CIA says Syrian reactor capacity was 1-2 weapons per year

Other News Materials 29 April 2008 05:09 (UTC +04:00)

(reuters) - suspected Syrian reactor bombed by Israel had the capacity to produce enough nuclear material to fuel one to two weapons a year, CIA Director Michael Hayden said on Monday.

Hayden said the plutonium reactor was within weeks or months of completion when it was destroyed in an air strike last September 6, and within a year of entering operation it could have produced enough material for at least one weapon.

"In the course of a year after they got full up, they would have produced enough plutonium for one or two weapons," Hayden told reporters after a speech.

The reactor was of a "similar size and technology" to North Korea's Yongbyon reactor, Hayden said, disputing speculation it was smaller than the Korean facility.

"We would estimate that the production rate there would be about the same as Yongbyon, which is about enough plutoniu Hayden's comments were the first indication of the suspected reactor's capacity, and his first public remarks since the United States released photos of what it said was a secret nuclear reactor built with North Korean aid.

Syria has denied the U.S. charges and accused Washington of involvement in the air attack by Israel, which is believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.

m for one or two weapons per year," he said.