IAEA Irked at “Premature” Syria Nuclear Disclosures

Here is an interesting blog posting from Moon of Alabama mocking the nuclear story. I am unable to assess this, but the sorce is smart.

IAEA Irked at “Premature” Syria Nuclear Disclosures
By Mark Heinrich
November 11, 2008

VIENNA (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog criticized on Tuesday diplomatic disclosures that it had found uranium traces at a Syrian site under investigation, saying this was an effort to prejudge the agency’s conclusions.

It was a rare open expression of irritation within the agency about news leaks, which some say risk putting a political spin on its technical findings in probes of nations suspected in the West to be illicit nuclear proliferators.

Several diplomats tracking the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday that particles of processed uranium turned up in some test samples IAEA inspectors took at the site. These were not enough to draw conclusions about any undeclared nuclear activity but warranted further investigation, they told Reuters.

IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming confirmed the agency was drafting a report on Syria and had put it on the agenda of the agency’s November 27-28 governors meeting — both firsts, in what diplomats said hinted inspectors had found something serious.

But she said the IAEA’s evaluation of findings from a June visit to the site, which Washington says was a secret nuclear reactor almost built before it was bombed by Israel in 2007, was not finished and a public verdict was unwarranted until then.

“We regret that people are trying to prejudge the IAEA’s technical assessment. We are, however, accustomed to these kinds of efforts to hype and undermine the process before every meeting of the IAEA board (of governors),” Fleming said.

The IAEA did not challenge the substance of Monday’s revelations about the uranium traces.

A diplomat close to the agency said its concern was that the leaks could not reflect the full picture and that circulating highly confidential information before an official report could discourage Syrian cooperation with the IAEA.


Syria’s ambassador to the IAEA did not return messages asking for comment. There was also no comment from Damascus. It has dismissed U.S. intelligence pointing to a nascent plutonium-making reactor at the site as fabricated….

Comments (5)

Helena Cobban said:

Josh, you should give due prominence to the superb takedown that Bernhardt posted yesterday on Moon of Alabama, of all the anti-Syrian, fearmongering leaking that’s been coming from around the orbit of the IAEA

Please could you put his text into SC as a main post? You’ve given a lot of prominence to all the fearmongering stories, without putting in nearly enough of your own analysis of them. They all have deep weaknesses, not least their reliance, Judy Miller style, on anonymous sources and ignorance of some basic scientific facts, as well explored by Bernhardt.

The fearmongering spinners are trying to raise enough questions/concerns among western publics that Syria becomes increasingly forced– as Saddam was– into the impossible position of having to “prove a negative”, i.e. the non=existence of a NW program.

The world can’t stand another war of US aggression. And US publics should examine very carefully indeed all the “info ops” steps that are being taken to try justify one.

November 11th, 2008, 5:19 pm


why-discuss said:

IAEA is laughable and dysfunctional.
They took years to come to no-conclusion in Iraq with a flurry of leaks and are indirectly responsible for the Iraq catastrophy. In Iran, they are taking ages and every leaked statement says the opposite of the previous one. Now they are starting the Syria game. I wonder why they don’t have ONE speaker that gives THE clear official IAEA evaluation regularly and disclaim loudly any of the numerous ponctual leaks that are easily manipulated by Israel.
They should stop been “irked” and do something!

November 11th, 2008, 11:40 pm


norman said:


Syria blames Israeli bombs for uranium traces

2008-11-12 13:48:02 –

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syria’s foreign minister suggested Wednesday that Israeli bombs may be the source of uranium traces that diplomats at the U.N. nuclear agency said were found at a suspected nuclear site.
Walid al-Moallem said the leaks by the diplomats about the traces found at the site that was targeted by Israeli warplanes in September 2007 were politically motivated and aimed at pressuring Syria.
«No one has ever asked himself what kind of Israeli bombs had hit the site, and what did they contain?» he went on, adding that the United States and Israel had «similar acts» of using bombs containing depleted uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan.
«These media leaks are a clear-cut signal that the purpose was to pressure Syria. This means that the subject is not technical but rather political,» al-Moallem said at a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
Unnamed diplomats at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency have said samples taken from a suspected nuclear site bombed by Israeli planes last year contained uranium combined with other elements that merit further investigation.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tuesday his agency is taking allegations of a secret Syrian atomic program seriously and urged Damascus to cooperate fully with his investigation. He also urged other nations with information that could help the investigation to share what they know.
Elbaradei declined to comment on what the diplomats had said, telling reporters during a visit to the Czech capital of Prague only that his agency still has «a number of questions» linked to the allegations.
The U.S. has said the facility was a nearly completed reactor that _ when on line _ could have produced plutonium, a pathway to nuclear arms.
Al-Moallem said the original U.S. contention was that the alleged Syrian reactor was under construction, and not operational. «So the question is: From where the traces of enriched uranium came
Syria has previously denied any covert nuclear program, and al-Moallem said Wednesday Damascus was waiting for ElBaradei’s report to respond.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Tuesday the latest findings on Syria were «still being drafted and our assessment and evaluation is still under way.» Once the process is finished, the report will be submitted to the IAEA Board of Governors ahead of its next meeting, which is scheduled to take place Nov. 27-28.

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November 12th, 2008, 2:10 pm


AIG said:

Yes Mouallem, Israel would put enriched uranium in conventional bombs. Do you think before you put your foot in your mouth and make yourself look even more guilty?

If the Syrians are resorting to kindergarten excuses, they must be under a lot of pressure.

November 12th, 2008, 3:02 pm


norman said:

Syria should get out of IAEA if It does not intend to help.

Friday, November 14, 2008 – Page updated at 07:55 AM

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Diplomats: West opposed to IAEA nuke aid to Syria

Associated Press Writer

Diplomats say the U.S. and key allies are objecting to an International Atomic Energy Agency offer to help Syria as it considers building a civilian nuclear power plant.

The diplomats have told The Associated Press that the West objects because Damascus is being investigated over allegations it tried secretly to build a reactor that could produce fissile warhead material. Syria denies illicit nuclear activity.

The IAEA feasibility study would cost just over over $350,000, according to a copy of a confidential document obtained by the AP.

But the diplomats said Friday that the Western nations are even more concerned that the project would send the wrong signal.

They asked for anonymity because their information was confidential.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

November 14th, 2008, 5:21 pm


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