IAEA Refers Syria to UN Security Council
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accused Syria of maintaining a covert nuclear program in the Security Council on Thursday, but the 15-nation body took no immediate action amid divisions among key powers.
The IAEA board of governors voted in June to refer Syria to the council, rebuking it for stonewalling an agency probe into the Dair Alzour complex, which was bombed by Israel in 2007.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters the nuclear watchdog had given a "devastating briefing ... from which you could only draw one conclusion -- that Syria did have at Dair Alzour a clandestine nuclear plant."
Damascus had "tried to conceal the purpose of that plant ... misled the IAEA about what the purpose was and ... failed to cooperate effectively with the IAEA in following up the questions that the IAEA put to them," he said.
Western countries agreed the council should pursue the issue, but intimated it would probably not be discussed again before September.
Russia and China, allies of Damascus who can veto any council action, questioned the council's involvement as the Syrian complex no longer exists.
"We should not talk about something that does not exist. There are a lot of things that happened in the past -- should we discuss all of them?" Beijing envoy Wang Min asked unhappily.
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari 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 said.
US intelligence reports say the complex was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic weaponry, before Israeli warplanes reduced it to rubble.
Syria has said it was a non-nuclear military facility.
Syria pledged on May 26 to cooperate with the IAEA and provide access to sites and information related to the probe, but the IAEA says cooperation has not improved since then.