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United Nations investigators have found traces of uranium at a Syrian site Israel bombed in September 2007, diplomats accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday. Washington says the site was a secret nuclear reactor, and the diplomats said the minute uranium particles turned up in some environmental swipe samples UN inspectors took at the site in a visit last June. They added the finding was not enough to draw conclusions but raised concerns requiring further clarification.

The IAEA and Syria had no immediate comment. However, word of the finding leaked hours after IAEA officials confirmed IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei was, for the first time, preparing a formal written report on Syria.

Moreover, Syria has been made an official item on the agenda at the year-end meeting of the UN watchdog's 35-nation board of governors.

Syria denies U.S. intelligence alleging it was building a reactor with North Korean expertise meant to make plutonium, the main atomic bomb ingredient reprocessed from spent uranium fuel. Damascus says the unverified intelligence was fabricated.