Diplomats say Syria has blocked new visit by IAEA

The Associated Press
Saturday, August 9, 2008; 5:16 AM

VIENNA, Austria -- Diplomats say Syria has blocked a new visit by International Atomic Energy Agency experts investigating allegations that Damascus has a secret nuclear program.

The diplomats say the request for a follow-up visit to one in June was rejected late last month.

They also tell The Associated Press that Washington is lobbying IAEA board members to oppose a Syrian push for a seat on the 35-nation board. The board normally makes decisions by consensus and a seat held by Damascus could thus hamper any investigation into its alleged nuclear activities.

Lack of IAEA access could cripple chances of establishing whether Damascus hid a North-Korean built nuclear program, including a nearly completed plutonium-producing reactor bombed last year by Israel.

The diplomats spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because they were discussing confidential information.

© 2008 The Associated Press