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Syria Pledges IAEA Cooperation Again
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Peter Crail

Syria is ready to agree on a plan with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to address concerns about a site the agency determined was “very likely” a nuclear reactor, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano told the agency’s governing board Sept. 12.

The IAEA Board of Governors referred Syria to the UN Security Council in June for noncompliance with its safeguards obligations following the agency’s assessment that Syria should have declared the alleged reactor to the IAEA. (See ACT, July/August 2011.) Israel destroyed the facility, located at a site called Dair al Zour, in 2007. (See ACT, October 2007.) Damascus has claimed the site was a non-nuclear military facility.

According to Amano, Syria said in an Aug. 24 letter that it was willing to meet with agency safeguards staff in October “to agree on an action plan to resolve the outstanding issues in regard to [the] Dair al Zour site.” He added that the IAEA responded with proposed meeting dates of Oct. 10-11. The agency’s latest report on Syria in May said that Damascus “has not engaged substantively” with the IAEA on the nature of the Dair al Zour facility since June 2008, when Syria allowed the only inspection of the site.

Syria similarly promised in May to cooperate fully with the agency’s investigation into its suspected illicit nuclear activities, prior to its referral to the council. Although Amano noted in his statement that the agency has held a number of meetings with Syria since that time, diplomatic sources said that Damascus had not provided the pledged cooperation.

In a Sept. 14 statement to the IAEA board, U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA Glyn Davies said, “We deeply regret that Syria has made no substantive effort to remedy its noncompliance” since the board action in June.

Posted: September 30, 2011