IAEA sees glimmer of hope on Syria nuclear probe

IAEA sees glimmer of hope on Syria nuclear probe

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday pinned its hopes on Syrian promises to cooperate, in a new report that also noted the Middle Eastern country's lack of effort so far to shed light on its alleged secret nuclear programme, dpa reported.

Since Israel bombed a suspected Syrian reactor in 2007, the Vienna-based IAEA has visited the site and concluded it bears the hallmarks of a nuclear installation.

But Damascus has denied that the al-Kibar site, also known as Dair Alzour, was nuclear. The IAEA has not been allowed to visit three possibly related locations.

The IAEA said it "could represent a step forward" that Syria's Foreign Ministry recently said the country would resolve outstanding questions, and that it has approved an IAEA visit of a uranium processing plant.

The nuclear agency had nothing positive to report other than that.

"Syria has not cooperated with the agency since June 2008 in relation with the unresolved issues (at) the Dair Alzour site and the other three locations allegedly functionally related to it," IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said in the document.

The US think tank ISIS reported earlier this week that one of the three sites contained equipment typical for making a certain type of reactor fuel, based on photographs taken by an intelligence agency.

A senior official with knowledge of the Syria investigation said that "the site that was in the media is a site that the IAEA is following."

Two Western diplomats told the German Press Agency dpa earlier this week that plans to put forward a resolution urging Syrian cooperation at the IAEA board meeting early next month had all but been dropped.

"The top priority is Iran," one of the diplomats said on condition of anonymity. "We can't have pressure on two issues."

Diplomats have said solving the Syrian issue is less urgent because the main facility was destroyed.

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