UN Nuclear Watchdog Agency Rebukes Syria

Posted June 10th, 2011 at 12:20 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency has voted to report Syria's covert construction of a nuclear reactor to the Security Council for possible punitive action against the Arab nation.

The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency rebuked Syria on Thursday for three years of stonewalling investigators attempting to visit and collect information about Damascus' Dair Alzour complex that was destroyed by Israel in 2007. U.S. intelligence reports say it was a nascent, North Korea-designed reactor that was intended to produce plutonium for nuclear bombs.

White House spokesman Jay Carney applauded the IAEA's 17-to-6 vote referring the issue to the Security Council, saying it was a significant action “to uphold the nonproliferation rules of the road.” He said the Syrian facility had “no apaprent legitimate civilian purpose.”

What happens next is unclear. China and Russia were among countries voting against sending the issue to the Security Council, where both hold veto power. Russia, a long-time ally and arms supplier of Syria, said the evidence against it was hypothetical and based on “possible alleged insufficiencies.”

The U.N. has sanctioned both Iran and North Korea for their nuclear development programs. But U.N. diplomats say that unless there is new evidence that Syria has resumed nuclear weapons development, the country is unlikely to be sanctioned.