The International Atomic Energy Agency says it was. US intelligence says it was. The BBC, however, is apparently not convinced.
If you happened to be watching BBC television news coverage on the subject of a potential Western attack in Syria on August 28th you could hardly have failed to miss the repeated broadcast of an item by BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale which also appears on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “How would Syria respond to military action?“.
Beale opens his report:
“Military strikes against Syria have been carried out before. In 2007 in Operation Orchard, Israeli jets targeted a suspected nuclear facility in the north of the country – successfully as these satellite photos show – before and then after.” [emphasis added]
“The UN nuclear agency on Thursday said for the first time that a target destroyed by Israeli warplanes in the Syrian desert five years ago was a covertly built nuclear reactor, countering assertions by Syria that it had no atomic secrets to hide.
Previous reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency have suggested that the structure hit could have been a nuclear reactor. Thursday’s comments by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano were the first time the agency has said so unequivocally. […]
“The facility that was … destroyed by Israel was a nuclear reactor under construction,” he asked in response to a question from The Associated Press, repeating to the AP afterward: “It was a reactor under construction.” “
“It was constructed by the Syrians in the eastern desert of Syria along the Euphrates River on the east side. The Syrians constructed this reactor for the production of plutonium with the assistance of the North Koreans.”
The US administration at the time knew exactly what Al Kibar was even before the strike took place.
“The facts about al-Kibar were soon clear, and about those facts there was no debate: It was a nuclear reactor that was almost an exact copy of the Yongbyon reactor in North Korea, and North Koreans had been involved with Syria’s development of the site. Given its location and its lack of connection to any electrical grid, this reactor was part of a nuclear-weapons program rather than intended to produce electric power.”
By unnecessarily inserting the word ‘suspected’ when describing what the top authority on the subject says unequivocally was a nuclear facility Jonathan Beale is clearly both misleading BBC audiences and in breach of BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy.