WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) – A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman warned any military intervention in Syria would create a nuclear disaster.
“If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MSNR) near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich stated, according to Russia Today.
Lukashevich said if a military strike were launched without seeking approval from the United Nations Security Council that new suffering for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa would occur. He added that the region could be at risk of “contamination by highly enriched uranium and it would no longer be possible to account for nuclear material, its safety and control.”
He urged the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to complete a risk evaluation carrying out “an analysis of the risks linked to possible American strikes on the MNSR and other facilities in Syria.”
Rueters quoted an IAEA spokesperson stating the agency was aware of the statement, but is waiting for a formal request asking the agency to complete risk evaluation and that the group would consider the questions raised if a request is received.
A Senate panel voted Wednesday to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack.
The vote was 10-7, with one senator voting present. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.
The resolution would permit Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn’t exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations.
The Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, crafted the resolution.
The vote marked the first time lawmakers have voted to authorize military action since the October 2002 votes giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
Now the resolution heads to the full Senate for final approval and the House of Representatives must approve a similar measure if Congress is to authorize the use of force in Syria.
Obama traveled to Sweden on Wednesday ahead of the G20 Summit as he is seeking international support for a military strike against Syria for use of chemical weapons. Obama landed in Stockholm to meet with Swedish Prime Minister John Fredrik Reinfeldt for a press conference on their shared views for international action in Syria.
“When bad stuff happens around the world, the first question is always, ‘What is the United States going to do about it … the real question is: after we go through all this, can we find a reason not to act?”
Obama expressed optimism that Congress would vote to approve his call for military action in Syria, and said that it is not just an American issue, it’s a worldwide concern.
He dodged the question, however, as to what would happen should Congress not approve a strike.
“I believe Congress will approve it. America recognizes that as difficult as it is to take any military actions, even as limited as the one we’re talking about, even without boots on the ground … if the international community fails to maintain certain norms, standards and laws; that over time, this world becomes less safe,” Obama said. “It becomes more dangerous … to all of humanity, and we’ve seen that again and again in history. And the people of Europe are very familiar with what happens when the international community fails to act.”
The Obama administration says 1,429 people died from the attack on Aug. 21 in a Damascus suburb. A U.N. inspection team is awaiting lab results on tissue and soil samples it collected while in the country before completing a closely watched report.