'Syria agrees to fully cooperate with IAEA'

Damascus reportedly gives in to western threats of UN Security Council action for continued failure to heed atomic watchdog.

May 29, 2011 21:36
1 minute read.
The Marj as Sultan site, Syria, July 25, 2008.

marj as sultan reactor syria_311. (photo credit: DigitalGlobe - ISIS)


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Syria has agreed to fully cooperate with the efforts of the UN's nuclear watchdog to investigate evidence that it built a reactor that could have been used to create nuclear weapons, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.

According to the report, Syrian nuclear officials sent a letter to IAEA chief Yukia Amano, who quoted the officials as saying "we are ready to fully cooperate with the agency."

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The readiness to cooperate with UN nuclear inspectors came after western states threatened to refer Syria to the UN Security Council for continuing to evade the IAEA.

In a report to member states last week, Amano assessed that a site in the Syrian desert bombed to rubble by Israel was "very likely" to have been a reactor that should have been declared to the IAEA.

Western diplomats said this meant that Syria had failed to meet its obligation to cooperate with the UN atomic watchdog -- which seeks to ensure that nuclear technology is not diverted for military purposes and that no sensitive work is hidden.

They said their approach to the Syrian nuclear issue was not linked to western condemnation of the Arab state's crackdown on pro-democracy unrest, stressing that Syria had stonewalled an IAEA probe for nearly three years and it was now time to act.

Since mid-2008, Syria has refused to allow UN nuclear inspectors to revisit the site known as Dair Alzour, which US intelligence reports said was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic bombs.

Syria says it was a military, non-nuclear complex before Israeli warplanes wrecked it in 2007. But that assertion was rejected in the IAEA's latest report on Syria, which cited satellite imagery, Syrian procurement efforts and analysis of samples gathered at a one-off inspector visit in 2008.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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