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Der Al-Hadjar Nuclear Research Center

Last Modified: Aug. 17, 2012
Other Name: Dayr al Hajar; [1] Dahr el Hajar; SAEC Research Centre
Location: 140km north of Damascus [2]
Subordinate To: Atomic Energy Commission of Syria (AECS)
Size: Unknown
Facility Status: Operational

Constructed in the early 1990s, the Der Al-Hadjar Nuclear Research Center houses Syria's only research reactor, the Chinese-supplied SRR-1 Miniature Neutron Source Reactor.[3] The bulk of Syria's nuclear-related work takes place at the Center.[4] Research includes nuclear physics and chemistry; use of radiation and radioisotopes in medicine, agriculture, biology, and geology; exploration of radioactive ores; management and procedures for the use of radioactive resources; protection from radiation; and the effects of radiation on humans and the environment.[5] The facility is subject to IAEA inspections under Syria's safeguards agreement with the IAEA.[6] In 2008 and 2009, environmental samples taken by the IAEA revealed particles of processed natural uranium that were not in Syria's declared inventory. [7] Syrian officials later acknowledged performing experiments irradiating uranyl nitrate at the SRR-1. After inspecting the source of the uranium particles at the phosphoric acid pilot plant in Homs and revisiting the SRR-1, the IAEA found that Syria's declarations were consistent and reverted to the "routine implementation of safeguards" at Der Al-Hadjar. [8]

Sources:
[1] CIA, "Syria: Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January through 30 June 2002," April 2003, www.cia.gov.
[2] Anthony H. Cordesman, "Syrian weapons of mass destruction," Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2 June 2008, p. 16, www.csis.org.
[3] A. George, "Syria Takes Delivery of Its Chinese Reactor," Nuclear Engineering International12/93, 1 December 1993, pp. 46-47.
[4] M.E. Eads, International Research Centers Directory, 11 ed., 1999, p. 326.
[5] Robin Hughes, "Country Briefing: Syria - Syria's Dilemma," Jane's Defense Weekly, 7 September 2005, www.janes.com.
[6] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 78.
[7] IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic," Report by the Director General to the Board of Governors, GOV/2009/56, 28 August 2009, www.iaea.org.
[8] IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic," Report by the Director General to the Board of Governors, GOV/2011/30, 24 May 2011, www.iaea.org.

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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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