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The U.N. nuclear watchdog voiced doubt as to whether Syria could have operated a secret atomic reactor.

“We have no evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear program. We do not see Syria having nuclear fuel,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamad ElBaradei told Al-Arabiya television Tuesday.

The remarks came as the IAEA prepares to inspect next week a site in northern Syria which was bombed by Israeli warplanes in September. The Bush administration has said the target was a North Korean-designed reactor, something denied by Damascus. Israel has not given details on the raid.

The Egyptian-born ElBaradei, who has criticized Israel for the attack and the United States for not being more forthcoming with its intelligence assessments, said the only evidence the IAEA currently has indicating a possible secret nuclear program in Syria is satellite photographs of the bombed site.

Syrian bulldozers ploughed up the area soon after the sortie in an apparent cover-up. Damascus has refused the IAEA permission to inspect three other suspect Syrian sites.

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