The Washington Post early Friday posted a link to a CIA video at the heart of charges by the US government on Thursday that Syria was building a secret nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea, and that the facility was not intended for peaceful purposes.
The 11-minute video shows scenes from the construction of a purported gas-cooled graphite-moderated reactor at al-Kibar in an isolated desert region in eastern Syria. It also shows one still picture of an official from North Korea's nuclear programme meeting with the head of Syria's nuclear energy programme in Syria, dpa reported.
It is not clear where the photo was taken.
In addition, the video - really, a collection of still photos - shows the al-Kibar facility after Israeli warplanes partially destroyed it on September 6, and a purported controlled demolition explosion carried out by Syria on October 10, 2007, to remove remaining evidence of the project.
The White House charged Thursday that Syria had broken international agreements by hiding the reactor from the UN nuclear watchdog, known as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquartered in Vienna, and had sought to cover up the plutonium- producing facility.
"We are convinced, based on a variety of information, that North Korea assisted Syria's covert nuclear activities," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
US intelligence officials briefed members of Congress on the evidence Thursday, the first time the Bush administration has publicly revealed its suspicions about the site.
In the video, the CIA said that the al-Kibar plant was not equipped for electricity production nor designed for experiments, leading to the conclusion that its only purpose was to produce plutonium, which can be converted to weapons-grade fuel.
But the Washington Post, in a separate story Friday, quoted unnamed intelligence officials as saying they had only "low confidence" that al-Kibar was part of a Syrian nuclear weapons programme because there was no evidence of a complementary reprocessing plant for the plutonium.
The reactor, which did not yet contain nuclear fuel when it was destroyed by the Israelis in September, appeared to be "nearly operational" by August 2007, when construction activity ceased. Building had begun in 2001, the CIA said.
After the bombing by Israel, Syria removed some equipment from the destroyed site, carried out the explosion in October, covered the site with earth and erected a light metal structure over it to prevent views being snapped by satellite cameras, the CIA said.
After the Syrians finished destroying the plant, a pipeline which carried water from the Euphrates River to the remote nuclear plant was redirected and connected to a water treatment facility to further throw off nuclear inspectors, the CIA charged.
The plant was similar to the one built by North Korea at Yongbyon, which is being disabled under the six-party agreements with North Korea to end nuclear proliferation.
"Only North Korea has built this type of reactor in the past 35 years," the CIA said.
The Bush administration wants North Korea to acknowledge US concerns about the Syria connection in a declaration Pyongyang must produce under the agreement detailing all of its nuclear activities.
The Syrian ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, told CNN late Thursday that the al-Kibar building contained nothing of interest when it was bombed. He questioned the veracity of US intelligence following the false claims that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction.