The UN atomic watchdog chief on Monday demanded "full disclosure" by Iran over intelligence reports of secret atom bomb research, and said aides would go to Syria to examine allegations of covert nuclear activity there.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) added Syria to a growing list of nuclear proliferation worries after Washington in April turned over information suggesting Damascus built a nuclear reactor at a site bombed by Israel last September.
Iran has dismissed as bogus the intelligence indicating it combined programmes to process uranium, test high explosives and modify a missile cone in a way suitable for a nuclear bomb. Syria has said the accusations against it are "ridiculous".
But neither to date has backed up their denials with evidence or granted access to sites and key officials needed by the IAEA to resolve the two dossiers.
"The agency understands that Iran may have additional information, in particular on high explosives testing and missile-related activities, which should shed more light on the nature of the alleged [bomb research] activities," IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei told the agency's 35-nation Board of Governors in a speech launching its regular summer meeting.
He said reaching conclusions about the nature of Iran's nuclear energy quest depended on Tehran demonstrating "full disclosure" regarding the intelligence material.
It is contained in 18 classified documents that were briefly summarised at the end of the IAEA's latest report on Iran issued on May 26, an extraordinary step reflecting the gravity with which the UN watchdog views the information.
After months of what diplomats said was Syrian stonewalling on IAEA requests for investigative access, ElBaradei announced that senior aides would make a June 22-24 visit to Syria.
"I look forward to Syria's full cooperation in this matter," he told the closed IAEA governors' meeting in Vienna.
He did not say whether Syria would allow UN investigators to examine the Al-Kibar site in the country's remote northeast desert. IAEA officials declined to elaborate on visit plans and there was no immediate comment from Damascus.
But a senior diplomat versed in IAEA dealings with Syria said inspectors would go to Al-Kibar "plus other places" which he would not identify due to political sensitivities. Other diplomats had said two to three other Syrian sites were in question.
The heart of the matter is whether Syria, an ally of Iran, built a nuclear installation without telling the IAEA, which would violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty banning diversions of nuclear energy technology into atom bomb making.
Washington says the reactor was nearing completion when it was destroyed in the Israeli air raid.
Nuclear analysts, citing satellite photos, say Syria has razed and swept clean the Al-Kibar area since the bombing and erected a new building over it, possibly to erase evidence.
Washington urged Syria to cooperate fully with UN inspectors and allow officials to be interviewed. "Let's hope that the Syrian efforts haven't been too effective in covering up what it is they are trying to cover up: the nuclear facility - reactor," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
Damascus has said Israel's target was only a disused military building without atomic connections.
Washington said the reactor had been designed to yield plutonium fuel for nuclear weapons. It produced before-and-after aerial photographs of the suspected reactor as well as detailed interior images they said showed key components.
Iran says it is enriching uranium for nuclear fuel only to generate electricity, but is under UN sanctions for hiding the work in the past, continuing to restrict IAEA inspections and refusing to halt enrichment in exchange for trade benefits. (Reuters)For all the latest energy and oil news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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