Assad: We rejected nukes in ’01

Bashar Assad said Syria decided against buying black-market nuclear materials in 2001.

The Syrian president said in an interview published Wednesday that in 2001, his regime was approached by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s atomic architect, who offered in a letter to sell Damascus nuclear missiles.

“We do not know if the letter was authentic or if it was an Israeli trap,” Assad told Austria’s Die Presse newspaper. “Anyway, we rejected the offer. We are interested neither in nuclear weapons nor a nuclear facility, and I never met Khan.”

Syria has been under intense foreign scrutiny since a mysterious Israeli airstrike on its territory Sept. 6 stirred speculation that a nascent nuclear reactor had been bombed.

Assad has denied Syria had any such project, saying the target of the Israeli installation was an unfinished military building.

“Since it was a military installation, I cannot go into more details, but don’t come to the conclusion that it was a nuclear facility,” he said in the interview.

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