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Security Council Agrees to Disagree About Syria Nuclear Program

IAEA presents its findings on Syria to the UN Security Council but China, Russia object to sanctions.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/15/2011, 5:55 AM / Last Update: 7/15/2011, 6:38 AM

Israel news photo

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday brought its allegations of covert atomic work by Syria before the UN Security Council, but the 15-nation body took no immediate action, Reuters reported.

Last September, IAEA said that Syria had refused to allow UN inspectors to visit Dair Alzour, the nuclear facility that was meant to produce plutonium and which was bombed by the Israeli Air Force while still under construction in 2007.

The IAEA’s report expressed concern that should Syria continue to stonewall the investigation, “some of the necessary information may deteriorate or be lost entirely.”

In June, the IAEA’s board of governors voted to report Syria to the Security Council over its behavior.

Reuters reported that during Thursday’s closed-door briefing by Neville Whiting, head of the IAEA safeguards department dealing with Syria and Iran, it was made clear that Syria had a secret nuclear plant.

But despite this, Syria’s close allies Russia and China queried whether the Council should be involved, as the Syrian complex no longer exists.

“We should not talk about something that does not exist,” Chinese envoy Wang Min was quoted as saying. “There are a lot of things that happened in the past -- should we discuss all of them?”

Russian envoy Alexander Pankin also dismissed the briefing, saying he hadn’t learned much from it.

Russia and China’s resistance to take action against Syria means the issue will probably not come up for discussion again before September, said the report.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and German Ambassador Peter Wittig were quoted as saying that the IAEA was due to produce a new report on Syria for its board of governors in September. “And then we take it from there,” Wittig said.

Meanwhile, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari was quoted as having said the meeting “didn't come to any conclusion because the Security Council considers only matters related to threats to peace and security, not to prefabricated, unfounded accusations against a member state of the United Nations.

“The point is that there is no case for the Security Council to consider in its deliberations,” he added.