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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Nuclear Inspectors Cite Problems in Syria, Iran

By VOA News
19 February 2009

The United Nations nuclear agency says it has found more traces of uranium at a Syrian site that Israel bombed because of suspicions it was a covert nuclear plant.

A report to members of the International Atomic Energy Agency board in Geneva Thursday said the uranium was processed and not naturally occurring. It also gave only a "low probability" that the element came from missiles.

Syria argued that traces of uranium found there were from Israeli weaponry used to bomb the al-Kibar site in 2007.

Damascus has long denied the facility was related to nuclear activities, a charge leveled by the United States. The IAEA said last year that al-Kibar had "features" characteristic of a nuclear site.

In a separate report, the IAEA noted Thursday that Iran continues to enrich uranium, in defiance of international demands.

But a senior U.N. official familiar with the agency's findings said that expansion of its enrichment work had recently slowed significantly.

The report also noted that Tehran's continued lack of cooperation on other nuclear issues has led to concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's atomic program.

When asked about the report, a U.S State Department spokesman, Gordon Duguid, said the international community cannot have confidence in the "exclusively peaceful" nature of Iran's program if Iran continues its noncompliance of international nuclear obligations and transparency with the IAEA.

He also said it is "particularly imperative" that Syria give the IAEA "unfettered access" to any site or information as required by the nuclear regulatory agency.

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