Assessing the potential nuclear dangers of U.S. military intervention in Syria could place the International Atomic Energy Agency in violation of its mandate, Washington’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Monday.
The Vienna, Austria-based organization “must determine whether there is a scientific basis for conducting a highly speculative investigation of this kind,” Ambassador Joseph Macmanus in a statement prepared for delivery at a meeting of the 35-nation IAEA Board of Governors.
Moscow’s push for the analysis brings up a range of concerns tied to statutes, politics and implementation, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said to reporters on Monday. “I hope people understand that [responding] takes time,” he added, noting that Moscow had pushed for a quick answer from his agency.
An attack would risk dispersing highly enriched uranium to the surrounding environment, Russia has warned. The bomb-usable material could not be tracked following an aerial assault, Moscow indicated, possibly alluding to the material’s vulnerability to seizure by nonstate actors.
Amano said Syria’s only known research reactor does not contain a “big amount” of highly enriched uranium, but he added that additional radiological materials could be in storage at multiple Syrian medical and scientific facilities.
Former IAEA safeguards chief Olli Heinonen said the Middle Eastern country “should have substantial amounts” of atomic assets such as radioactive cobalt isotopes.
Such holdings could be “of a greater concern, if they end up in wrong hands,” Heinonen told Reuters by e-mail. “Normally they are stored in protected vaults.”
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"As Donald Trump captures the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee, a new poll finds he begins his general election campaign well behind Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. The new CNN/ORC Poll, completed ahead of Trump's victory last night, found Clinton leads 54% to 41%, a 13-point edge over the New York businessman, her largest lead since last July. Clinton is also more trusted than Trump on many issues voters rank as critically important, with one big exception. By a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy than Clinton would."
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal sets out to relieve conservatives of the temptation to back a third-party candidate over Donald Trump. "The thought is more tempting this year than most, but it’s still hard to see how this would accomplish more than electing Hillary Clinton and muddling the message from a Trump defeat. ... The usual presidential result is that the party that splinters hands the election to the other, more united party." But in the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol is having none of it: "Serious people, including serious conservatives, cannot acquiesce in Donald Trump as their candidate. ... Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. The Wall Street Journal cannot bring itself to say that. We can say it, we do say it, and we are proud to act accordingly."
- Nate Cohn, New York Times: "There have been 10-point shifts over the general election season before, even if it’s uncommon. But there isn’t much of a precedent for huge swings in races with candidates as well known as Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. A majority of Americans may not like her, but they say they’re scared of him."
- Roger Simon, PJ Media: "He is particularly fortunate that his opposition, Hillary Clinton, besides still being under threat of indictment and still not having defeated Bernie Sanders (go figure), is a truly uninspiring, almost soporific, figure. ... She's not a star. Trump is. All attention will be on him in the general election. The primaries have shown us what an advantage that is. What that means for American politics may not all be good, but it's true."
- The editors, The Washington Examiner: "At the very least, Trump owes it to the country he boasts he will 'make great again' to try to demonstrate some seriousness about the office he seeks. He owes this even to those who will never consider voting for him. He can start by swearing off grand displays of aggressive and apparently deliberate ignorance. This is not too much to ask."
Humana announced it plans to "exit certain statewide individual markets and products 'both on and off [Obamacare] exchange,' the insurer said in its financial results released Monday." The company also said price hikes may be forthcoming, "commensurate with anticipated levels of risk by state." Its individual-market enrollment was down 21% in the first quarter from a year ago.