Cablegate: Iaea/Syria: Divided Board Remains Seized of The


DE RUEHUNV #0539/01 3361508
O 021508Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. UNVIE 00529
B. UNVIE 00521


1. (SBU) The IAEA Board of Governors November 27 formally
addressed Syria for the fifth time in as many boards.
Despite a critical report by the Director General noting no
progress on the Dair Alzour investigation and mounting
questions on uranium traces at the Miniature Neutron Source
Reactor that foreshadow possible confirmation of safeguards
failures in the March 2010 report to the Board, the Board
debate exposed continued divisions on the Syria nuclear
issue. Reflecting the same trends from previous Boards,
like-minded countries (EU, JUSCANZ plus Argentina, ROK, and
Ukraine) called for Syria to cooperate as requested by the
Agency and in adherence with its safeguards obligations,
while the NAM and Arab states insisted that IAEA requests for
cooperation were beyond Syria's legal obligations and
welcomed Syrian cooperation to date. Russia and Switzerland
called for Syria and other member states, to include Israel,
to cooperate with the Agency's investigation. South Africa
was the most balanced among the NAM members addressing the
Board, but it also called out Israel. There were no new
converts among Board members calling Syria to account, though
new Board member Ukraine, in its first intervention on the
subject, came out clearly in the like-minded camp, as did
fellow newcomer South Korea. Syria took issue with the
Agency's continued questions regarding Dair Alzour, claiming
the facility is not nuclear-related and therefore not subject
to IAEA safeguards -- in essence disregarding all the
information and concerns explained by the Agency over the
course of various reports by the Director General.

2. (SBU) Few countries focused on the probable safeguards
failure by Syria in not declaring the import of uranyl
nitrate. Syria downplayed this by saying that uranyl nitrate
is available commercially and has "nothing to do with
safeguards." End Summary.

Syria Issue Divides
Board Along Familiar Lines

3. (SBU) Seventeen statements were delivered on the Syria
agenda item: Sweden on behalf of the seven EU Board
members, Egypt on behalf of the NAM, Ukraine, Canada, Cuba,
Argentina, Switzerland, Venezuela, USA, Japan, Russia,
Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, South Korea, Turkey, and South
Africa). Board members Azerbaijan and Ukraine associated
themselves with the EU statement. There are 13 NAM members
on the Board, although they do not have a unified policy like
the EU. Under Rule 50 Iran, Libya, Israel, and Syria spoke.
Overall, this is the group of speakers we have previously
heard from, except for Board newcomers Ukraine, Venezuela,
and South Korea (though ROK has previously addressed the
issue under Rule 50.) Brazil, China, and Uruguay remained

Questions on Correctness and
Completeness of Syria's Declaration

4. (SBU) Relatively few countries focused on the safeguards
reporting failure by Syria in not declaring the import of
uranyl nitrate. Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand,
Ukraine, (and Israel under Rule 50) joined the U.S. in
questioning the correctness and completeness of Syria's
safeguards declarations with respect to the import of
undeclared uranyl nitrate for the Miniature Neutron Source
Reactor (MNSR). Some of these countries also quoted the
Secretariat's remarks from the November 18 technical
briefing, in which the IAEA stated that Syria should have
declared the importation. South Korea expressed concern
about the uranyl nitrate, and the EU looked forward to the
results of the IAEA's November 17 visit to the MNSR for
follow-up samples. (Comment: The EU statement did not
address this as a possible safeguards issue, as EU members
await further information from the Secretariat. The French
Mission informed us in confidence that consideration of the
French bilateral relationship with Syria led the French
Ambassador to refrain from deploying a question regarding the

uranyl nitrate her staff had prepared for her use during the
technical briefing for member states on November, 18. End

5. (SBU) NAM members did not address the import of uranyl
nitrate, although Syria downplayed it by saying that uranyl
nitrate is available commercially and has "nothing to do with
safeguards." (Note: This Syrians made this claim despite
the IAEA's explicit statement during the Technical Briefing
that the uranium should have been reported by Syria for
safeguards purposes. End note.)

Like-Minded and Others Repeat DG's
Call for Syrian Cooperation

6. (SBU) The EU, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South
Korea, and the United States called on Syria to cooperate
with the Agency's investigation of Dair Alzour, including
providing access to information, locations, and
equipment/debris. Joining the like-minded countries,
Argentina delivered a strong statement supporting the DG's
assessment that it is necessary to arrive at a full
understanding on the uranium particles at Dair Alzour, the
imagery, and the procurement activities that the Agency
assesses could be related to the construction of a nuclear
reactor. Argentina joined Canada, Australia, and the U.S. in
calling on Syria to give the Agency access to additional
sites that might be functionally related to Dair Alzour.

