• Narrow screen resolution
  • Wide screen resolution
  • Auto width resolution
  • Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Default font size
  • default color
  • red color
  • green color

World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Apr 12th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow U.S. says Syria must not hinder IAEA nuclear probe
U.S. says Syria must not hinder IAEA nuclear probe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Heinrich   
Thursday, 26 June 2008


 VIENNA (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday welcomed a U.N. check of a Syrian site said to have harbored an almost-built secret nuclear reactor before Israel destroyed it, but called on Damascus not to restrict the investigation.

Syria gave International Atomic Energy Agency sleuths a good look at the isolated desert site during a four-day fact-finding trip, but results were inconclusive and further investigation is needed, they said on their return from Syria on Wednesday.

"We welcome the inspection as a first step and stand ready to support the IAEA as it continues its investigation into Syria's clandestine nuclear activities," said Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"We call on Syria to fully cooperate with the IAEA and in no way hinder the investigation by refusing the IAEA unfettered access to any site or information needed for the investigation," he said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Syria denies concealing anything from the IAEA in violation of its non-proliferation treaty commitments, saying Israeli warplanes bombed an ordinary military building last September.

Washington says Syria built a camouflaged graphite reactor based on a North Korean design, with Pyongyang's assistance.

U.S. nuclear analysts say satellite images show the Syrians swiftly razed the site, removed debris and put up a new building after the bombing in what they regard as a possible cover-up.

The initial scope of the IAEA inquiry was limited by what diplomats said was Syria's refusal to let the inspectors search two or three other sites for any signs of a source of fuel for the reactor, or relevant equipment or facilities.

Syria denied access on national security grounds, asserting such sites were conventional military bases only and off-limits.

Asked about other sites, the IAEA's inspections chief Olli Heinonen said on Wednesday the issue would be addressed later.


Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara told Lebanon's Al-Manar television that Damascus opened al-Kibar to the IAEA so it could see for itself "the allegations are forged and false."

But he said the IAEA had a mandate to "visit the site in question only." Al-Manar did not say when Shara's remarks were taped. Syria imposed a news blackout on the inspectors' visit and was maintaining official silence on Thursday.

Heinonen said his team was able to take extensive samples in search of traces of evidence at the remote desert location and the sensitive inquiry was off to "a good start," with Syria's cooperation generally satisfactory at this stage.

He said it would take some time to evaluate initial findings and talks with Syrian officials to get explanations would go on. He hinted further visits would be needed to resolve the mystery.

Mark Fitzpatrick, non-proliferation scholar at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Heinonen's remarks were diplomatically phrased to obscure the true level of Syrian cooperation which appeared to be little.

"Environmental samples that would show the presence of uranium particles have little meaning at a site where there apparently was no uranium fuel to begin with," said Fitzpatrick.

"It would be useful to know whether Syria allowed the inspectors to use sonar equipment to judge what is below the surface at the site, including the buried pipes for cooling and discharge to the Euphrates River," he said.

"And did Syria allow the inspectors to look for graphite particles in the areas outside the land that was bulldozed after the Israeli attack? I suspect that the inspectors were tightly restricted in what they were allowed to observe and measure."

The IAEA dispatched nuclear detectives to Syria after receiving satellite and ground photos from U.S. intelligence of the al-Kibar site in April.

Damascus is an ally of Iran, whose secretive nuclear program has been under IAEA investigation since 2003. Damascus has accused the United States of doctoring evidence in collusion with Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power.

(Editing by Dominic Evans)
© 2008 Reuters


< Prev   Next >

In Memory

Rafik Hariri
Rafik HaririIn Memory of Rafik Hariri, he rebuilt Beirut, at the time of his brutal Assassination Lebanon witnessed the birth of the Cedars Revolution
Gebran Tueni
Gebran TueniIn Memory of Gebran Tueni One of the most Prominent founders of the Cedars Revolution
Sheikh Pierre Gemayel
Sheikh Pierre GemayelIn Memory of Sheikh Pierre Gemayel Another Prominent founder of the Cedars Revolution
George Hawi
George HawiIn Memory of George Hawi another Anti-Syrian who supported the formation of the Cedars Revolution