Syrian regime under pressure on two fronts
The UN nuclear watchdog recommended Syria be brought before the UN Security Council for failing to provide information on a covert nuclear reactor.
The Dair Alzour facility was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in September 2007. The IAEA said it suspected that it was a nuclear reactor under construction which Damascus had failed to report. Syria denied the allegations and said that radioactive uranium isotopes found by an IAEA inspection in 2008 contaminated the site after the bombing.
On Thursday, a majority of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) voting members supported the recommendation made by Washington and 12 of its allies.
Seventeen states voted for passing it on from the IAEA to the Security Council. Six voted against, including Russia and China.
The IAEA’s recommendation follows previous efforts by the West against Syria.
On Wednesday, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal handed the UN Security Council a draft resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown, despite the likelihood of a veto by Russia and China.
On Thursday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, poured oil on the flame, saying that her office has received reports that 1,100 men, women and children have been killed since March, and that some 10,000 people have been detained.
She called on neighboring countries, in particular Turkey, to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing Syria.
Russia, as well as China, strongly opposes any UN resolution condemning Syria for the brutal crackdown on protesters.
The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, has previously said that he believes that diplomacy, and not force, should be used for solving political problems.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said on Thursday that Moscow believes that Syrians must settle their internal conflict without any foreign interference.
“In our opinion, the situation in this country is not posing any threat to peace and security around the world," he said.
Lukashevich also pointed out that the international community should give Syria more time for reforms.
"Syria’s authorities have taken a number of important steps to implement the reforms they announced earlier,” he said. “We should give them more time for that implementation.”
John Laughland from the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation says that by getting the UN resolution against Syria, the Western powers are trying to “enlarge the room for maneuver”.
“The resolution I am sure will, if it passed, give them grounds for justifying an attack,” Laughland said. “On the other hand, one of the purposes of that may be to keep the Syrians guessing… the Western powers may be trying to make the Syrians think that they are about to attack. That is a way of putting pressure on the Syrian regime.”
Laughland said that he thinks that the Russian government greatly regrets not having vetoed the resolution on Libya. And now it is reluctant to get involved, he said, for “the second time in the same situation.”
“As far as Russia is concerned, I think that the Russian government greatly regrets not having vetoed the resolution on Libya – which, as we all can see, was immediately exploited to go way beyond the terms laid down in the resolution,” Laughland said. “I mean by that, that the Western powers immediately started to attack the Libyan government. They launched a war whose goal is regime change.”