Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Syria’s Nuclear Update: Syria Denies and Destroys; IAEA Left in the Cold?

Posted by K.E. White on October 19, 2007

So Syria is trying to quell allegations that Israel bombed a nuclear facility within its territory. And all this confusion raises a serious question: Can the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) to effectively lead on nonproliferation efforts?

The equation of the Syrian nuclear press-blitz:

Denial + Destroy = Trust?

JTA Break News reports on Syrian plans to destroy the site, before it can be investigated by impartial parties:

Syria reportedly is clearing the remains of the alleged nuclear facility that Israel attacked last month.

Dismantling the site will make it difficult for International Atomic Energy Agency officials to learn what the facility was used for, the Washington Post reported Friday.

This will make it tough for IAEA inspectors, who noted with concern that IAEA-member Syria had not disclosed the site, in a tough spot.

But don’t worry: the United States has cleared up any confusion, via satellite photographs:

U.N. experts have received satellite imagery of the site struck last month by Israeli warplanes and are analyzing it for signs that it might have been a secret nuclear facility, diplomats said Friday.

One of the diplomats indicated that the photos came from U.S intelligence. Two others said the images, which have been studied by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency since being received on Thursday, do not at first examination appear to substantiate reports that the target was a nuclear installation, but emphasized that the images were still under examination.

The diplomats, who were briefed on the agency’s receipt of the images, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because their information was confidential. Officials of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog had no comment.

The Syrian episode seems to reveal some stark limitations on the IAEA. If member nations cannot be trusted to either disclose nuclear activities or conclusively disprove other nations’ nuclear allegations, how can the IAEA effectively curb proliferation?

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