Syria will not allow IAEA to visit 3 suspected nuclear sites

.VIENNA, Austria (AP) – Syria has told fellow Arab countries that it will not permit an International Atomic Energy Agency probe to extend beyond a site bombed by Israel, despite agency interest in three other suspect locations, diplomats told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The agency’s main focus during its planned June 22-24 visit to Syria is a building in the country’s remote eastern desert that was destroyed by Israeli jets in September.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei announced Monday that Damascus has agreed to an agency check of U.S. assertions that target was a plutonium-producing reactor that was near completion, and thus at the stage where it could generate the fissile material for nuclear arms.

The U.N. agency is also interested in following up on information that Syria may have three other undeclared atomic facilities. Diplomats and a nuclear expert told the AP on Monday that at least one of the sites may have equipment that can reprocess nuclear material into the fissile core of warheads.

One of the diplomats said the IAEA was following up on a U.S. intelligence-based tip but emphasized the IAEA had not seen the intelligence itself. The nuclear expert said two of the military sites were operational and one was under construction. He and the diplomats asked for anonymity because their information was confidential.