IAEA approves Syria nuclear aid despite concerns

November 27th, 2008 - 2:04 am ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Nov 27 (DPA) International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) members Wednesday approved nuclear aid for Syria, despite misgivings of several western countries that are concerned about Syria’s alleged secret nuclear programme, according to a diplomat at the meeting.The US, France, Britain and Australia, among others, did not want to approve the $350,000 project to find a suitable location for a nuclear power plant in Syria, which is under suspicion of having secretly built a reactor at al-Kibar in its eastern desert until it was destroyed by the Israeli air force in September 2007.

At a meeting on the IAEA’s technical aid budget that started Monday, developing countries insisted that the nuclear agency’s aid projects should not become politicised.

On Monday, the IAEA rebuked criticism from member states that it was too early for Syria to receive assistance on reactor siting and related training and scientific equipment, since the country is officially still in the earliest stages of planning.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said that “the priorities in our technical cooperation programme are the priorities of individual countries and should not be subject to political

A Western diplomat indicated that the agency’s members had agreed on a text accompanying their decision that took note of the West’s concerns. The IAEA would “keep the project under close scrutiny”, he said.

Without drawing any conclusions, ElBaradei noted last week that the features of the destroyed al-Kibar site were what was expected at a nuclear reactor site, and that IAEA inspectors had found uranium particles there.

Inspectors first visited al-Kibar in June, after having been pointed to the site by US intelligence.

The governing board of the Vienna-based agency is set to focus on Syria and Iran in a regular meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

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