US questions Russia's request for IAEA assessment on Syrian reactor

By REUTERS
September 9, 2013 15:35

VIENNA - The United States made clear on Monday it disagreed with a Russian request for the UN nuclear agency to analyze the possible risks involved if a Syrian reactor were to be hit during military strikes.

Russia said last week any US-led military action against Syria's government could have catastrophic effects if a research reactor near Damascus that contains radioactive uranium was struck, "by design or by chance".

Russia's Foreign Ministry called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to urgently assess the risk as the United States considers a punitive military strike in Syria over an alleged poison gas attack in its civil war.

In a statement to an IAEA board meeting on Monday, a senior US diplomat said: "It is our view that requests for comprehensive risk analyses of hypothetical scenarios are beyond the IAEA's statutory authority."

Moscow is the Syrian government's biggest ally and arms supplier. The United States supports rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.


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