'IAEA inspectors visit Dir a-Zur'

Syria Uranium left behi

IAEA inspectors have visited the suspected nuclear facility in the remote eastern Syrian city of Dir a-Zur and retrieved samples from the site in order to determine the source of uranium traces found at there, Qatari newspaper al-Watan reported on Monday. In November, it was reported that inspectors who visited the site - in ruins since 2007 - found traces of highly processed plutonium, indicating that Syria's nuclear program was further along than was previously assessed. The facility, named al-Kibar, was demolished in September 2007, allegedly by IAF fighter jets. Damascus has repeatedly denied claims that it was aiming to produce a nuclear weapon, adamantly insisting that Syria envisions a Middle East free of nuclear arms. According to the al-Watan report, it now claims the uranium found at al-Kibar was left there by Israel. Syria's leadership "assessed that the source of the uranium is tactical nuclear bombs dropped by Israel during its attack on the facility," Al-Watan quoted two Syrian sources as saying. "This is a clear example of international hypocrisy. After all, international bodies estimate that Israel possesses an arsenal of over 200 nuclear warheads," they said, expressing outrage over the lack of scrutiny of Israel's alleged nuclear facilities by the IAEA. A report by the nuclear watchdog, however, refuted the Syrian claims, stating that the uranium found in Dir a-Zur was a significant discovery. The sources further stated that Damascus "gave the delegation all the information it requested and answered all questions posed by its members." Al-Watan reported that the inspectors also visited a nuclear site near Damascus, which was built in cooperation with the IAEA.