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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

27 January 2003

ElBaradei Says IAEA Needs More Time to Complete Iraqi Inspections

(Director general's report to U.N. Security Council) (2800)
United Nations -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has
found "no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program,"
but IAEA's work is continuing and "should be allowed to run its
natural course," Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA director general, told the
U.N. Security Council January 27.
As required by council resolution 1441, ElBaradei reported on the
status of nuclear inspections 60 days after the start of the nuclear
verification activities in Iraq. He discussed what methods IAEA was
using, specific results, degree of Iraqi cooperation, and how he
intends to proceed.
Barring exceptional circumstances, IAEA should be able to provide
credible assurance within the next few months that Iraq has no nuclear
weapons program, he said.
He pointed out that IAEA's conclusion by December 1998, when
inspection activities halted, was that the agency was "confident that
we have not missed any significant component of Iraq's nuclear
program." IAEA's work is now in the "investigate phase" to determine
what, if anything, occurred in the four years that the inspectors were
not in the country.
In the past two months "we have made good progress in our knowledge of
Iraq's nuclear capabilities" with a total of 139 inspections at some
106 industrial facilities, research centers and universities,
ElBaradei said.
ElBaradei emphasized the need for Baghdad "to shift from passive
support -- that is, responding as needed to inspectors' requests -- to
proactive support -- that is, voluntarily assisting inspectors by
providing documentation, people and other evidence that will assist in
filling in the remaining gaps in our information."
Iraq's declaration to IAEA on December 7 did not provide any new
information or answer outstanding questions, especially related to
weapons design and centrifuge development prior to 1991, he noted.
Unified and unequivocal Security Council support also is essential to
continue the inspections, ElBaradei said.
ElBaradei also said that:
-- the refusal of Iraqi scientists to be interviewed in private has
been restricting;
-- no prohibited nuclear activities have been found during
-- what Iraq did with the high explosive HMX after 1998 needs to be
investigated further;
-- reports of Iraqi efforts to import uranium after 1991 still remain
to be investigated; and
-- Iraq acquired high-strength aluminum tubes in contravention of U.N.
Following is the text of ElBaradei's report:
(begin text)
The Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq
By IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
For the past 60 days, the inspectors of the International Atomic
Energy Agency have been engaged in the process of verifying the
existence or absence of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq. Today,
pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 1441, I have submitted to the
President of the Security Council an update report on our progress
since we resumed our nuclear verification activities in Iraq -- in
terms of the approach we have adopted, the tools we have used, the
specific results achieved, the degree of co-operation we have
received, and finally our view on how we should proceed. Let me in
this statement outline the key aspects of this report.
Background: Understanding the Starting Point
To understand the approach of the IAEA's inspection over the past two
months, it is important first to recall what was accomplished during
our inspections from 1991 to 1998, in fulfilment of our Security
Council mandate to eliminate Iraq's nuclear weapons programme. In
September 1991, the IAEA seized documents in Iraq that demonstrated
the extent of its nuclear weapons programme. By the end of 1992, we
had largely destroyed, removed or rendered harmless all Iraqi
facilities and equipment relevant to nuclear weapons production. We
confiscated Iraq's nuclear-weapons-usable material -- high enriched
uranium and plutonium -- and by early 1994 we had removed it from the
country. By December 1998 -- when the inspections were brought to a
halt with a military strike imminent -- we were confident that we had
not missed any significant component of Iraq's nuclear programme.
While we did not claim absolute certainty, our conclusion at that time
was that we had neutralized Iraq's nuclear weapons programme and that
there were no indications that Iraq retained any physical capability
to produce weapon-usable nuclear material.
During the intervening four years of our absence from Iraq, we
continued our analytical work to the best of our ability, using
satellite imagery and other information. But no remote analysis can
replace on-site inspection -- and we were therefore not able to reach
any conclusions about Iraq's compliance with its Security Council
obligations in the nuclear field after December 1998.
Conduct of Inspections to Date
Against this backdrop, when Iraq agreed last September to re-open its
doors to inspection, and following the subsequent adoption by the
Security Council of resolution 1441, which strengthened the IAEA's
authority and the inspection process, the first goal of our inspection
activities was "reconnaissance". In this phase, we sought to
re-establish rapidly our knowledge base of Iraq's nuclear
capabilities, to ensure that key facilities had not been re-opened, to
verify the location of nuclear material and relevant non-nuclear
material, and to identify and begin interviewing key Iraqi personnel.
Over these first two months of inspection, we have made good progress
in our knowledge of Iraq's nuclear capabilities, with a total of 139
inspections at some 106 locations to date. The bulk of these
inspections have taken place at State-run or private industrial
facilities, research centres and universities -- either at locations
