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Syria agrees to nuclear probe

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  • Syria agrees to allow nuclear inspectors into the country in June
  • IAEA staff will look at a site Israeli warplanes destroyed in last September
  • Syria has denied U.S. claims that it was building a secret nuclear reactor
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(CNN) -- United Nations nuclear inspectors will visit Syria later this month to investigate allegations that the country was building a nuclear reactor at a site attacked by Israel last September, officials said.

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International Atomic Energy Agency's Mohamed ElBaradei says the inspection team will visit Syria in June.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's fact-finding mission will visit Syria from June 22 to 24, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday. But Syria's Information Ministry told CNN it had no details about the upcoming visit.

ElBaradei said the agency has been discussing the matter with Syrian authorities since it learned of the allegations in April, eight months after the Israeli strike.

The purpose of the talks, ElBaradei said, was to arrange "a visit to Syria at an early date to verify, to the extent possible at this stage, the veracity of the information available to the agency.

"Syria, like all states with comprehensive safeguards agreements, has an obligation to report the planning and construction of any nuclear facility to the agency," the IAEA chief said.

Media reports about the Israeli bombing surfaced shortly after the September strike. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the strike in mid-September -- the first Israeli official to do so publicly. The government, which kept the information under censorship until October, roundly criticized Netanyahu for speaking about the incident.

Israeli officials have not commented publicly on what the target of the strike was.

In April, the United States told the IAEA that it believed the facility in Syria was a nuclear reactor. ElBaradei criticized the United States for not telling his agency sooner, but noted that the IAEA would treat the information "with the seriousness it deserves and will investigate the veracity of the information."

The White House said the covert nuclear reactor was hidden from view, would have been capable of producing plutonium and likely was "not intended for peaceful purposes."

The White House also said that it believes North Korea assisted Syria's nuclear activities.

Syria's ambassador to the United States criticized the Bush administration's claims, saying Syria never worked with North Korea on a nuclear program.

"I hope the truth will be revealed to everyone," Imad Moustapha told CNN at the time. "This will be a major embarrassment to the U.S. administration for the second time -- they lied about the Iraqi WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) and they are trying to do it again."

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