VIENNA, Austria – The U.N. nuclear watchdog said Monday it has no information to support a recent media report that Syria may be building a nuclear reactor, but said it expects any country that has details to share them with the agency.
"We would obviously investigate any relevant information coming our way," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA.
In what appeared to be an indirect rebuke to the U.S., Fleming said in a statement that the nuclear agency "expects any country having information about nuclear-related activities in another country to provide that information to the IAEA."
The New York Times, citing U.S. and foreign officials, reported Sunday that an Israeli airstrike on Syria last month targeted a partially built nuclear reactor that was years away from completion.
It said the nuclear reactor was modeled on one North Korea had used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, though the role of any North Korean assistance in building it remained unclear. North Korea has denied involvement in any such activities in Syria.
Satellite photographs detected the partly constructed Syrian reactor earlier this year, the Times said, citing American officials.
The Syrian reactor was years away from being able to produce spent nuclear fuel that could be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium, the newspaper said.
Syria's nuclear program has long been considered minimal, and the country is known to have only a small research reactor.
"The IAEA has no information about any undeclared nuclear facility in Syria and no information about recent reports," Fleming said.
She said the agency was in contact with Syrian authorities to verify the authenticity of the report.