UN atomic watchdog meets on Syria

2011-06-06 14:00

Vienna - The UN atomic watchdog sat down to a week-long meeting here on Monday, with the United States and its Western allies looking to pass a resolution against Syria over its alleged illicit nuclear activity.

The traditional June session of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board of governors, set to run until Friday, has a heavy agenda, ranging from the upcoming two-year budget to the nuclear disaster in Japan.

But it will once again be the long-running investigations into illicit nuclear programmes in both Iran and Syria that will be the main focus of attention.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano was scheduled to give the the opening address to the closed-soor assembly.

While Iran has tended to be the dominant issue at board meetings in the past, Syria looks set to take the hot seat this time round after Amano stated unequivocally for the first time his conviction that a remote desert site that was flattened by Israeli bombs in September 2007 was "very likely" to have been a covert nuclear reactor.

The IAEA has been investigating the allegations for three years now, but Syria has so far refused to allow UN inspectors access to locations, data or individuals who could throw some light on the matter.

Amano's unprecedented remarks are aimed at turning up the heat on Syria which is increasingly frustrating the IAEA with its point-blank refusal to cooperate.

The United States, in particular, has seized on his comments as an opportunity to find Syria in "non-compliance" with its international obligations and refer it to the UN Security Council in New York.

Damascus has always insisted that the Dair Alzour site was a non-nuclear military installation but it has provided no evidence so far to back this up.

Aside from a one-off visit in June 2008, Syria has refused to allow IAEA inspectors access.

Western diplomats believe there is sufficient support on the 35-member board for the resolution to be passed, although it would be "naive" to expect it to be carried unanimously, a number of them said.

A corresponding resolution looks certain to win Western backing, but diplomats believe it would "naive" to expect unanimous support from the 35-member board.

Iran, too, will be in the spotlight after Amano, in his latest report, complained that the Islamic republic is continuing to stockpile low-enriched uranium, in defiance of multiple UN sanctions, and refusing to answer allegations of possible military dimensions to its contested nuclear programme.

Iran responded at the end of last month, but diplomats who said they have seen the six-page reply said it contained nothing substantively new and, in the view of one diplomat, only confirmed that Tehran is "unwilling to change course from its policy of non-cooperation."

  • Zion - 2011-07-04 18:21

    An argument here would be of a rather basal construction. American, Israeli and British concerns will have nuclear arms and weapons, even clandestinely hidden yet known of by the rest of the world. Y&et we have seen that when other nations like Syria and Iran supposedly have nuclear arms then we live in a state of hysteria. Our first reaction is to destroy them and their nuke armaments in the quickest manner possible. We saw this madness when the War was declared on Iraq and in the name of weapons of mass destruction. Ultimately the outcome of that war was the death of thousands of Iraqis, innocent civilians who perished in the name of the great and cowardly George Bush and Tony Blaire. Was it worthwhile? did it justify the war and killing in the first place. Does it rest easily on the conscience of the above mentioned tyrants. If we do not sleep well with "them" having nuclear weapons how do they sleep knowing we have those weapons.

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