A report on the uranium traces found at a Syrian site bombed by Israel is not sufficient evidence of undeclared nuclear activity, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said in Dubai on Monday.
"We won't be able to reach a quick conclusion unless we have credible information," International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei told a news conference in Dubai.
"There was uranium but it does not mean there was a reactor," he said.
The IAEA inquiry was spurred by U.S. intelligence that the site was a secret nuclear reactor Syria had almost completed when it was reduced to rubble by an Israeli air raid last year.
Israel has kept silent on what it targeted. Syria said the site was a disused military building. "We have certainly nothing to hide," Syrian presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told CNN later when asked about ElBaradei's remarks.
ElBaradei said the uranium particles were not highly enriched -- the type used to fuel atomic bombs. "It could have come in so many different ways .... We are looking at so many different scenarios," he said.
Both Syria and Israel should do more to help the IAEA's investigation, he said. "We need cooperation from Syria; we need cooperation from Israel. I would still like more transparency from the Syrians."
Diplomats monitoring the IAEA in Vienna told Reuters a week ago that particles of uranium had been retrieved from samples taken by IAEA inspectors from the site in June.
Origin of Uranium traces
They said the traces appeared to be of a processed form of uranium, possibly at the stage at which it would be loaded into a reactor for enrichment as fuel for civilian energy or for weapons. The origin of the traces was unclear.
"We just need to know what is the source of this low-level, or man-made uranium," ElBaradei told a CNN interviewer.
"It could have come in peoples' clothes, for example. It could have come through some nuclear material stored somewhere. It could have come, as Syria says, through the bombings."
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said last week he was stunned by media reports that the IAEA had found secret atomic material on a site bombed by Israel last year.
"Such information hawked by anonymous diplomats even before ... ElBaradei has presented his report have the sole purpose of exerting pressure on Syria," Mouallem said.
What would be helpful for investigators, ElBaradei told CNN, was any satellite imagery of the site taken immediately after the September 2007 bombing, before Syria razed the site and built another building on it.
He suggested some member states should have such pictures and urged them to provide them to the IAEA.
"Now that we showed the sampling to (Syria), I hope they will allow soon another IAEA visit and (to) other sites where we would like to visit," he said. Syria has said it will not permit further IAEA trips to military sites on security grounds.
ElBaradei will issue his first investigative report on Syria later this week. "(It) will say that there is still a lot of work to do. (There will be) no conclusion on whether there was a reactor or not," he told the news conference.
Damascus denies the site was a reactor designed to produce plutonium for atomic bombs and says the U.S. data was forged.