IAEA Refers Syria To Security Council

The IAEA has voted to report Syria to the United Nations Security Council because of non-compliance with its international nuclear obligations.

An August 5, 2007 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows a suspected nuclear reactor site in Syria.(AP)
An August 5, 2007 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows a suspected nuclear reactor site in Syria.(AP)

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The International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, has voted to report Syria to the United Nations Security Council because of non-compliance with its international nuclear obligations.

In a 17 to six vote, with 11 countries abstaining, the IAEA passed a resolution that expressed "serious concern" about "Syria’s lack of cooperation," highlighted Syria's history of concealing nuclear activities, and noted that "the resulting absence of confidence that Syria's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes have given rise to concerns regarding the maintenance of international peace and security."

The resolution came after the IAEA Board of Governors considered a report by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.  In that report Mr. Amano provided detailed evidence that a facility in Syria known as the Dair Alzour [dare al-zoor] site, which was destroyed by Israeli planes in September 2007, was very likely a nuclear reactor.  As such, it should have been reported to the Agency.  He also cited Syria's refusals to honor repeated requests by the IAEA for information related to the site.

In a written statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the decision by the IAEA Board of Governors to report Syria's non-compliance to the Security Council.  It was, she said, "an important step, given Syria's demonstrated refusal to cooperate with the IAEA investigation and its attempt to construct a secret nuclear reactor with the assistance of North Korea.

"Syria," said Secretary Clinton, "is challenging the authority of the IAEA and the integrity of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation regime."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that the IAEA's decision "marks a significant action by the international community to uphold the non-proliferation rules of the road.

"Syria," he said, "attempted to build a secret nuclear reactor capable of producing large amounts of nuclear weapons-useable plutonium, but with no apparent legitimate civilian purpose.  Syria has stonewalled and obstructed the efforts of the IAEA to investigate the nuclear reactor for years, refusing to provide access to associated sites, personnel, and documents in violation of Syria's freely-accepted legal obligations."

Mr. Carney concluded by saying, "The United States remains determined to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.  We will work with partners and allies around the world to stand together to insist that every country meet its responsibilities or be held accountable for its actions."

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