IAEA Divided on Atomic Risks From Potential US Airstrike in Syria

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The head of the United Nations’ nuclear energy watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday that his agency was divided about nuclear risks from a potential US airstrike in Syria.

VIENNA, September 9 (RIA Novosti) – The head of the United Nations’ nuclear energy watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday that his agency was divided about nuclear risks from a potential US airstrike in Syria.

Yukiya Amano said that US and Cuban representatives disagreed about such risks, but their exact opinions could not be revealed because they spoke at a private meeting of the agency’s board of governors.

He said his agency would be unable to fulfill Russia’s request for such an assessment within the week.

It is a very “complicated issue” that “takes time,” he said, adding that it was important for the agency to listen to the opinions of other member states, so he was unable to tell “our Russian friends” when a reply would be provided.

Vladimir Voronkov, Russia’s permanent envoy to international agencies in Vienna, said Monday that he expected a reply to the request by the end of the week.

“We stressed that it is an urgent matter and called on the IAEA general director and the agency to act without delay,” Voronkov said. The board of governors’ meeting is expected to last through Friday.

On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged the IAEA secretariat to evaluate nuclear risks of a US strike on the miniature neutron source reactor near Damascus and other nuclear facilities 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 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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