Syria dismisses IAEA report of uranium traces

Damascus official to CNN: "I don't know how a building under construction could have uranium."

Buthaina Shaaban 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Buthaina Shaaban 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A Syrian official disputed on Tuesday that the UN nuclear agency's discovery of uranium traces at a bombed site was an indication that Syria was building a nuclear reactor. Buthaina Shaaban, an adviser to President Bashar Assad, also said in a CNN interview that Damascus had nothing to hide, and was waiting for the International Atomic Energy Agency to release a report on its investigation into Syria's purported nuclear activities. "They (Americans) said it is a building under construction," said Shaaban. "I don't know how a building under construction could have uranium." "I would rather say that we wait to see the (IAEA) report, and we would like the world to stand against aggression to which our country was subjected to." IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei had told reporters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Monday 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. Uranium can be found naturally in low concentrations and must be "enriched" before it can be used in either power plants or nuclear weapons. Highly enriched uranium is the type used in atomic bombs. Syria's foreign minister suggested last week that the traces may have been from Israeli bombs dropped on the site. Shaaban argued the international community should be more concerned about Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities. Although Israel has never confirmed it has nuclear weapons, it is widely considered to possess such arms. "The world should speak with one voice, one measure," Shaaban said.