Syria ‘very likely’ had an unreported nuclear plant, UN agency chief says

6 June 2011

The head of the United Nations atomic energy agency said today that “it is very likely” that a building destroyed in Syria in 2007 was a nuclear reactor, and there are indications that ‘seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also told the agency’s board of governors meeting in Vienna that the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “remains a matter of serious concern.”

Referring to Syria, Mr. Amano said: “the agency has come to the conclusion that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency. This is the best assessment of the agency, based on all the information in its possession.”

In his remarks to the same body last year, Mr. Amano said that Syria had not cooperated with the IAEA since June 2008 in connection with a building at Dair Alzour which was destroyed in an air attack on 6 September 2007 – by Israel, according to media reports. He said at the time that the agency therefore could not draw conclusions.

Today he said the Syrian Government had still not cooperated on investigations concerning the site.

“Nevertheless, we had obtained enough information to draw a conclusion. I judged it appropriate to inform Member States of our conclusion at this stage as it was in no-one’s interest to let this situation drag on indefinitely,” he said.

“It is deeply regrettable that the facility was destroyed – allegedly by Israel – without the Agency having been given an opportunity to perform its verification role. Rather than force being used, the case should have been reported to the IAEA.”

Turning to Iran, Mr. Amano said agency has received “information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities that seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.

“There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued until recently,” he said.

Iran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear programme is for the peaceful purpose of providing energy, but many countries contend it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and last year the Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against it, citing the proliferation risks of its nuclear programme and Iran’s continued failure to cooperate with the IAEA.

Earlier this month Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA.

Mr. Amano told the board today: “The nuclear programme of the DPRK remains a matter of serious concern for the North-East Asia region and beyond.”

“Last year’s reports about the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility and a light water reactor in the DPRK are deeply troubling.”

His remarks about the DPRK echoed a similar observation made at previous meeting of the board earlier this year.

 

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