the outstanding work of our officers in tackling a very sensitive counterproliferation issue, one that I could not identify at the time because it was highly compartmented. As of today, some aspects have been declassified and will be publicly released this afternoon, so I can share with you the highlights of this extraordinary story.

Last spring, we acquired information confirming that a building in eastern Syria was a covert nuclear reactor using North Korean technology. We had suspected the two nations were cooperating on nuclear technology as early as 2001, and although imagery had revealed the existence of the building, it lacked features associated with a nuclear installation.The new information included photographs of the interior and exterior that offered our first unambiguous indication that the building was a nuclear reactor. Moreover, the reactor would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, was not configured to produce electricity, and was ill-suited for research.

On the morning of 6 September 2007, the reactor was destroyed as it was nearing completion, but before it had been operated or charged with uranium fuel. Syrian efforts to dismantle the ruined building and remove every trace of the incriminating equipment—largely conducted at night or under tarpaulins for concealment—further underscored Damascus’s less than benign intent for the facility. A video presentation summarizes our analysis of the Syrian reactor project and North Korean involvement in greater detail.

Our team effort on the Al Kibar reactor is a case study in rigorous analytic tradecraft, skillful human and technical collection, and close collaboration with our Community colleagues and liaison partners. Our officers put in long hours on this issue for many months, and their hard work paid off by directly advancing our nation’s security and that of our allies. To everyone who contributed to this success, my congratulations on a job well done.


Mike Hayden



Historical Document
Posted: Apr 25, 2008 09:01 AM
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2009 11:10 AM