Nuclear Weapon Investigators to Enter Syria

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U.N. inspectors will be allowed to enter Syria this month for what many hope will be more than a feeble attempt to investigate possible nuclear development in the country.

The inspectors will be allowed in nearly a year after an Israeli air strike in the country aroused world suspicions of Syria's nuclear weapons capabilities.

"We would of course encourage them not only to let the inspectors in but to cooperate fully with the inspectors, allow them to do their job ... in order to produce an authoritative report," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"Let's hope that the Syrian efforts haven't been too effective in covering up what it is they are trying to cover up: the nuclear facility reactor," he added.

The Israel Air Force carried out a top-secret mission last September in Syria, bombing what was believed to be the site of a nuclear reactor. Israel and the U.S. believe the country built the suspected reactor with the help of North Korea.

Though Syria has since claimed that the air strike hit one of their military bases, an official in the country previously admitted the attack involved a nuclear build.

"The IDF attacked a nuclear facility and not an agricultural building for soils research, as has been stated thus far," Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria's U.N. ambassador, told the U.N. last year.

The nuclear inspectors will visit the site from June 22-24, International Atomic Energy Agecy Chief Mohamed El Baradei said Monday.

"I should emphasize that Syria... has an obligation to report the planning and construction of any nuclear facility to the agency," he said. "We are therefore treating this information with the seriousness it deserves and have been in discussions with the Syrian authorities since this information was provided."

In April, the Bush administration provided detailed pictures of the site that supported claims of nuclear activity. The images, said to be taken just days after the attack, showed the area had been wiped clean. Some say that's clear evidence of guilt.

"There were people, surely, who worked on that reactor and who have intimate knowledge and can provide the IAEA important information and let's hope that those people not only are made available to the IAEA but are entirely forthcoming," McCormack said.

Though North Korean officials have traveled extensively to Syria, they maintain that they have not provided Syria with nuclear material or expertise.

Sources: CBN News, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press

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