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Syria maintains a nuclear energy program it claims is only for peaceful purposes. It also maintains a ballistic missile program, which is believed to be in response to Israel’s conventional and nuclear capabilities.

In 2004, the European Union (EU) and Syria finalized a trade agreement that requires Syria to work toward the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

On September 6 2007, Israel launched an air strike on Dair Alzour site (also known as Al-Kibar). Both Israel and the United States claimed it was a plutonium reactor, able to produce enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon. As a result of the attack, the IAEA initiated investigations in 2008. The agency discovered traces of undeclared uranium in SRR-1 (Syrian Research Reactor) but could not conclude whether the site was a nuclear reactor. Since the 2008 investigations, Syria has not cooperated with the IAEA. In May 2011, a report from the agency eventually concluded that it is very likely that the building destroyed in 2007 was a nuclear reactor. In June 2011, the IAEA adopted a resolution stating that Syria did not comply with its international obligations according to the NPT safeguards agreement and deferred the case to the UN Security Council.

Despite IAEA inspections carried out in June 2004 concluding that Syria was not involved in Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s network of illicit nuclear transfers, the topic was brought up once more in 2011 when UN investigators identified a previously unknown complex in Syria that bolsters suspicions that the Syrian government worked with Khan. The architectural design of the Al-Hasakah complex, now a cotton-spinning plant, suggests that Syria may have been pursuing two routes to the atomic bomb with uranium as well as plutonium. Syrian officials refused an IAEA inspection of the area.

Currently, the IAEA is studying a request from Syria to help convert an atomic reactor near Damascus to use lower grade nuclear fuel which would be harder to use in bombs.

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