US wants Syria reported to UN on nukes
Vienna - The United States will ask the UN atomic watchdog to report Syria to the UN Security Council over its alleged illicit nuclear activity, according to a draft resolution obtained by AFP on Monday.
At a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors next week, Washington will urge member states to report Syria to the Security Council, despite an apparent pledge by Damascus to break a three-and-a-half-year silence over its alleged nuclear ambitions.
"We are aware that the Syrian government has sent a letter to the IAEA regarding the agency's long-standing requests for full Syrian co-operation," the US Charge d'Affaires in Vienna, Robert Wood, wrote in restricted letter circulated to member states last Friday.
"Such co-operation indeed would be welcome, but would not have any bearing on the finding of non-compliance or the board's responsibilities with regard to that finding."
Washington has drawn up a resolution for adoption by the IAEA's 35-member board of governors next week finding Syria in so-called "non-compliance" with its international obligations and calling on watchdog chief Yukiya Amano to report this non-compliance to the UN Security Council in New York.
The last time a member state was reported to the UN Security Council was Iran in September 2005.
"We believe that board action... is critical for preserving the credibility of the IAEA and the safeguards system in light of Syria's continued stonewalling of the agency's investigation," the letter said.
IAEA not convinced
The United S has long argued the Syrian nuclear dossier should be sent to New York because of Damascus's stubborn refusal to answer allegations it was building an undeclared nuclear reactor at a remote desert site called Dair Alzour until it was bombed by Israeli aircraft in September 2007.
In the latest report on the matter last week, the IAEA - clearly frustrated with Syria's stonewalling - decided to state publicly for the first time that all the evidence suggested the building was indeed a nuclear reactor.
Damascus has always denied the allegations and said Dair Alzour was a non-nuclear military installation, but provided no evidence so far to back this up.
The IAEA, for its part, is not convinced.
And in its toughest-ever report since starting its probe in 2008, it concluded that "based on all the information available to the agency and its technical evaluation of that information, the agency assesses that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the agency".
Western diplomats said IAEA chief Amano has sent a note to member states indicating that Syria has said it is now ready to "fully co-operate with the agency".
The diplomats said they saw it as a move by Damascus to avoid a referral to the UN Security Council in New York.