Cyclotron Facility

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Last Updated: March 1, 2011
Other Name: N/A
Location: Nuclear Medicine Centre, near Damascus
Subordinate To: Atomic Energy Commission of Syria (AECS)
Size: 30 MeV [1]
Facility Status: Operational

In 1996, the AECS requested assistance from the IAEA in constructing a cyclotron facility for its Nuclear Medicine Centre in Damascus (the Dubaya Centre). [2] The IAEA approved the project and initiated construction in 1997. [3] Belgium's Ion Beam Applications (IBA) provided the Cyclone 30 cyclotron (negative ion, variable energy) and installed the machine in 2001. [4] Syria completed the project in 2007. [5] The estimated total cost to build the facility, including construction and support services, was more than $10 million. [6]

The cyclotron facility is used for the production of radioisotopes for medical applications, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). [7] The facility also produces short-lived and very short-lived radiopharmaceuticals, which were previously unavailable domestically in Syria and had to be imported. [8] The cyclotron is not used for education and training in nuclear sciences, health physics, or for other purposes. [9]

Of potential proliferation concern, particle accelerators of sufficient power are a viable route to acquiring fissile material. [10] Theoretically, Syria could use the facility to conduct research on uranium enrichment or reprocess plutonium. As R. Scott Kemp concludes, "many of the natural barriers to proliferation can be lifted by employing particle accelerators, even for the most primitive of proliferators." [11] However, Syria's cyclotron is currently involved in several IAEA technical cooperation projects, and there are no reports or indications of misuse. [12]

Sources:
[1] "Cyclone 30," Ion Beam Applications, www.iba-cyclotron-solutions.com.
[2] 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. 55, www2.foi.se.
[3] Wyn Q. Bowen, and Joanna Kidd, "The Nuclear Capabilities and Ambitions of Iran's Neighbors," Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran, eds. Henry Sokolski, and Patrick Clawson (Carlisle: The Strategic Studies Institute, 2005), p. 73.
[4] "Syrian Arab Republic," Directory of Cyclotrons used for Radionuclide Production in Member States, p. 371, www-naweb.iaea.org; Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 78.
[5] "SYR/4/007: Cyclotron Facility for Medical Radioisotopes," IAEA-TC Project Datasheet, 1997, www-tc.iaea.org.
[6] Wyn Q. Bowen, and Joanna Kidd, "The Nuclear Capabilities and Ambitions of Iran's Neighbors," Getting Ready for a Nuclear-Ready Iran, eds. Henry Sokolski, and Patrick Clawson (Carlisle: The Strategic Studies Institute, 2005) p. 73, www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil; "Syrian Arab Republic," Directory of Cyclotrons used for Radionuclide Production in Member States, p. 371, www-naweb.iaea.org.
[7] 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. 55, www2.foi.se, "Syrian Arab Republic," Directory of Cyclotrons used for Radionuclide Production in Member States, p. 371, www-naweb.iaea.org.
[8] IAEA, "Syrian Arab Republic," Directory of Cyclotrons used for Radionuclide Production in Member States, p. 371, www-naweb.iaea.org.
[9] IAEA, "Syrian Arab Republic," Directory of Cyclotrons used for Radionuclide Production in Member States, p. 371, www-naweb.iaea.org.
[10] R. Scott Kemp, "Nuclear proliferation with particle accelerators," Science and Global Security 13, 2005, p.201.
[11] R. Scott Kemp, "Nuclear proliferation with particle accelerators," Science and Global Security 13, 2005, p.201.
[12] IAEA, "Country: Syrian Arab Republic," IAEA-TC Projects by Country, www.iaea.org.

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