Syria allowed inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) to inspect its Damascus research reactor but it still barring them from its desert facility bombed in 2007 by the Israelis.
On a June 2008 visit to the Dair Alzour desert site IAEA inspectors discovered traces of uranium, indicating that a reactor may have been in operation. The same uranium traces were found at the Damascus site, suggesting there had been traffic back and forth between the two. The desert reactor is believed to be of a design supplied by North Korea, which used a Combustion Engineering design published during the Atoms for Peace Era of the 1950s to build its own plutonium-producing reactor. The Syrians just recently allowed IAEA officials to re-inspect the Damascus site but are keeping the desert site off-limits.
Meanwhile, President Obama invited 40 nations to attend a summit on the control of underground nuclear material at the White House next week. Although not specified, the effort seems mostly aimed at Iran and its nuclear program. Conservatives have criticized Obama’s effort because it seems to vow that we will not make strikes at nations that are developing nuclear weapons and liberal have criticized it because it does not go far enough in renouncing any first-strike action against North Korea or Iran.
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