Briefing by the IAEA
Tomorrow (14 July) the Council will be briefed by an official from the IAEA on the Syrian nuclear issue. On 9 June in Vienna the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution expressing “serious concern” over “Syria’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA Director General’s repeated requests for access to additional information and locations as well as Syria’s refusal to engage substantively with the Agency on the nature of the Dair Alzour site” and referring Syria to the Security Council.
While Council members are willing to have this briefing it is not clear that there will be any action taken at this time. China and Russia opposed the referral to the Council in Vienna and are unlikely to want the Council to take any further action. Furthermore, some Council members who have been critical of Syria’s record of cooperation with the IAEA are keen to keep the nuclear proliferation issue quite separate from the political and humanitarian issues in Syria. Council members have for weeks now been discussing a draft resolution on Syria focused on the political and humanitarian aspects of the situation without being able to reach agreement. (Yesterday the Council issued a press statement condemning the Monday attacks on the French and US embassies in Damascus.) It appears that only if the nonproliferation issue can be clearly separated from the other issues would a statement following tomorrow’s briefing be likely.
It seems that several practical considerations might also lessen the chance of immediate Council action. The facility that is the subject of the IAEA referral was destroyed some years ago, thus lessening the need to address it immediately. Also some members may want to give Syria time to make good on its recent statement that it is willing to be more cooperative with the IAEA.