DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria denied on Wednesday media reports suggesting that its UN envoy had said a nuclear site was hit in an Israeli air strike last month, insisting there was no such facility on its soil.
"The ministry denies media reports that Syria's ambassador in New York had said the September 6 raid targeted a nuclear plant because no such facility exists in Syria," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Syria has already made this clear in the past," it added.
The denial from Damascus came after Israeli media reports said that a Syrian representative to the United Nations had made the remarks at a meeting of a UN committee in New York.
According to a transcript of the meeting on the UN website, the Syrian official made the comments in a statement in which he accused Israel of preparing itself "in nuclear terms" for a possible war.
"Moreover, Israel was the fourth largest exporter of weapons of mass destruction and a violator of other nations' airspace
and it had taken action against nuclear facilities , including the 6 July attack against Syria," the transcript said he told the committee.
The air raid in the northeast of the country was, in fact, on September 6, not July 6.
According to a New York Times report on Sunday, Israeli warplanes bombed a site that Israeli and US intelligence believe was a partly built nuclear reactor possibly modelled after one in North Korea.
Citing unnamed US and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports, the report said it appeared Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project.
The facility that the Israelis struck in Syria appears to have been much further from completion than the Osirak nuclear reactor that Israel destroyed in Iraq in 1981, the paper said.
But the UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday it had no information about any "undeclared nuclear facility in Syria" and that it was investigating the media reports.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, who is currently in Turkey, has said only that the target was an "unused military building" and that the bombs hit "nothing of consequence."
In Israel, the raid has been shrouded in secrecy and information restricted to few officials. Israeli media has been allowed to publish only the fact that a raid occurred without comment from Israeli officials.
(I cut and pasted this something I never do because yahoo stories tend to disappear after some time).