VIENNA - The United States accused Syria on Friday of using the "brutal repression" of its people waging an uprising as an excuse not to address UN nuclear watchdog concerns about suspected past illicit nuclear activity in the Arab state.

For its part, Syria insisted at a debate of the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had agreed last year with the IAEA on how to handle the issue. This was denied on Monday by the IAEA chief in a speech to the board.

The IAEA has long sought access to a site in Syria's desert Deir al-Zor region that US intelligence reports say was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor designed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons before Israel bombed it in 2007.

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