For the past week or so, we’ve been discussing the Hasaka Spinning Factory — a textile factory in Syria that drew the interest of the IAEA (See: Hasaka Spinning Factory and Hasaka Spinning Factory Revisited).
Today, Desmond Butler and George Jahn at the Associated Press have published a very good story on the Hasaka Spinning Factory with one more piece of the puzzle.
The more I think about their story, the more I’d really like to use the toilet at the Hasaka Spinning Factory. Allow me to explain.
Butler and Jahn have the final piece of the puzzle — the answer to the question “What interested the IAEA in the site near Al Hasakah?” The facility layout is similar to documents for enrichment facilities found in Libya and Switzerland:
The investigator said the layout of the Al-Hasakah facility matches the plans used in Libya almost exactly, with a large building surrounded by three smaller workshops in the same configurations. Investigators were struck that even the parking lots had similarities, with a covered area to shield cars from the sun.
The story is sourced to “a senior diplomat with knowledge of IAEA investigations and a former U.N. investigator” — I’ll let you guess the identity of those two characters.
Last week I heard two different versions of the story — the Libya version and the Switzerland version. Both, it seems, are the case — Butler and Jahn point to both “plans for a uranium enrichment facility that were seized during a Swiss investigation related to Khan” and “[a]nother set of the same plans [that] was turned over to the IAEA after Libya abandoned its nuclear program.”
As far as I can tell, Libya intended to build such a facility, but never did. Site A in Libya (Al Hashan), where Libya initially installed its Khan-provided centrifuges, was, according to Doug Frantz and Catherine Collins, “in a nondescript, abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of Tripoli …” The centrifuges were later moved to Site B (Al Fallah) for storage.
Suddenly, however, this all makes sense. The most remarkable detail in David Albright’s Peddling Peril was that “The architectural plans for the layout of the centrifuge plant [provided by the Khan network to Libya] were so complete they contained instructions on where to install toilet paper holders in the bathrooms.” Albright cited “Interview with a senior official close to the IAEA, 28 February 2004.”
So, there you have it. They IAEA has very detailed architectural information on the building Libya intended to build right down to the ticket dispenser in the John Crapper. We are now told that the facility in Syria has many similarities. This is very interesting. It is also very funny.
The notion of a safeguards inspector, perched on the throne as it were, studying the placement of the toilet paper holder, is just priceless.
I can’t shake the idea of Herman Nackaerts, in some ridiculous costume, posing as a textile importer, sipping tea at the Hasaka Spinning Factory and then suddenly exclaiming in some sort of put-on accent: “Excuse me, I have to punish the porcelain.”
Ok, I actually thought of a lot funnier things for Nackaerts to say, but that’s the only one I am willing to publish.
All kidding aside, we really need to see the documents from Libya and Switzerland to see whether almost exactly to see what “almost” means. But at least now we understand the nature of the interest in the building.