U.N. nuclear inspectors were denied access to sensitive Syrian sites, though recent behavior in Damascus may suggest there is little concern, officials said.
The Israeli air force in 2007 struck a facility near al-Kibar, Syria, which intelligence officials claim was a nuclear reactor of North Korean design under construction since 2001.
A report from Jane’s Intelligence Review in 2009 said commercial satellite imagery of another Syrian site, al-Safir, depicts what are thought to be the defining characteristics of not only chemical weapons manufacturing, but also of heavy construction activity near a missile base.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Syria this week were denied permission to inspect sensitive military sites in the eastern desert regions of the country. Syrian officials speaking on condition of anonymity were quoted in the Emirati newspaper The National as saying the country was cooperating with the IAEA, but sovereignty would not be compromised.
Syrian analysts, meanwhile, told the newspaper off-the-record that global issues regarding Iran, Iraq and the beleaguered Israeli-Palestinian peace process made Syrian suspicions amount to “nothing.”
Damascus in recent years has moved to restore its reputation in the international community, reaching out to adversaries in Washington and Lebanon.
“Saying the nuclear situation is serious does not necessarily mean it’s a make-or-break issue,” added one western diplomat. UPI
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