The Syrian government is considering launching a nuclear program to end the country’s energy concerns, but is not in the midst of any such program, the country’s deputy petroleum minister, Dr. Hasan Zeinab, told The Media Line on Wednesday.
The denial follows a report in the Kuwaiti daily A-Siyasa, which alleges that Iranian and Iraqi nuclear scientists are already in Syria, supervising an ongoing nuclear program.
"We don’t have until now any nuclear program, nor do we have any idea to develop any such program," Zeinab said. He added that he personally hoped his country would develop such a program, because the future of energy in Syria presented "a very big problem."
From time to time, Syrian opposition groups have alleged Damascus was already well down the road of developing a nuclear program. In May 2004 the opposition Reform Party of Syria reported that there was a growing concern in the Bush administration that Syria was pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons development program. It added that the administration suspected Syria already had, at that stage, centrifuges, which could purify uranium for use in bombs.
More recently, however, A-Siyasa reported that British security sources had revealed that the Syrian president’s brother, Col. Mahir Al-Asad, had been heading a Syrian nuclear program since the end of 2004. The sources added that the program was being supervised by nuclear scientists from Iraq, Iran and some Islamic republics from the former Soviet Union, and that the program had reached its middle stages.
The Syrian nuclear program relies on equipment, components and substances that the two sons of the ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had smuggled into Syria in dozens of civil trucks and trains, before and after the American-British invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the report added.
Pakistan, Iran, India and Israel already have nuclear reactors. Last week Egypt announced it would have an operational nuclear reactor in 10 years. The trend to go nuclear in the Middle East is not isolated, as many capitals around the world are considering either expanding existing nuclear programs or commencing work on nuclear technology.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email