Israel Had `No Business’ Bombing Syria, UN Nuclear Chief Says

Israel Had `No Business’ Bombing Syria, UN Nuclear Chief Says
By Lorraine Woellert

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) — Israel had “no business” bombing Syria and lacks “any evidence at all” that its target was a nuclear facility, the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency said.

Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog group, called the Sept. 6 raid “very distressful” and a violation of UN rules that require member nations to alert investigators if there is evidence of nuclear activity.

“To bomb first and then ask questions later, I think it undermines the system and it doesn’t lead to any solution,” ElBaradei said on CNN’s “Late Edition” program.

Israeli officials have indirectly acknowledged the raid, while refusing to discuss the details. North Korea denied newspaper reports that it might be helping Syria build a nuclear plant. Satellite photographs taken of the site since the attack show it cleared of all debris.

Syrian officials told ElBaradei that the cluster of buildings targeted by the Israeli air force was a “military facility,” and has “nothing to do with nuclear,” the IAEA chief said.

Israel has provided no evidence to support a claim that the buildings hit were connected to a nuclear program. The UN has purchased its own commercial satellite images of the site and is studying them, ElBaradei said.

“Until today, we have not received information about nuclear-related activities, clandestine nuclear-related activities in Syria,” ElBaradei said.

The Israeli air attack was aimed at a partly built atomic reactor site to demonstrate Israel’s unwillingness to allow neighboring Syria to possess nuclear weapons, the New York Times reported Oct. 13, citing unidentified U.S. and foreign officials with access to intelligence reports. President George W. Bush and members of his administration have refused to confirm whether the bombing took place or whether the U.S. was consulted beforehand.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net .

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