VIENNA, Austria - The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said yesterday that it had no information to support a recent media report that Syria may be building a nuclear reactor, but it said it expected any country that had details to share them with the agency.
"We would obviously investigate any relevant information coming our way," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
In what appeared to be an indirect rebuke to the United States, Fleming said in a statement that the nuclear agency "expects any country having information about nuclear-related activities in another country to provide that information to the IAEA."
The New York Times, citing U.S. and foreign officials, reported Sunday that an Israeli air strike on Syria last month targeted a partially built nuclear reactor that was years from completion.
It said the reactor was modeled on one North Korea had used to create its stockpile of nuclear-weapons fuel, though the role of any North Korean assistance in building it remained unclear. North Korea has denied involvement in any such activities in Syria.
Satellite photos detected the partly constructed Syrian reactor earlier this year, the Times said, citing U.S. officials.
The Syrian reactor was years from being able to produce spent nuclear fuel that could be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium, the newspaper said.
Fleming said the IAEA was in contact with Syrian authorities to verify the authenticity of the report.
Syria's nuclear program has long been considered minimal, and the country is known to have only a small research reactor.