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Israeli Bombs Are Source of Uranium at Shelled Site, Syria Says

Massoud A. Derhally

Israeli missiles are the source of
traces of uranium that diplomats at the International Atomic
Energy Agency
say were found at a suspected nuclear site in
Syria, according to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

``The basis of American complaint and allegations, presented
to the IAEA seven months after the Israeli raid, is that a
reactor was under construction, not operating, so where did the
uranium particles come from?'' al-Moallem said late yesterday,
according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency. ``Why has
nobody asked about the content and type of Israeli shells used in
destroying this building, in light of the U.S. and Israel's use
of uranium in their shells?''

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said Sept. 22 that
United Nations inspectors, on a visit in June, hadn't found any
traces of nuclear material at the site in al-Kibar that was
bombed by Israel in September 2007. U.S. intelligence officials,
who suspected Syria of having a covert nuclear program in the
1990s, said they were certain the government in Damascus was
building a secret facility with North Korean help in early 2007,
according to Congressional testimony in April.

The IAEA will present findings on its investigation into the
Syrian site to the UN agency's 35-member board of directors
before their next meeting on Nov. 27, ElBaradei said in Prague
this week.

``I regret very much the fact that we were not allowed to
investigate the issue before the facility was destroyed,''
ElBaradei said Nov. 11 in a Prague press briefing. ``The job has
become much more complicated for us.''

Syria, which is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, has denied the U.S. allegations. Israel's government has
declined to comment on the issue.

Al-Moallem said ``leaks of information by some Western
diplomats is a clear indication that the goal is to put pressure
on Syria, particularly as the campaign came before ElBaradei
reports to the board of governors. This means that the subject is
not technical but political.''

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