Diplomats: No breakthrough at Syria atomic talks

Visit was disappointing, Syria refuses to provide access to sites, still claims Deir al-Zor was not nuclear reactor, Western diplomat says.

By REUTERS
October 29, 2011 11:27
1 minute read.
Suspect nuclear site in Syria.

Syrian nuclear site 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog has also been seeking information about other sites that may have been linked to Deir al-Zor.

Syria says Deir al-Zor was a non-nuclear military facility, but the IAEA concluded in May that it was "very likely" to have been a reactor that should have been declared.

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Diplomats said there was no real progress on this sticking point at the Damascus talks.

"It was a disappointing visit. Syria is still refusing to provide access to additional sites, still claims that Deir al-Zor was not a nuclear reactor," a Western diplomat said.

Another diplomat said that while Syria was sticking to its assertion that Deir al-Zor was a non-nuclear military site it had offered cooperation to back this up. There were no further details.

A third diplomat said the meeting "yielded nothing substantial," adding that Syria's crackdown on more than seven months of pro-democracy protests may be complicating decision-making in Damascus on nuclear issues.

The outcome of the meeting will be reported to the IAEA's 35-nation board, which next meets on Nov. 17-18.

In June, the IAEA Board of Governors voted to report Syria to the UN Security Council, rebuking it for failing to cooperate with the agency's efforts to get concrete information on Deir al-Zor and other sites. Russia and China opposed the referral, highlighting divisions among the major powers.


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