The United States on Thursday welcomed a U.N. check of a Syrian site said to have harboured an almost-built secret nuclear reactor before Israel destroyed it, but urged Damascus not to restrict the investigation. Syria gave International Atomic Energy Agency experts a good look at the site during a four-day factfinding trip, they said on their return from Syria on Wednesday.
The initial scope of the IAEA probe was limited by what diplomats said was Damascus\' refusal to let the inspectors search two or three other sites for any signs of a source of fuel for the reactor, or relevant equipment or facilities.
\"We welcome the inspection as a first step and stand ready to support the IAEA as it continues its investigation into Syria\'s clandestine nuclear activities,\" said Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog. \"We call on Syria to fully cooperate with the IAEA and in no way hinder the investigation by refusing the IAEA unfettered access to any site or information needed for the investigation,\" he said in a statement, cited by Reuters.
Washington claims Syria built a camouflaged graphite reactor based on a North Korean design, with Pyongyang\'s assistance.
Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara told Lebanon\'s Al-Manar television that his country opened al-Kibar to the IAEA so it could see for itself \"the allegations are forged and false\". But he said the IAEA had a mandate to \"visit the site in question only\".