7. (SBU) The same countries, along with Ukraine, South Korea,
and Turkey, called on Syria to establish modalities, as
recommended by the DG, to protect sensitive information in
Syria and thus facilitate Agency access to military sites.
The Ukraine, in its national statement, took issue with
Syria's refusal to give the Agency access to information and
locations, especially given the IAEA's mandate on nuclear
issues. Ukraine said it needed to have IAEA confirmation
that there were no undeclared activities in Syria.

8. (SBU) Turkey called on Syria to cooperate with the Agency,
noting that no progress had been achieved on the Dair Alzour
investigation since September, but expressed more optimism
than did like-minded countries that Syria would provide the
necessary cooperation. Turkey also welcomed Syria's
cooperation at the MNSR.

9. (SBU) The EU, Japan, Australia, and the United States
called on Syria to sign and implement the Additional

10. (SBU) Japan and Canada remained concern about the
possible connection between the Dair Alzour site and North

11. (SBU) Like-minded countries also called on the DG to
continue reporting on Syria and to keep this issue on the
Board's agenda. No consensus was reached on Canada's call to
release the DG's report to the public, as Cuba and Egypt (and
Syria under Rule 50) opposed public release on the same
grounds as in previous Board sessions.

Russia and Switzerland

12. (SBU) Russia called for Syria to cooperate with the
Agency as requested by the DG, but also gave equal weight to
calling on member states to provide information to the Agency
that led them to believe it was a nuclear reactor.
Switzerland expressed "only moderate" optimism that this
issue would reach an eventual solution, noting that this case
goes "well beyond nuclear aspects," a probable reference to
the dissatisfaction with how this issue was brought to the
Agency. Switzerland encouraged all parties to assist the
Agency investigation, but cited this as "first and foremost
about Syria who should respond to questions by the Agency."
Switzerland also called out Israel by name as another party
that needed to respond to the Agency's questions.


13. (SBU) The NAM statement, read by Egypt, referred back to

NAM Summit conclusions on the Syria issue, placing the onus
on Israel. The NAM reiterated that while considering this
issue, it is essential not to lose sight of how it was
brought to the attention of the Agency. The NAM found it
regrettable that the Board had not expressed its position on
Israel's attack on Syria and on the late provision of
information to the Agency. The NAM welcomed Syria's
continued cooperation within the limits of its safeguards
agreement, essentially rejecting IAEA statements that
unanswered, outstanding requests are within Syria's
safeguards obligations. The NAM statement, as well as
national NAM statements, focused on the Israeli attack and
called on "others" to make information available to the

14. (SBU) Cuba blamed the lack of progress cited by the DG in
his report on the bombing of the site and the late provision
of information to the Agency. Venezuela said that any
analysis on this issue was "beset with uncertainties" since
the facility was destroyed by Israel. Venezuela explicitly
said the additional requests of the Agency go beyond the
legal obligations of Syria's safeguards agreement. Egypt
noted that the DG's request for Member States to make
information available to the Agency "have been ignored," and
in light of this the Board should question the inclusion of
this item on future Board agendas. (Comment: The NAM
continues to highlight the need for Member States to provide
additional information to the Agency, which is not a
safeguards obligation, while rejecting all calls by the IAEA
for Syria to live up to obligations. End Comment.)

15. (SBU) South Africa associated itself with the NAM
statement, but said that the Agency should ensure all
safeguards are applied (within the safeguards agreement) and
that Syria should establish modalities that would facilitate
progress in verification. South Africa strongly encouraged
Israel to provide the specific information requested by the
Agency with regards to the munitions used in the bombing.

