Syria denies concealing nuclear activity

Associated Press / March 5, 2010

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VIENNA - Syria yesterday denied hiding nuclear activities from the world and said Israel was the source of suspicious uranium particles found at a Syrian desert complex bombed two years ago by the Jewish state.

The Syrian comments to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors were strongly backed by Iran and made in response to Western demands that Damascus stop stonewalling IAEA attempts to investigate suspicions that it ran covert nuclear programs - some with possible weapons applications.

While Iran remains the main focus of the board, Syria’s refusal to allow IAEA inspectors into the country for a follow-up visit to sites possibly linked to secret nuclear work was the focus of yesterday’s closed meeting.

A recent IAEA report prepared for the board said for the first time that uranium particles found at the desert facility destroyed by Israeli warplanes in September 2007 indicate possible covert nuclear activities at the site. The finding lent backing to Western allegations that the bombed target was a nearly completed nuclear reactor that Washington says was of North Korean design and meant to make weapons-grade plutonium.

Delegates inside the meeting said Syria’s chief IAEA delegate offered a new theory yesterday: Israel dropped uranium particles from the air after the bombing to implicate his country.