Syria must be reported to UN over nuke claims: Britain

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Britain believes that Syria should be reported to the UN Security Council over its alleged illicit nuclear activity, Britain's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Wednesday.

In a restricted report circulated to member states last week, the UN watchdog said it was "very likely" that a remote desert site in Syria bombed by Israeli planes in 2007 was indeed a covert nuclear reactor, as alleged by the United States.

British ambassador Simon Smith told reporters the report left no option but for the IAEA to refer Syria to the UN Security Council in New York.

"What the director general (Yukiya Amano) has told us about is a case of Syria's non-compliance with its comprehensive safeguards agreement," he said.

"And we, and quite a number of other countries equally convinced as we are, will be arguing that -- as we are obliged to do by the statutes of the IAEA -- this non-compliance needs to be reported to the UN Security Council," added Smith, who is also Britain's ambassador to Vienna.

Damascus has always insisted that the site, known as Dair Alzour, was a non-nuclear military installation but it has provided no evidence so far to back this up.

Aside from a one-off visit in June 2008, Syria has refused to allow IAEA inspectors access, despite repeated requests for cooperation from Amano.

Diplomats say the tougher language of his latest report -- it was the first time that Amano has publicly made such an assessment since the IAEA started investigating the allegations in 2008 -- reflects the watchdog chief's growing frustration with Syria.

© 2011 AFP

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