JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel accused the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog of bias in its investigation of an alleged nuclear reactor in Syria.
Syria has blocked the International Atomic Energy Agency from investigating the site, which Israel says was a nearly completed nuclear reactor designed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Israel bombed the site in 2007.
IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei has reprimanded Israel for destroying the site before alerting the IAEA and allowing the nuclear watchdog to investigate.
At a meeting of the IAEA board Thursday, Israel’s delegate to the 35-country body, Ambassador Israel Michaeli, accused ElBaradei of continuing to ask Israel to provide more evidence to prove the site was a nuclear reactor. Michaeli also accused the IAEA of refusing to meet with Israel.
"Had the director-general wished for further information from Israel, he would have not refused to meet with Israeli officials and would have refrained from publicly lashing at Israel," Michaeli said during the closed-door meeting, Reuters reported. "Israel calls on ElBaradei to avoid political bias in dealing with the Syrian file."
"You, sir, did not allow us to do what we are supposed to do under international law," ElBaradei retorted, according to Reuters. "You are not even part of the [non-proliferation] regime to tell us what to do. We would appreciate that you stop preaching to us."
Earlier this year the IAEA found traces of uranium at the site that Israel said did not come from its bombs.