WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- The secretive nuclear program in violence-wracked Syria should be investigated further by international regulators, the United States and European Union say.
The allies have been lobbying the International Atomic Energy Agency to step up pressure on Damascus to disclose its nuclear history and plans, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The renewed push would place more pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been battling anti-government protesters for three months and is resisting calls to step down.
The U.S. and EU calls for the IAEA to ramp up demands for atomic disclosure focus largely on the Dair Alzour nuclear plant in eastern Syria that was destroyed by Israeli bombings in 2007, officials said. U.S. intelligence agencies said it appeared the plant was designed to produce bomb-grade plutonium and was nearly completed when it was bombed. There are three other nuclear sites the IAEA has been denied access to in the past.
"We're looking to increasingly isolate Assad," said a European official who asked not to be identified.
The IAEA's quarterly report is due out next month and if it indicates the bombed-out site was likely a reactor, it would give the United States and European allies enough evidence to refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council, the Journal said.