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Ja'afri - Syria not afraid
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Section of bombed facility
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Syria: Reactor footage was fabricated
'We have nothing to hide,' says Syrian ambassador to UN, adding Damascus will cooperate with IAEA investigation. Envoy denounces evidence presented by US regarding alleged nuclear reacto as 'false and futile,' while President Assad also slams claims as 'illogical'

Syria's UN envoy said Damascus was "not afraid" to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog, which pledged on Friday to look into whether Syria secretly built an atomic reactor with North Korean help.

 

"We have close cooperation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)," Bashar Ja'afari told reporters who asked if his country would comply with the agency's demands for an inquiry.

 

"Syria has nothing to hide. The IAEA chief (Mohamed ElBaradei) is there to witness that what we are saying is absolutely true. So we are not afraid of this cooperation," he said, noting that his country had joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970.

 

The United States revealed intelligence material on Thursday about the alleged Syrian atomic plant, saying it was "nearing operational capability" a month before Israeli warplanes bombed it on Sept. 6 2007.

 

Ja'afari said the US allegations showed the Central Intelligence Agency was a "failure" and needed "to restructure itself".


Image revealed in Congress briefing (Photo: Reuters)

 

"I think this CIA report is in itself another proof of the huge failure in the business done by the CIA as well as by the American administration," he said.

 

"The main target of the American CIA allegations against Syria is to justify the Israeli attack against the Syrian site."

 

Ja'fari suggested the issuing of the report was linked with what he said were conflicts within the US administration over the wisdom of dealing with North Korea over its nuclear program.

 

The Syrian ambassador dismissed pictures illustrating the US intelligence material. "These pictures are prefabricated, they are false and they are futile," he said.

 

"Just look at them and you will see that this so-called building which was, according to these rumors and allegations, predestined to be a nuclear reactor - if you look at it you will see that the walls are thick like this," he said, making a gesture indicating thin walls.

 

"Any simple expert would tell you that for a nuclear reactor the walls must be thick - three or four metres - not like this."

 

IAEA: Israel should have let us investigate

''The Director General views the unilateral use of force by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the nonproliferation regime,'' said the office of Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency. ElBaradei slammed the US for not providing his organization with intelligence information in its possession at a previous date.

 

He did not criticize North Korea or Syria in his statement.

 

In Washington, the State Department brushed aside ElBaradei's complaint and said the IAEA should begin investigating the matter.

 

Assas: Illogical claims

Meanwhile Syrian President Bashar Assad scoffed at the US claims. Assad questioned the logic of such allegations and insisted once again that a site in Syria destroyed by Israel seven months ago was an unused military facility.

 

''Is it logical for a nuclear site to be left without protection and not guarded by anti-aircraft guns?'' Assad

told the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan, which published excerpts of the interview Friday. ''A nuclear site under the watch of satellites in the middle of Syria in the desert and in an open location?'' he added sarcastically.

 

He repeated Syria's previous contention that the site destroyed by the Israelis was ''a Syrian military position under construction and not a nuclear reactor.''

 

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

 

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