The US intelligence community is trying to sort out information suggesting that Syria might be enriching uranium on behalf of Iran. The information is coming in mostly from the Israelis and from various Iranian dissident groups, some of which act as surrogates for Israel, but an effort appears to be underway to implicate Damascus in a broader proliferation scheme involving both Iran and North Korea. What the political objective would be is not completely clear, unless an attempt is being made to depict Syria as a pariah nation to torpedo any possible negotiations over the Golan Heights.
The allegations are based on last week’s IAEA report that said that traces of uranium were found in Syria’s Miniature Source Nuclear Reactor, a reactor that had not been declared by the Syrian government as part of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to which Syria is a signatory. The small reactor, located in Damascus, was obtained from the Chinese government. The traces have suggested to some intelligence analysts that Syria was acting to expand uranium enrichment on behalf of Iran, though there is no evidence to suggest that Damascus would have any interest in doing so. There would also be technical problems as the research reactor has only limited capabilities. Tehran has not taken the political decision to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level but it has its own uranium ore resources and it presumably would be a lot easier to set up a secret facility somewhere inside Iran itself if there were any intention to circumvent the IAEA inspectors.