'Syria evades IAEA request for access to nuclear site'

UN atomic agency rebuffed by Syrian FM, who promised cooperation in vague terms, but failed to offer access to site, diplomats say.

February 25, 2011 18:29
The Marj as Sultan site, Syria, July 25, 2008.

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

VIENNA—Syria has evaded a request from the head of the UN atomic agency for access to a suspected nuclear site, diplomats said Friday.

Israeli warplanes destroyed what the US says was a secretly built nuclear reactor in 2007. Syria allowed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit the site once, but has refused subsequent requests.

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IAEA chief Yukiya Amano had directly asked Syria's foreign minister in November to allow a new visit — in an unprecedented direct request. But a senior diplomat said Friday the foreign minister's response avoided mention of that site, promising only cooperation in vague terms.

Other diplomats said that amounts to a rejection of the request

The agency is attempting to probe both Syria and Iran. It is to release reports on both nations later Friday.

The diplomats spoke anonymously because their information was confidential.

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