Syria Also Admits Plans To
Join The Nuclear Club
Special To World

NICOSIA - Syria acknowledged Wednesday night that it seeks to restore its nuclear program.
The Syrian announcement came hours after Washington disclosed that North Korea has violated an agreement to halt the production of highly-enriched uranium and has several nuclear weapons.
Syria is also a major client of North Korea and last week signed a deal for scientific and technology exchange with Pyongyang. Pyongyang is a leading supplier of missiles and weapons of mass destruction technology to Damascus.
But the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad said the program would be limited to civilian uses. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said on late Wednesday that the purpose of its nuclear program would be for research and medical needs.
In the early 1990s, Syria tried to construct a nuclear reactor with Argentina. U.S. pressure on Buenos Aires halted the deal.
The ministry said Syria was one of the first countries in the Middle East to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1969. The statement said the International Atomic Energy Agency conducted an inspection of nuclear sites in 1995.
Western diplomatic sources said the Syrian announcement is in response to U.S. concern over efforts by Damascus to revive its nuclear program. The sources said the United States has been concerned over negotiations by Syria for the purchase of a Russian nuclear reactor.
North Korea admitted this month that it was producing nuclear weapons material.
"North Korea, for several years, has been trying to enrich uranium, and the only purpose for doing that is to develop nuclear weapons," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Thursday.
"The attempt to enrich uranium for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons is a very serious concern that we have. We've long been concerned about their weapons of mass destruction program. We've also been concerned about their ties to terrorism."
U.S. officials said they were concerned that the North Korean admission meant that Pyongyang will or has exported nuclear technology and material to such states as Iran, Libya and Syria. North Korea has numerous uranium mines.


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