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Obama ignoring Syrian nukes, lawmaker says

Feb. 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- It is "dangerous" for Washington to ignore the nuclear threat from Damascus, a top U.S. foreign affairs official said amid allegations of a new site in Syria.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement she was "gravely concerned" about evidence emerging that indicates Syria may have additional nuclear sites in the country.

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford presented his credentials to Syrian President Bashar Assad in January. U.S. Republican lawmakers protested the Ford nomination in part because of Syria's alleged role regarding Hezbollah and Scud missiles in Lebanon.

Commercial satellite imagery published Wednesday by Washington's Institute for Science and International Security shows what appears to be a suspected nuclear site near Damascus, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Israeli jets bombed the Dair Alzour facility near al-Kibar in Syria in 2007. Intelligence officials said the site was a nuclear reactor of North Korean design under construction since 2001.

IAEA inspectors found traces of uranium that went undisclosed by Damascus, though it was unclear if the uranium was from Dair Alzour.

"It is dangerous that the administration continues to ignore Syria's threatening behavior and policies, and instead makes concessions to Damascus such as the recent appointment of a U.S. ambassador," Ros-Lehtinen said.

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