ElBaradei urges more nuclear transparency from Syria

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The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog urged Syria on Thursday to show maximum transparency to ease international concerns over its suspected nuclear weapons program.
VIENNA, November 27 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog urged Syria on Thursday to show maximum transparency to ease international concerns over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member Board of Governors gathered in Vienna for a two-day traditional end-of-year meeting, focusing on recent reports on alleged illicit nuclear activities in Syria and Iran.

The IAEA's November 19 report on Syria relates to a site destroyed in September last year in an Israeli airstrike, an incident that had remained shrouded in secrecy until the United States released previously classified video and photographic evidence that it said proves North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear reactor.

The preliminary report is based on U.S. satellite intelligence and an on-site IAEA inspection in June, which found traces of uranium at the destroyed site.

Syria has dismissed the allegations, saying Israel targeted a conventional military building at Al-Kibar, and the uranium traces were from munitions used in Israel's attack.

The country has also been quick to draw an analogy with the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, when U.S. intelligence provided similar 'evidence' that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

"For the agency to complete its assessment, maximum transparency by Syria and the full sharing with the agency of all relevant information which other states may have are essential," Mohamed ElBaradei said in the opening statement at the IAEA meeting.

"It is important that Syria provide the agency with documentation in support of its statements concerning the nature and function of the destroyed building. Syria should also agree, as a transparency measure, to let the agency visit other locations," he added.

In a separate reference to Iran, ElBaradei said the Islamic Republic was continuing to defy UN demands to halt uranium enrichment and was still refusing to answer multiple allegations of past work on nuclear weapons.

Iran said on Wednesday it now has over 5,000 working centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz and will continue building centrifuges to enrich uranium for future nuclear power plants despite international sanctions.

Tehran is under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear program, which it insists has purely civilian goals. Western powers led by the United States, along with Israel, accuse Tehran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran says it needs nuclear power for electricity generation only.

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