Argentina Denies Attempt to Sell Syria Nuclear Reactor

Argentina has denied trying to sell a nuclear reactor to Syria after Israeli media reported that such a deal was in the making.

According to a wire service report, an unidentified source in the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires said Tuesday that a 1992 law forbade nuclear sales to countries with which Argentina did not have a nuclear cooperation treaty specifying what could be sold.

On Monday, a letter from the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center was hand-delivered to Argentine Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella, expressing concern about reports that his government was considering the sale to Syria of a 5 megawatt research reactor fueled by enriched uranium.

The Buenos Aires denial was less than categorical. For one, the same unidentified source acknowledged that talks about possible nuclear exports to Syria had taken place in the early 1990s, before passage of the 1992 law.

In addition, the source speculated that if Argentina were to sign a nuclear cooperation treaty with Damascus in the future, Argentina would analyze what sort of exports could be made in line with the development of peace in the region.

Di Tella is scheduled to visit Israel soon, and it is believed that the question of Argentine-Syrian nuclear relations would be raised at that time.

But the mere fact that Syria has been shopping for nuclear know-how and equipment “is not a good sign for current negotiations between Israel and Syria,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal center.

The ambiguity of the reported Argentine response shows “that a lot more explaining has to be done,” Cooper added.

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