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Syrian President Bashar Assad
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Syria: Israel did not target nuclear facility
Foreign ministry official denies reports that satellite images taken of site struck by Israeli warplanes last month show it might have been a nuclear facility, saying they are part of campaign of accusations against Damascus
A Syrian foreign ministry official on Wednesday denied reports that satellite images taken of a site struck by Israeli warplanes last month showed it might have been a nuclear facility, saying they are part of a campaign of accusations targeting Syria.

 

The renewed denial follows the publication of some news reports that quote experts as saying that satellite imagery taken before the secret September 6 airstrike showed buildings under construction similar in design to a North Korean reactor capable of producing nuclear material.

 

United Nations diplomats last week told The Associated Press that UN experts have begun analyzing satellite imagery of the Syrian site, disclosing what amounts to the first independent look at reports that Damascus was hiding a nuclear facility.

 

It was unclear where the material was obtained or what exactly it showed. One of the diplomats who is linked to the International Atomic Energy Agency — the UN nuclear watchdog examining the photos — said IAEA experts were looking at commercial images, discounting suggestions from other quarters that they had come from US intelligence.


Images of facility struck by IDF (The Washington Post)

 

Diplomats familiar with the issue said initial perusal of the material had found no evidence that the target hit was a nuclear installation. They emphasized that it was too early to draw definite conclusions.

 

"Syria strongly denies the reports that the targeted site is a nuclear facility," the Syrian Foreign Ministry official told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. The official described the reports as "part of a continuing campaign of accusations against Syria."

 

Since the bombing, news media have quoted unidentified US officials as saying that the airstrike hit some sort of nuclear facility linked to North Korea, which is now in the process of dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

 

On Friday, The Washington Post cited American officials as saying the site in Syria's eastern desert near the Euphrates River had characteristics of a small but substantial nuclear reactor similar to North Korea's facility.

 

Syria denies that it has an undeclared nuclear program, and North Korea has said it was not involved in any nuclear program in the Mideast nation. Syrian President Bashar Assad has said the Israelis targeted an unused military building.

 

Syria has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has allowed agency experts to inspect its only known nuclear facility — a small, 27-kilowatt reactor, according to diplomats linked to the IAEA.

 

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