The U.N. nuclear watchdog has discovered traces of "manmade" uranium at a second site in Syria, FOX News has confirmed, causing fresh concern about possible undeclared atomic activity in the Arab state.
The information comes from reports released Friday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and will be taken up at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting set to begin in Vienna on June 15.
The IAEA has been examining U.S. intelligence reports that Syria had almost built a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor meant to yield bomb-grade plutonium before Israel bombed the facility in 2007.
This latest report also confirms that Iran is boldly pursuing its own nuclear program. Iran has expanded the number of centrifuges enriching uranium to almost 5,000, making it harder for U.N. inspectors to keep track of the disputed nuclear program, according to an IAEA report obtained by Reuters.
The IAEA report also said Iran had increased its rate of production of low-enriched uranium material, boosting its stockpile by 500 kg to 1,339 kg in the past six months.
Most Western analysts believe Iran does not yet have the technology to produce nuclear weapons, including warheads for long-range missiles. The U.S. released an intelligence report about 19 months ago that said Iran abandoned a secret nuclear weapons program in 2003 under international pressure and has not restarted it.
Israel and several other countries have disputed the finding, but many in the West at least agree that Iran is seeking to develop the capability to develop weapons at some point. A group of U.S. and Russian scientists said in a report issued Tuesday, May 19, that Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after that.
The study published by the nonpartisan EastWest Institute also said Iran is making advances in rocket technology and could develop a ballistic missile capable of firing a 2,200-pound nuclear warhead up to 1,200 miles "in perhaps six to eight years."
Iran says its missile program is merely for defense and its space program is for scientific and surveillance purposes. It maintains that its nuclear program is for civilian energy uses only.