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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Questions IAEA on Syrian Nuclear Risks

RIA Novosti

23:12 05/09/2013 MOSCOW, September 5 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has handed over an official request to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to analyze potential nuclear risks of a US airstrike on Syria, a Russian diplomat said Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would raise the issue at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors on Monday.

Russia’s permanent envoy to international bodies in Vienna, Vladimir Voronkov, said he had handed over an official letter to IAEA director general Yukia Amano.

“We request the agency to immediately react to the current situation and provide member states with an analysis of risks, related to potential US strikes on a neutron reactor and other objects in Syria,” he said, adding that similar letters were sent to Vienna envoys of other IAEA member states.

A day before, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged the IAEA secretariat to urgently evaluate nuclear risks of a US strike on the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus and other nuclear objects in Syria.

Western intervention in Syria could jeopardize the region’s nuclear security, the ministry said in a statement, adding that any damage caused to a neutron reactor near Damascus would have disastrous consequences.

The IAEA told RIA Novosti that it would consider Russia’s risk-analysis initiative as soon as an official request arrives. On Thursday, a diplomatic source in Vienna told RIA that Moscow would soon send an official request to the agency.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Wednesday to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack last month.

A US intelligence report claims that the Assad regime was behind a chemical weapons attack near Damascus on August 21 that Washington says left more than a thousand civilians dead.

The UN Security Council has so far not authorized any military intervention in the Syrian crisis. Russia has urged all sides in the conflict to use diplomatic means to resolve it.

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