Syrians Raze Site of Raid Launched by Israelis
New commercial satellite photos show that a Syrian site Israel bombed in September no longer bears any obvious traces of what analysts said appeared to have been a partly built nuclear reactor.
Two photos, taken Wednesday from space by rival companies, show the site near the Euphrates River to have been wiped clean since August, when imagery showed a tall square building there measuring about 150 feet on a side.
The Syrians reported an attack by Israel in early September, which the Israelis have not confirmed. Syrian officials continue to deny that a nuclear reactor was under construction, insisting that what Israel hit was a largely empty military warehouse.
But the images, federal and private analysts said Thursday, suggest that the Syrian authorities rushed to dismantle the facility after the strike, saying its removal could be interpreted as a tacit admission of guilt.
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that this week released a report on the Syrian site, said Thursday that the building’s removal was inherently suspicious.
Economy Grows 11.5 Percent in China
China said Thursday that its economy expanded at a powerful 11.5 percent pace in the third quarter, a slight slowing from the second quarter that might help Beijing officials control inflation.
But the overall pace of China’s economic development is still strong enough to keep pushing up prices around the world for a wide range of things like oil, iron ore and freight shipping.
Chinese officials welcomed Thursday’s growth figure. “The macroeconomic controls this time around have not only effectively prevented the economy from transitioning from speedy growth to overheating — by curbing too-rapid growth — but at the same time have not resulted in a sharp downturn, thereby preventing severe fluctuations in economic growth,” said Li Xiaochao, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics.
Chinese investors were more skeptical. They responded to the latest growth figures by sending the Shanghai stock market down 4.8 percent on Thursday, on fears that the central bank would continue to raise interest rates to limit inflation.
China’s growth rate in the third quarter, while a little less rapid than the 11.9 percent of the second quarter, keeps the country well ahead of its two leading rivals among high-growth Asian nations, India and Vietnam.