By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The UN nuclear watchdog has briefed the Security Council on Syria’s suspected nuclear work.
The International Atomic Energy Agency voted in June to report Syria to the council. The IAEA criticized Syria for failing to cooperate with an agency probe into the Dair Alzour complex, bombed by Israel in 2007.
Western countries said the closed-door briefing by the IAEA’s Neville Whiting made it clear that Syria had a secret nuclear plant, something Damascus has long denied.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters Whiting had given a “devastating briefing … from which you could only draw one conclusion — that Syria did have at Dair Alzour a clandestine nuclear plant.”
Both Lyall Grant and German Ambassador Peter Wittig noted that the IAEA was due to produce a new report on Syria for its board of governors in September.
Russia and China — both allies of Damascus — questioned why the council should be involved since the complex no longer exists.
Chinese envoy Wang Min said Beijing was “not very happy” about the council’s involvement.
“We should not talk about something that does not exist. There are a lot of things that happened in the past — should we discuss all of them?” he asked.
Russian envoy Alexander Pankin said he had not learned much at Thursday’s briefing.
In a statement, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Damascus’s “positive and prompt cooperation with the IAEA would be the best way to resolve outstanding questions about its nuclear program.”
U.S. intelligence reports said the partly constructed complex was apparently modeled on a North Korean one to produce plutonium for atomic weaponry. Syria has said it was a non-nuclear military facility.
Israeli warplanes bombed the site on Sept. 9, 2007.