For the first time since November, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have visited the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) in Damascus, Syria, as part of their probe into Western allegations of covert nuclear activity in the nation.
The Israeli military attacked a building in the Syrian desert in September 2007, and the US later claimed the site was a gas-graphite nuclear reactor. Then-IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said the allegations will be next to impossible to prove since Israel attacked the site instead of turning over its evidence to the IAEA, but the probe has continued, and the IAEA claimed to have found “trace amounts of uranium” at the MNSR that were previousy undeclared.
Syria has been very open about intending to build a nuclear energy program, and as a member in good standing of the IAEA has access to assistance from the organization, despite US objections.
Current IAEA chief Amano Yukiya insisted in February that they cannot rule out that Syria has some sort of covert program, and today’s visit came with predictable griping from the IAEA that Syria did not allow them access to three military sites. Syria has noted repeatedly that it is under no obligation to provide access to these sites, and fears that the West is using the allegations as a way of spying on its conventional military arsenal.
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