Whenever he gets to Israel, however, he consistently talks such nonsense, including often on the level of elementary fact checking, that it casts quite a doubt over everything else he says.
His response to the present story is typical.
We would have to know exactly what kind of reactor it was to know if it was suitable to help in a weapons program. [...] Even the high confidence that the building was a reactor cannot be just accepted without question. They had high confidence that Saddam had a nuclear weapons program in the early zeros, which was not true. We should be skeptical about these sorts of stories until we see the proof.Unlike Prof. Cole, I admit that I'm unable to recognize convincing or unconvincing facts about nuclear reactors even when they're thrust in front of my face, and I have no choice but to listen to intermediaries. I estimate that more than 99% of people are more like me than like him in this matter. Even the fact that experts were once wrong is not a reliable indication that they'll always be wrong.
I have been disappointed that more nuclear engineers in the US do not express themselves publicly on what is likely and unlikely.Neat, isn't it? The fact that apparently this time many experts are concurring, or at least remaining silent, proves nothing; it is merely a matter for chiding: why aren't they saying what the professor would like them to be saying?
This story seems to me fishy. Syria is a poor state. Where would it have gotten the money for a reactor? Why exactly are there doubts that North Korea was involved? How much of the intelligence is from US sources and how much from Israeli? The latter are highly politicized. The head of Mossad in 2002 expressed confidence that Saddam was close to getting nukes.Now he's down to whining. How could this be? Syria is poor! It doesn't fit my pet theories!? It's interesting, isn't it, that while Cole is up to his acrobatics to defend the Syrians, the Syrians themselves don't seem to be doing much denying, do they. Maybe because they know the facts.
Read the whole thing, if you want, or don't. I've linked to it mostly for future use.
Update: I was wrong about the Syrians not denying, of course. But it appears that the IAEA feel Syria does have a need to explain.