16. (SBU) Under Rule 50, Iran delivered its usual diatribe,
condemning the "Zionist" regime of Israel and calling on the
UN Security Council to immediately condemn Israel's attack on
Syria. Iran again invoked a resolution from the 1990 General
Conference (GC/RES/533 that considers the attack of nuclear
installations a violation of international law. Iran
criticized the Board for reporting confidential technical
details of its investigation on Syria, similar to Iran's
complaint of the IAEA's reports on the Iran item. Libya also
delivered a statement under Rule 50, adding that an end must
be put to the double standards which are discriminatory and
"can only bring about radicalization and an upsurge in

Rule 50: Israel

17. (SBU) Israel pronounced that the DG's reports show a
pattern of noncooperation by Syria, refusing access to sites
including where the debris is located. Israel called Syria's
activities a "gross breach" of its safeguards obligations.
Israel also requested that it be referred to by its proper


18. (SBU) The Head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission,
Ibrahim Othman, delivered Syria's statement last under Rule
50. Othman thanked Egypt, the NAM, and other friendly states
for their statements and expressed regret to hear the
statements of others "leveling accusations against Syria
despite Syria's cooperation and positive engagement with the
Agency." Othman expressed surprise that the Agency continued
to ask questions about the Dair Alzour facility after Syria
had explained to the Agency that the previous and current
buildings at Dair Alzour are not nuclear-related. Othman
said that Syria had provided the Agency "all sorts of
cooperation under the relevant obligations."

19. (SBU) As in previous statements, Syria focused on
Israel's attack on Syria's sovereign territory (a flagrant
violation of international law) and highlighted Syria's
self-restraint in not responding to the attack to maintain
peace and stability in the region. Othman said that it was a

double-standard to demand Syria provide non-existent
information about the facility while not holding Israel
accountable for attacking a sovereign country. He called on
Israel, as a member of the IAEA, to submit a list of all
Israeli bombs that contain depleted uranium and subject all
nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection.

20. (SBU) Othman characterized all cooperation with the
Agency on the Dair Alzour facility as voluntary cooperation
beyond its safeguards obligations as the facility is
non-nuclear. In this regard, he cited a memorandum of
understanding between Syria and the Agency that provided for
a one-time visit to Dair Alzour. Othman touted Syria's
cooperation by responding to inspectors' questions during and
after the visit. He rejected the Agency's request to view
debris removed from the bombed site, saying it was "not
natural" for the Agency to request this and to expect the
debris to be available. Othman dismissed the "few natural
uranium particles" found at Dair Alzour, adding that they
could not be "scientifically" explained as resulting from
nuclear activity nor can they be described as undeclared
nuclear material as there are "only a few particles."

21. (SBU) Othman was displeased to see the Agency incorporate
into the Syria report the "minute quantities" of uranium
particles found during the Agency's inspections. He
downplayed the import of uranyl nitrate because the material
is commercially available and has nothing to do with
safeguards. Othman asked the Agency not to include questions
regarding the MNSR in future reports.

22. (SBU) Othman said that Syria is always ready to cooperate
with the Agency to bring these issues to closure provided it
is not done at the expense of its national security and
sovereignty. Othman called on the Agency to conduct itself
with neutrality and not to rely on "non-credible open
sources" and "desires of certain states whose political
intents are known to all."

U.S. Statement As Delivered

23. (SBU) Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

We thank the Director General for his latest report and
commend the Secretariat for its professional input of the
technical investigation in Syria. Syria's ongoing refusal to
cooperate with the IAEA remains of serious concern to the
United States, and, indeed, should concern all supporters of
the Agency's safeguards system and the international
nonproliferation regime. This Board must not allow any
country to hinder inspectors and attempt to dictate its
safeguards obligations and the terms by which the Agency may
meet the verification responsibilities with which it has been

We hope future reports will reflect a decision by Syria to
change course and provide the Agency a full accounting of its
past and present nuclear program, and allow the Agency the
access to locations and information it has requested. Until
Syria makes such a decision, the IAEA will not be in a
position to give the international community meaningful
assurances that Syria is not engaged in undeclared nuclear
activities. Indeed, with every new report on Syria submitted
by the Director General, the Board is presented with mounting
evidence that Syria's clandestine nuclear activities were not
limited to the Dair Alzour facility.

For well over a year, the IAEA has been investigating Syria's
clandestine nuclear activities related to the destroyed
reactor at Dair Alzour. Regrettably, Syria has not used this
time to resolve the serious outstanding questions about the
reactor and other suspect sites of interest to the IAEA.
Instead, it has attempted to dictate the terms of the IAEA's
investigative authority and to actively hinder the Agency's
efforts to verify the scope and peaceful nature of Syria's
nuclear activities. Contrary to its safeguards obligations,
Syria continues to deny inspectors access to locations and
information the Agency has deemed essential to fulfill its
verification mandate.

