World Bulletin/News Desk
The United States accused Syria on Friday of using the "brutal repression" of its people waging an uprising as an excuse not to address U.N. nuclear watchdog concerns about suspected past illicit nuclear activity in the Arab state.
For its part, Syria insisted at a debate of the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had agreed last year with the IAEA on how to handle the issue. This was denied on Monday by the IAEA chief in a speech to the board.
The IAEA has long sought access to a site in Syria's desert Deir al-Zor region that U.S. intelligence reports say was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor designed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons before Israel bombed it in 2007.
The Vienna-based watchdog has also been requesting information about three other sites that may have been linked to Deir al-Zor.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said earlier this year that Syria had asked for understanding of its "delicate situation" in response to requests for Syrian cooperation with his inspectors' inquiry.
President Bashar al-Assad is fighting a 17-month-old revolt in which more than 27,000 people have been killed.
U.S. IAEA envoy Robert Wood said Syria's "own destabilising actions are no justification for its refusal" to abide by its commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), set up to prevent the spread of atomic weaponry.
"The Assad regime is using its brutal repression of the Syrian people as an excuse for not cooperating with the agency's investigation," he told the closed-door board governors' session, according to a copy of his speech.
Syria says Deir al-Zor was a conventional military facility but the IAEA concluded in May 2011 that it was "very likely" to have been a reactor that should have been declared to its anti-proliferation inspectors.
"Syria must allow access to all relevant locations, materials and persons, including in particular the three additional sites suspected of having a functional relationship to the clandestine Deir al-Zor," Wood said.
Syrian Ambassador Bassam Al-Sabbagh repeated his country's position that Deir al-Zor was not a nuclear reactor and said an agreement had been reached with senior IAEA officials last October on an action plan on how to clarify the matter.
According to one diplomat present, Al-Sabbagh told the board that if Syria could convince the IAEA that Deir al-Zor was a non-nuclear facility then the issue of the three other sites was "moot".
Amano, the IAEA director-general, did not respond at Friday's board session, but on Monday he told the opening day of the week-long board meeting: "I wish to make clear that no agreement was ever reached on a so-called action plan."
The veteran Japanese diplomat later told a news conference that "some options" had been discussed during the IAEA team's visit to Damascus last year but that they were rejected after a careful review by the IAEA.
"It was not sufficient because the so-called action plan is limited only to the Deir al-Zor site and Syria was not ready to discuss other locations," Amano said.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of mostly developing states said in a statement read out by Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh that it welcomed "Syria's resolve to continue cooperating" with the IAEA.
Egypt has summoned its envoy to Pakistan after Pakistan criticized the death sentences of former President Mohamed Morsi.
PKK and Iranian govt sign an agreement that PKK has suspended military operations inside Iran; in return, Iranian govt will support PKK especially in Iraq.
Oman and Iran have signed an agreement to set boundaries between their shared boundaries in the Sea of Oman.
A Pakistani military official says raids by security forces in the port city of Karachi have killed seven gunmen
The trial of the Washington Post's Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian, to open in Iran on Tuesday, a senior judicial official said.
Saudi-led jets have struck the home of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa.
The UN has urged Lebanon to choose a president, a position that has been vacant since May 2014.
The Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has denounced the infighting between Kurdish fighters as 'suicide'.
A Cairo-hosted conference for Libyan tribes is scheduled to be held in the Egyptian capital from Monday through Wednesday
This is the first time pro-Muslim Brotherhood figures from Libya will attend a meeting in Cairo
A delegation from Egypt's Foreign Ministry had received the tribal leaders at the airport.
Turkey and the United States have agreed on a deal to provide air support for some forces on the Syrian opposition.
The Egyptian army has destroyed 521 entry points to the underground tunnels that border the Gaza strip.
Mohamed al-Falahgi, a former lawmaker and member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, died in Gamasa prison. Al-Falahgi was arrested on violence-related charges in August of 2013
The group had captured the hilltops of Quba'a and Naqar in Syria's southwestern Quinetra province