IAEA meeting Director General Yukiya Amano 311 .
(photo credit: Herwig Prammer / Reuters)
VIENNA - The United States took renewed aim at Syria during an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting on Monday, expressing "strong reservations" about a technical cooperation project between the UN body and Damascus.
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Even though the move was not related to the crackdown on dissent in the Arab state, it was another sign that Damascus was facing growing international pressure and scrutiny. On Saturday, the Arab League suspended Syria from the group.
The project singled out by the United States concerned preparatory work for a planned nuclear power plant in Syria.
It is part of IAEA activities to help countries benefit from the peaceful uses of the atom - in areas ranging from energy to agriculture and health - but such assistance is at times sensitive as nuclear technology can also have military uses.
The IAEA's 35-nation governing board voted in June to report Syria to
the UN Security Council for covert atomic work, rebuking it for
stonewalling an agency investigation into the Deir al Zor complex bombed
by Israel in 2007.
US intelligence reports have said it was a nascent, North
Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic
weaponry before warplanes reduced it to rubble.
The IAEA gave independent backing to the US allegation in a report in
May which said it was "very likely" to have been a reactor. Syria
insists it was a non-nuclear military site.
At Monday's annual meeting of the IAEA's Technical Assistance and
Cooperation Committee (TACC), a senior US diplomat expressed concern
about a technical cooperation project in Syria, approved by the board in
"The United States has strong reservations over the continuation of
Syrian ... project SYR/0/020 conducting a technical feasibility study
and site selection for a nuclear power plant given Syria's failure to
cooperate with the IAEA," US diplomat Robert Wood told the meeting.
"In principle, it is our view that a state found in non-compliance with
their (IAEA) safeguards agreement should have certain TC projects
curtailed or suspended," Wood, deputy head of the US mission to the
He was addressing a closer-door meeting but his remarks were made available to media.
"We strongly urge the (IAEA) Secretariat to monitor the project closely and report to the board as appropriate," Wood said.
Earlier this year, Syria's Atomic Energy Commission said in a document
posted on the IAEA's website that it may build its first nuclear plant
by 2020 to meet growing energy demand.