Syrian attack on Israel at nuclear conference

Syrian president Bashar Assad

Syrian president Bashar Assad

Syria has claimed Israel represents a "grave and serious threat" at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The accusation, about Israel's nuclear capabilities, was made by Syrian delegate Bassam al-Sabbagh.

But according to another delegate present, comments made by other Arab nations were less hostile towards Israel than on previous occasions.

Iran, which earlier this month was accused of conducting secret research and development of nuclear weapons by the IAEA, boycotted Monday's meeting.

Syria's criticism of Israel came after Israel's defence minister predicted that Bashar Assad would lose his presidency within a year.

Ehud Barak told CNN that the Syrian leader was "on a slippery slope" with his violent crackdown on anti-government protests. "He cannot climb back," he said.

Last updated: 11:14am, November 22 2011