Syria Questions Evidence Behind IAEA Reactor Finding

The International Atomic Energy Agency's assertion that a bombed Syrian facility had probably housed an undisclosed nuclear reactor is undermined by the U.N. organization's reliance on U.S.-furnished data to make its case, the Associated Press quoted Syria's envoy to the United Nations as saying on Wednesday (see GSN, Nov. 1).

The Vienna, Austria-based organization has sought for years to investigate suspicions that Syria's Dair Alzour facility had housed a reactor intended to produce weapon-usable plutonium, according to earlier reports. Israel in 2007 bombed the site, which Damascus says was a military installation with no nuclear component.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano reaffirmed in a yearly assessment this week his May assertion that the destroyed installation had "very likely" housed a secret nuclear reactor. The U.N. nuclear watchdog's 35-nation governing board referred the Syria issue to the U.N. Security Council in June for potential action, he noted.

Amano's determinations rely on CIA photographs and interpretations, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja'afari said in remarks to the U.N. General Assembly.

Damascus lacks confidence in the reliability of the data and supporting records because Washington "pursues a political agenda inimical to [Syrian] interests," Ja'afari said.

The IAEA data "lacked credibility" and did not line up with prior agency analyses, the official said.

Ja'afari said Mohamed ElBaradei, the previous IAEA chief, had never issued a final determination on the destroyed complex. The United States took six weeks following the 2007 airstrike to give the U.N. agency photographs taken from space of the Syrian complex, raising further suspicions, the official added.

Syria backed a proposal for U.N. Security Council to press for the establishment of a Middle Eastern nuclear weapon-free zone, but the body never formally accepted or rejected the draft measure, Ja'afari said. "Western states" have maintained transfers to Israel of atomic systems, materials "and their means of delivery," he asserted, noting Amano had not addressed Israeli nuclear activities in his assessment this week (see GSN, Sept. 26).

Amano is expected next week to issue a quarterly nuclear safeguards report on Syria to his agency's governing board, according to previous reports (Edith Lederer, Associated Press/MSNBC.com, Nov. 3).

November 7, 2011
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The International Atomic Energy Agency's assertion that a bombed Syrian facility had probably housed an undisclosed nuclear reactor is undermined by the U.N. organization's reliance on U.S.-furnished data to make its case, the Associated Press quoted Syria's envoy to the United Nations as saying on Wednesday (see GSN, Nov. 1).

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