ISIS Analysis of November 16, 2009 IAEA Report on Syria

by Paul Brannan

November 16, 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its November report on Syria. While the IAEA notes that no progress has been made to clarify outstanding issues related to its investigation of Syria’s suspected reactor construction project, the report does contain new information related to nuclear-related activities in Syria.


p> As previously reported, the IAEA had questioned Syria on the origin of anthropogenic natural uranium particles that it detected in routine samples that the Agency took from the hot cells of Syria’s existing research reactor project in Damascus. Syria has responded to the IAEA with possible sources for the uranium particles, including domestically produced yellowcake and what Syria apparently described as imported commercial uranyl nitrate. The IAEA notes that the procurement of the uranyl nitrate would be an undeclared activity. The presence of the uranium particles at the research reactor site in Damascus, along with the production of yellowcake and the procurement of uranyl nitrate, indicates that Syria is attempting to develop a level of competence in the processing of uranium. The IAEA informed Syria that it intended to carry out an inspection and take samples of the yellowcake and the uranyl nitrate on November 17, 2009.


p> As with the August 2009 report, Syria has still not clarified the purpose of procurements which the IAEA has referred to as “functionally-related” to the suspected Al-Kibar reactor site. In the August 2009 report, the IAEA refers to the procurement of large quantities of graphite and barium sulphate, as well as the water pumping equipment at the Al-Kibar site.


p> As was the case in the August 2009 IAEA report, Syria has not provided any additional cooperation allowing for a determination of whether there was any functional relationship between the suspected reactor construction project at Al-Kibar and three other suspect sites.

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