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Atomic Energy Commission of Syria (AECS)

Last Modified: Aug. 17, 2012
Other Name: Syrian Atomic Energy Commission (SAEC)
Location: Damascus
Subordinate To: Office of the Prime Minister of Syria [1]
Size: Unknown
Facility Status: Operational

The AECS is an autonomous institution, affiliated with the Office of the Prime Minister, which is responsible for conducting research and training on atomic energy and its applications in various scientific and industrial fields.[2] Additionally, the AECS handles the extraction, processing, import, export, and control of radioactive materials. [3] In 1992, the AECS assumed responsibility for coordinating Syria's Comprehensive Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).[4]

Established on 27 March 1976, by 1981 the AECS had become Syria's primary nuclear regulatory agency.[5] [6] In 1998, the AECS transferred its regulatory functions to a newly founded subsidiary, the Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Office (RNR), which is responsible for preparing and enforcing regulations, carrying out nuclear and radiological inspections, and ensuring emergency preparedness and safety/risk assessment.[7] Since the RNR Office is subordinate to the AECS, the AECS remains the ultimate regulatory authority. The AECS is a co-founder and prominent member of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency (AAEA), working closely with the AAEA and the IAEA on radiation protection, safety, and security at the Syrian Regional Training Center.[8] In 2006, the AECS held five training courses on nuclear equipment and other topics, provided training to 19 scientific staff from other countries in the region, and hosted four scientific visits.[9]

AECS personnel are currently conducting research on CO2 lasers, a technology with dual-use implications. CO2 lasers are proliferation relevant, because they can be used to enrich uranium through laser isotope separation.[10] Furthermore, Ellen Laipson, President and CEO of the Stimson Center, asserts that there is an "organic link" between the AECS and the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC).[11] The SSRC is a civilian agency tied to the military establishment and the main center for new research and development on unconventional weapons and their delivery systems.[12]

Sources:
[1] "Syria: Atomic Energy Commission Formed," Middle East Economic Digest 20, No.14, 2 April 1976, p. 27.
[2] "Syria: Atomic Energy Commission Formed," Middle East Economic Digest 20, No.14, 2 April 1976, p. 27; Ellen Laipson, "Syria: Can the Myth Be Maintained without Nukes," in The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider their Nuclear Choices, eds. Kurt M. Campbell, Robert J. Einhorn, and Mitchell Reiss (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), p. 92.
[3] "Syria: Atomic Energy Commission Formed," Middle East Economic Digest 20, No.14, 2 April 1976, p. 27.
[4] "Syria: Atomic Energy Commission Formed," Middle East Economic Digest 20, No.14, 2 April 1976, p. 27.
[5] R. Shweikani, H. Suman, and I. Othman (AECS), "Towards Optimal Use of Available Technical Resources for Regulatory Purposes: The Syrian Experience," p. 1, www.iaea.org.
[6] Magnus Normark, Anders Lindblad, Anders Norqvist, Bjorn Sandstrom, and Louise Waldenstrom, "Syria and WMD: Incentives and Capabilities," FOI Swedish Defence Research Agency, June 2004, p. 54, www2.foi.se.
[7] IAEA General Conference, Fifty-First (2007) Regular Session, "Plenary: Record of the Fifth Meeting," held in Vienna, Austria, 19 September 2007, p. 13, www.iaea.org.
[8] I. Othman, and S. Alayoubi, "Syrian Preparatory Process for the First NPP Project," Steps for Conducting Nuclear Power Plant Technology Assessments Workshop, Vienna, Austria, 17-20 March 2008, www.iaea.org.
[9] R. Shweikani, H. Suman, and I. Othman, "Towards Optimal Use of Available Technical Resources for Regulatory Purposes: The Syrian Experience," AECS, p. 2, www.iaea.org.
[10] I. Othman, and S. Alayoubi, "Syrian Preparatory Process for the First NPP Project," presentation for workshop on "Steps for Conducting Nuclear Power Plant Technology Assessments" hosted by IAEA, Vienna, Austria, 17-20 March 2008, p. 18, www.iaea.org.
[11] Ellen Laipson, "Syria: Can the Myth Be Maintained without Nukes," in The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider their Nuclear Choices, eds. Kurt M. Campbell, Robert J. Einhorn, and Mitchell Reiss (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), p. 92.
[12] Ellen Laipson, "Syria: Can the Myth Be Maintained without Nukes," in The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider their Nuclear Choices, eds. Kurt M. Campbell, Robert J. Einhorn, and Mitchell Reiss (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004), p. 92.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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