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Nuclear Inspector Calls On Syria and Israel

UN Nuclear Inspector Calls On Syria, Israel To Fully Cooperate

New York, Nov 27 2008 1:10PM

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency today said "it is baffling" that satellite pictures necessary for his investigation into an alleged nuclear reactor site in Syria were not available, as he called for complete cooperation from all sides.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probe follows allegations that an installation destroyed in a bombing raid by Israel in September last year was a nuclear reactor.

Information provided by the United States in April this year noted that the reactor was not yet operational and no nuclear material had been introduced into it.

"The agency was severely hampered in its assessment by the unilateral use of force and by the late provision of information about the destroyed building," Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told the IAEA Board of Governors.

The 35-member Board heard that the destruction of the building and the subsequent removal of the debris made the agency''s work difficult and complex, and that its results have been inconclusive until now.

"For its assessment of the site immediately after the bombing the agency was unable to obtain commercial satellite imagery," Mr. ElBaradei told the Vienna meeting.

"It is regrettable and indeed baffling that imagery for this critical period, which would have been most valuable in helping to clarify the nature of the building, which was destroyed, was not available," he added.

The agency had been able to examine samples found at the site, which revealed significant numbers of uranium particles produced as a result of chemical processing.

"Syria stated that the only explanation for these particles is that they were contained in the missiles used to destroy the building," reported Mr. ElBaradei.

He said that the IAEA has asked Syria for permission to inspect the site to determine the origin of the uranium and the possible existence of any nuclear grade graphite that is normally associated with the type of alleged reactor.

"The agency has also asked Israel to provide detailed information concerning Syria''s claims regarding the origin of the uranium particles," Mr. ElBaradei told the Board.

He concluded the meeting by saying that the features of the destroyed building are similar to those found in a nuclear reactor.

"For the agency to complete its assessment, maximum transparency by Syria and the full sharing with the agency of all relevant information which other States may have are essential."

ENDS

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