Syria has not provided credible explanations for the presence
of undeclared chemically-processed uranium at the site of the
destroyed reactor. Syria continues to refuse to provide
information and supporting documentation about the destroyed

facility at Dair Alzour. Syria has not adequately addressed
the Agency's questions about nuclear-related procurement
efforts. Syria continues to deny the Agency information
related to nuclear cooperation with the DPRK. Worse yet,
while denying such access, Syria appeared to have sanitized
the sites upon receiving the IAEA's request to visit them,
according to the IAEA's review of commercial imagery from
those sites.

As members of the IAEA Board of Governors, we should not
tolerate Syria's pervasive undermining of the Agency's
verification efforts. This willfully puts into question the
credibility of IAEA safeguards.

We note with concern Syria's assertions that "due to the
military and non-nuclear nature of the Dair Alzour site and
the other three locations, it had no obligation to provide
more information under its Safeguards Agreement." This
amounts to unilaterally seeking to change the terms of its
safeguards obligations. As stated clearly in the Director
General's report, "The presence at the Dair Alzour site of
particles of anthropogenic natural uranium of a type not
included in Syria's declared inventory gives rise to
questions about the correctness and completeness of Syria's
declaration, which the Agency is obliged to pursue."
Furthermore, the Director General has rejected Syria's
unfounded assertions that it has no obligation to provide
information and access due to the military-nature of a site.

We also note with serious concern that significant questions
have now arisen about the correctness and completeness of
Syria's declaration at the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor
(MNSR), a safeguarded facility. As noted in the Director
General's report to the September Board, anthropogenic
uranium of a type not included on Syria's declared inventory
was detected in the hot cells at the MNSR.

After being confronted with evidence contradicting Syria's
previous explanation for the origins of the uranium, Syria
presented the Agency with two additional possible sources for
the undeclared uranium traces: domestically produced
yellowcake and "small quantities of imported, but previously
undeclared, commercial uranyl nitrate." This raises a
serious question about Syria's compliance with its safeguards

Article 34(b) of Syria's Safeguards Agreement requires that,
when any material containing uranium or thorium which has not
reached the stage where it is suitable for fuel fabrication
or for isotopic enrichment is imported, Syria shall inform
the Agency of its quantity and composition, unless the
material is imported for specifically non-nuclear purposes.
The uranyl nitrate presence at the MNSR suggests it was
indeed intended for nuclear-related purposes -- why else
would it be there? We also note the Secretariat's statement
at the Technical Briefing on the Director General's Syria
report that the uranyl nitrate should have been declared to
the IAEA for safeguards purposes. We would, Mr. Chairman,
ask that this statement be reflected in the Board Chair's
summary of this item.

We are pleased the Agency was permitted to conduct a follow
on visit to the MNSR on November 17 and look forward to a
report before the March Board meeting on whether Syria has
resolved the Agency's outstanding questions on the origin of
the undeclared anthropogenic uranium detected at the facility
and on the safeguards implications of the previously
undeclared activities.

When considering the importance of the multiple outstanding
questions, and the mounting evidence that Syria's clandestine
nuclear activities were not limited to Dair Alzour, the Board
should not lose sight of the following: the configuration
and location of the destroyed reactor suggests that it was
not intended for peaceful purposes. Given the gravity of
this issue and the fact that Syria continues to seriously
impede the IAEA's verification efforts, the United States
urges all Board members to join us in demanding that Syria
fully cooperate with the IAEA investigation without delay by
granting the IAEA access to any information, debris and sites
needed to complete its investigation.

Syria's attempts to deceive the IAEA and the international
community before and during the investigation underscore the
limitations on the Agency's ability to fulfill its mission in
a country with a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement but

without an Additional Protocol. The importance of verifying
the absence of undeclared nuclear activity led the
international community to develop the Additional Protocol in
order to give the inspectors the tools they need to provide
the necessary assurance that a country's declaration is not
only correct, but is also complete, and that its nuclear
program is therefore exclusively for peaceful purposes. We
call on Syria, and on all states that have not yet done so,
to sign and implement the Additional Protocol without delay.

The existence of undeclared nuclear sites seemingly intended
for non-peaceful purposes, and the possibility of safeguards
violations including undeclared nuclear material, are matters
of grave concern to the entire international community.
Therefore, in the spirit of transparency, the Board should
make available to the public the Director General's report on
"Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian
Arab Republic."

Mr. Chairman,

We look forward to the Secretariat's report before the March
meeting of the Board of Governors on the progress of the
Agency's investigation. And we once again strongly urge
Syria to provide without further delay whatever access and
information the Agency deems necessary to resolve all
outstanding questions.

Thank you.

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