IAEA to visit Syria amid allegations of nuke activities
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UN inspectors will be in Syria in the course of June to check out the site of an alleged nuclear reactor that was bombed by Israel last year. The UN probe is based on new US intelligence reports suggesting the reactor had a military purpose.
UN inspectors will visit Syria to probe allegations that Damascus was building a secret nuclear reactor for military purposes, UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday.
"It has now been agreed that an agency team will visit Syria during the period June 22-24," ElBaradei told the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the start of its regular summer meeting.
"I look forward to Syria's full cooperation in this matter," he added
The alleged nuclear site was bombed and destroyed in an Israeli air strike in September last year.
ElBaradei criticised Israel for attacking the site before the IAEA had a chance to inspect it, and the United States for waiting until April to pass on intelligence alleging that the reactor had a military purpose and was built with North Korea's help.
"It is deeply regrettable that information concerning the installation was not provided to the agency in a timely manner and that force was resorted to unilaterally before the agency was given an opportunity to establish the facts," he said.
The US intelligence included photographs taken inside the reactor showing construction of the shield for the reactor core, and control rods and refueling ports on top of the reactor.
The reactor and the building that housed it were similar in design to the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, which produces plutonium, the US officials said.
Damascus immediately rejected the allegations as "ridiculous".
ElBaradei reminded board members that the IAEA was the competent authority to investigate allegations that any country signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty might be involved in illicit nuclear activities.
He also stressed that Syria had "an obligation" to report the planning and construction of any nuclear facility to the IAEA.
"We are therefore treating this information with the seriousness it deserves," he said.