U.S.: Syria Must End Nuclear Go-Slow, Conflict No Excuse
The United States accused Syria on Friday of using the “brutal repression” of its people waging an uprising as an excuse not to address U.N. nuclear watchdog concerns about suspected past illicit nuclear activity in the Arab state.
For its part, Syria insisted at a debate of the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had agreed last year with the IAEA on how to handle the issue. This was denied on Monday by the IAEA chief in a speech to the board.
The IAEA has long sought access to a site in Syria’s desert Deir al-Zor region that U.S. intelligence reports say was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor designed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons before Israel bombed it in 2007.
The Vienna-based watchdog has also been requesting information about three other sites that may have been linked to Deir al-Zor.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said earlier this year that Syria had asked for understanding of its “delicate situation” in response to requests for Syrian cooperation with his inspectors’ inquiry.
President Bashar al-Assad is fighting a 17-month-old revolt in which more than 27,000 people have been killed.
U.S. IAEA envoy Robert Wood said Syria’s “own destabilizing actions are no justification for its refusal” to abide by its commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), set up to prevent the spread of atomic weaponry.
“The Assad regime is using its brutal repression of the Syrian people as an excuse for not cooperating with the agency’s investigation,” he told the closed-door board governors’ session, according to a copy of his speech.