Daily Israel Report

Russia Wants to Build Nuclear Plants in Syria

Russia wants to help Syria, which has been charged with trying to get nuclear arms, build nuclear plants while promoting a nuke-free Middle East.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/11/2010, 3:37 PM / Last Update: 5/11/2010, 6:06 PM

Russia, which is helping Iran build nuclear plants, now wants to add Syria to its list of investments in atomic energy while the US enlists support for the idea of making Middle East free of nuclear weapons. Israel is the only country in the region that is thought to have nuclear weapon capability, but Syria is suspected of having tried to build a nuclear warhead.

U.S. President Barack Obama last week renewed sanctions against Syria, which has been trying to gain access to mass destruction weapons.

The United States recently confirmed Israeli estimates that Syria has helped arm Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon with tens of thousands of missiles. The U.S. government defines Syria as a country that sponsors terror, and a nuclear power plant would give it access to enriched uranium, a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon.

"Cooperation on atomic energy could get a second wind," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a press conference with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. He echoed Iran’s claim that all countries should be able to build nuclear power plants for peaceful purposes.

Russia and China, both of which have an economic investment in Iran’s nuclear plants, have blocked American proposals that the United Nations Security Council pass harsh sanctions against Tehran because of its lack of cooperation on allowing United Nations nuclear inspectors to examine its facilities.

During Medvedev’s visit, Assad called on the Russian president to help keep nuclear weapons out of the Middle East, meaning Israel. The impression of a presence of nuclear weapons in Israel, which has not confirmed or denied its capability, gives the Jewish State a measure of deterrence as the Arab world continue to stockpile more advanced weapons.

The upgrading of ties between Russia and Syria could lead to a declining influence of the United States in the region as Syria pursues its aim of forcing Israel to surrender the strategic Golan Heights, restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.