Monday, February 23, 2009

Graphite and uranium found at Syria site

From Reuters, Thu Feb 19, 2009, by Mark Heinrich:

VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. inspectors found graphite and more uranium traces in test samples taken from a Syrian site Washington says was a covert graphite nuclear reactor almost built before Israel bombed it, officials said on Thursday.

... one senior U.N. official said the discovery of additional uranium traces was "significant." That, together with graphite traces that are undergoing more tests, raised pressure on Damascus to provide evidence for its denials of wrongdoing.

The IAEA's November report said the site bore features that would resemble those of an undeclared nuclear reactor.

Thursday's report said Damascus, in a letter to the IAEA this month, had repeated its position that the desert complex destroyed by Israel, known as al-Kibar or Dair Alzour, in September 2007 was a conventional military building only.

But Syria, it said, was still failing to back up its stance with documentation or by granting further access for IAEA sleuths to the bombed location and three others cited in U.S. intelligence handed to the U.N. watchdog last year.

....The United States says its information indicates the site was a reactor that was close to being built with North Korean assistance and designed to produce plutonium for atomic bombs.

...Syria has also been asked to explain why it landscaped all four sites in question to alter their look after inspectors asked to examine them.
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