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.
Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev says Kiev's action will not affect payment of wages and pensions.
The businessman, an Indian national, resigned his post of managing director of Galfar Engineering and Contracting after his January conviction and sentence
UAE asked all its citizens working with Qatari media outlets to resign from their jobs immediately, while Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Information has issued a decision banning Saudi writers and columnists from writing for Qatari newspapers
Erdogan said Turkey was prepared to help the international contact group given his country's close relationships with Ukraine and Russia
Obama has said a referendum on Crimea would violate international law and the Ukrainian constitution while Putin defends Crimea's decision to hold referendum
"The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet," said the source
Moussa Abu Marzouq moved to Cairo from Damascus after the popular uprising against Bashar al-Assad.
The source said the nuns had been transferred to the Lebanese town of Arsal earlier in the week and were on their way to Syria
The attacker approached a main checkpoint at a northern entrance to the city and detonated the minibus
Libya's prosecutor-general Abdel-Qadir Radwan on Saturday authorized the use of force against the tanker.
The clash occurred when militants approached the compound in Lawdar town with suicide belts, hand grenades and explosive devices
Jarba urged Arab countries to designate Lebanon's Hezbollah group and ISIL as "terrorist organizations"
Acting Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh said the only troop movements that might be seen would be from one base to another to take part in the training exercises.
Malaysian investigators, assisted by the FBI, are probing the identities of four passengers in particular, two travellers with European passports, possibly Ukrainian, in addition to two travelling on stolen Austrian and Italian passports
The two-day Arab summit meeting will kick off in Kuwait on March 25. Qatar's top diplomat a no-show at Arab FMs meeting afterSaudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha
Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, vice president since 2009, had been a top commander in the Northern Alliance, a group of anti-Taliban militia leaders, during the civil war