Proliferation Press

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

Archive for the ‘International Atomic Energy Agency’ Category

News Update: Syria’s Suspected Nuclear Site

Posted by K.E. White on November 1, 2007

Summary: Fox News talks with David Albright on his satellite analysis of Syria’s suspect nuclear site. And Oxford Analytica speculates on motives for Israel to overreact towards Syria’s mysterious site. And the IAEA investigation won’t make clearing anything up soon. 

Fox News talks with Albright, who suggests Israel’s attack was a rush-job:
 

“The Israelis stumbled upon this, were surprised and acted quickly,” Albright said. “And so we don’t know what evidence they collected or (if) they just panicked and decided to act without knowing and worried about the worse case.” 

Analysis of those previous images, taken by DigitalGlobe, found that the structure could be a nuclear facility at least several years from completion similar to one in North Korea, according to an ISIS report released last week.

Oxford Analytica lists reasons for an Israel overreaction, and suggests this nuclear mystery won’t clear up anytime soon:

The publicly available information could have other reasons for wanting to suggest the site was nuclear:

–Israel is anxious to rebuild an appearance of strength after its perceived setback at the hands of Hizbollah in Lebanon last year.

–Israel may also have been interested in taking action that might cause Iranian leaders to reconsider their own nuclear ambitions.

–Attacking an alleged nuclear facility in Syria–a much easier target than Iran–might serve both purposes.

If the site was a nuclear reactor under construction, it has serious implications for security in the region and on the global stage.

And such uncertainty appears to be crippling the IAEA investigation into the site. From Reuters:

A U.N. watchdog inquiry into a suspected Syrian covert nuclear site bombed by Israel may end inconclusively without more information than satellite pictures that are already available, a diplomat said on Wednesday.

The IAEA has been studying before-and-after commercial aerial photos of the site and has asked Syria for explanations. But Syria has not replied and the pictures alone are unlikely to yield conclusions, the diplomat told Reuters.

“IAEA experts are looking back at the evolution of this facility. But with these pictures alone they feel they may be unable to draw conclusions,” the diplomat, familiar with IAEA affairs but not authorised to speak on the record, told Reuters.

Oxford Analytica points out that Syria is a fully compliment member of both the NPT and IAEA member of the NPT. And guess what? “[The suspected nuclear site] was still several years away from completion and was not required to be declared to the IAEA at its early stage of construction.”

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Posted in IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Nuclear, Syria | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

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?

Posted in IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Israeli strike, Nuclear, Syria | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Egypt Protests Eroding EU Support for Middle East Nuclear Free Zone

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

While Iran and North Korea nuclear ambitions dominate Western headlines, Israel’s undeclared-but-known nuclear weapons (aka ‘nuclear ambiguity) is a substantial hurdle to stemming Middle East nuclear proliferation. 

EU and aspiring EU members have backed off in their support for proclaiming a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. 

The reason? No, not Iran—but Israel. 

Whether one considers Israel’s nuclear forces justified or not, any long-term nonproliferation effort demand that Israel’s (along with India and Pakistan) nuclear status be declared and incorporated into international agreements on nuclear technology (i.e. the IAEA and NPT). 

From the Associated Press

European nations at past general conferences of the International Atomic Energy Agency have voted in favor of establishing a zone free of such arms. But at last month’s session, 25 of the 27 EU nations abstained as did other countries hoping to join the union. In all, 47 nations abstained. 

… 

This year, Israel and the United States opposed two paragraphs — one calling all nations in the Middle East “not to develop, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons,” the other urging nuclear weapons states to “refrain from any action” hindering the establishment of a Mideast zone free of nuclear weapons. Both passages were clearly aimed at Israel, which is thought to have nuclear weapons.

The vote prompted the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to send letters of protest to abstaining European nations. 

Arabnews.com describes the irritation experienced by Middle Eastern owing to the West’s tacit endorsement of Israel’s nuclear weapons—complicating nonproliferation efforts in this critical region.

However, the Egyptian and Syrian ambassadors yesterday signaled that their patience was wearing thin. “The fact that many UN and IAEA resolutions with regard to Israel’s nuclear capabilities are not carried out increases the frustration of the Arab peoples and threatens an arms race that could also threaten the peace and security of the region and the world,” said Othman.

He complained that Israel was the only country in the Middle East “to have nuclear weapons and nuclear capabilities which are not under international control.” It was, therefore, a legitimate concern “to ask Israel to join the other countries in the NPT” (the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), Othman said.

Posted in Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt, IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »