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Will the IAEA Get Tough on Syria?

3:42 PM, Jun 7, 2011 • By ROBERT ZARATE
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A confidential copy of a draft resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which would call for Syria to face consequences for its nuclear transgressions, is now being privately circulated among the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors, in the hopes of getting it approved by the board this week in Vienna, Austria. The United States, Britain, and other partners are standing behind this resolution.


Under the draft resolution, the IAEA’s Board of Governors would find Syria to be in “non-compliance” with its international nuclear obligations for secretly building (with North Korea’s assistance) a plutonium producing nuclear reactor at the Al Kibar facility near the town of Dair Alzour — a facility that was destroyed by a surprise Israeli airstrike in September 2007. The measure would refer Syria to the U.N. Security Council, which could opt to impose international sanctions on the Assad regime comparable to those already on Iran. 

In a bid to prevent (or delay) the IAEA board’s approval of the draft resolution, Syria recently sent a confidential letter to IAEA director general Yukiya Amano, promising “to fully cooperate” with the agency’s nuclear investigation. 

Here’s the full resolution currently under consideration:

Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic

Draft resolution submitted by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom and United States of America

The Board of Governors,

(a) Noting the Director General’s May 24, 2011 report (GOV/2011/30) on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic, and previous reports by the Director General regarding Syria (GOV/2008/60, GOV/2009/9, GOV/2009/36, GOV/2009/56, GOV/2009/75, GOV/2010/11, GOV/2010/29, GOV/2010/47, GOV/2010/63, and GOV/2011/8),

(b) Recalling that Syria undertook to accept safeguards, in accordance with its comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (INFCIRC/407) concluded pursuant to Article III of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within its territory, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere,

(c)            Noting that the Director General in his latest report to the Board expressed regret that information concerning the Dair Alzour site was not provided to the Agency in a timely manner and that force was used before the Agency was given an opportunity to establish the facts in accordance with its responsibilities under Syria’s Safeguards Agreement,

(d)            Commending the Director General and the Secretariat for their professional and impartial efforts to implement the Safeguards Agreement in Syria and to resolve outstanding safeguards issues in Syria,

(e)            Noting with serious concern that Syria’s statements concerning the destroyed building at Dair Alzour are limited in detail, are not supported by documentation and have not allowed the Agency to confirm Syria’s assertions regarding the non-nuclear nature of the building,

(f)            Noting with serious concern Syria’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA Director General’s repeated requests for access to additional information and locations as well as Syria’s refusal to engage substantively with the Agency on the nature of the Dair Alzour site since the Agency’s June 2008 visit,

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