IAEA: Syria site had nuke reactor characteristics

Says Syrian 'agricultural center' contained traces of uranium; additional report says probe into Iran's program deadlocked.

Syrian reactor 224 (photo credit: Courtesy ISIS)
Syrian reactor 224
(photo credit: Courtesy ISIS)
A Syrian site bombed by Israel in September 2007 had the characteristics of a nuclear reactor, the UN nuclear watchdog agency said in a report it issued Wednesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency also said its probe into Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program is deadlocked. The two reports are being shared with the 35 nations on the IAEA board. The Iran report also goes to the UN Security Council. Syria denied the allegations that the site, located deep in the Syrian Desert, was an atomic reactor. The regime claimed that the complex destroyed by IAF warplanes was an agricultural research center. Several days ago the Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid Moallem said on television that traces of uranium found in the site originated with the IAF's bombs. On Monday, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates that the radioactive material's source was inconclusive. ElBaradei said greater cooperation from Syria and other nations was needed to determine whether the uranium traces at the site, bombed by Israeli jets last year, was from a nuclear reactor. US officials have said the facility was a nearly completed reactor that - when on line - could have produced plutonium, a pathway to nuclear arms. But the uranium used in manufacturing explosives and uranium enriched for nuclear purposes have a different radiation-footprint. On Iran, the agency noted that Teheran continues expanding its uranium enrichment program in defiance of three sets of Security Council sanctions. According to the IAEA report, Teheran plans to add 3,000 gas centrifuges to the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz in early 2009. There are currently 5,000 centrifuges at the facility, Army Radio reported.