where Iraq's significant technical capabilities were known to have
existed in the past, or at new locations suggested by remote
monitoring and analysis. All inspection activities have been carried
out without prior notification to Iraq, except where notification was
needed to ensure the availability of required support. IAEA inspectors
have taken -- and will continue to take -- full advantage of the
inspection authority granted by resolution 1441. In doing so, the
inspectors have been instructed to make every effort to conduct their
activities with appropriate professionalism and sensitivity.
While we are continuing to some extent with this reconnaissance work,
our inspections are now well into the "investigative" phase -- with
particular emphasis on determining what, if anything, has occurred in
Iraq over the past four years relevant to the re-establishment of
nuclear capabilities. These investigative inspections focus on areas
of concern identified by other States, facilities identified through
satellite imagery as having been modified or constructed since 1998,
and other inspection leads identified independently by the IAEA.
In parallel with these inspection activities, the IAEA has been
conducting exhaustive analysis of supporting information obtained from
various sources. In this context, we have integrated the new
information submitted by Iraq - including the declaration submitted on
7 December in response to resolution 1441 -- with the records we had
accumulated between 1991 and 1998 and the additional information we
had compiled through remote monitoring since 1998. The Iraqi
declaration was consistent with our existing understanding of Iraq's
pre-1991 nuclear programme; however, it did not provide any new
information relevant to certain questions that have been outstanding
since 1998 -- in particular regarding Iraq's progress prior to 1991
related to weapons design and centrifuge development. While these
questions do not constitute unresolved disarmament issues, they
nevertheless need further clarification.
In addition to onsite inspection and offsite analysis, IAEA inspectors
have employed a variety of tools to accomplish their mission. Taking
advantage of the "signature" of radioactive materials, we have resumed
the monitoring of Iraq's rivers, canals and lakes to detect the
presence of certain radioisotopes. A broad variety of environmental
samples and surface swipe samples have been collected from locations
across Iraq and taken to IAEA laboratories for analysis. And we have
re-instituted routine car-borne and hand-held gamma surveys for the
detection of undeclared nuclear material.
The inspectors have also conducted a great number of interviews of
Iraqi scientists, managers and technicians - primarily in the
workplace in the course of unannounced inspections -- as a valuable
source of information about past and present programmes and
activities. The information gained has been helpful in assessing the
completeness and accuracy of Iraq's declarations.
Resolution 1441 also clearly gave to the IAEA and UNMOVIC the
authority to determine the modalities and venues for conducting
interviews with Iraqi officials and other persons. The first two
individuals whom the IAEA requested to see privately declined to be
interviewed without the presence of an Iraqi Government
representative. This has been a restricting factor. Although the Iraqi
Government recently committed itself to encouraging Iraqi officials
and other personnel to be interviewed in private when requested,
regrettably the third request, two days ago, for a private interview
was again turned down by the interviewee.
The IAEA will continue to determine the modalities and locations of
the interviews, including the possibility of interviewing Iraqi
personnel abroad. We will continue to report to the Security Council
on our efforts to conduct interviews according to our preferred
modalities and venues, and our degree of success in that regard.
Findings of Inspections to Date
Let me summarize briefly a number of the findings that have resulted
from our inspection activities thus far.
First, we have inspected all of those buildings and facilities that
were identified, through satellite imagery, as having been modified or
constructed over the past four years. IAEA inspectors have been able
to gain ready access and to clarify the nature of the activities
currently being conducted in these facilities. No prohibited nuclear
activities have been identified during these inspections.
A particular issue of focus has been the attempted procurement by Iraq
of high strength aluminium tubes, and the question of whether these
tubes, if acquired, could be used for the manufacture of nuclear
centrifuges. Iraqi authorities have indicated that their unsuccessful
attempts to procure the aluminium tubes related to a programme to
reverse engineer conventional rockets. To verify this information,
IAEA inspectors have inspected the relevant rocket production and
storage sites, taken tube samples, interviewed relevant Iraqi
personnel, and reviewed procurement contracts and related documents.
From our analysis to date it appears that the aluminium tubes would be
consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would
not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges; however, we are still
investigating this issue. It is clear, however, that the attempt to
acquire such tubes is prohibited under Security Council resolution
Another area of focus has been to determine how certain other "dual
use" materials have been relocated or used -- that is, materials that
could be used in nuclear weapons production but also have other
legitimate uses. A good example is the Iraqi declaration concerning
the high explosive "HMX" -- which states that, out of the HMX under
IAEA seals in Iraq at the end of 1998, some had been supplied to
cement plants as an industrial explosive for mining. The whereabouts
and final use of the removed material are matters that will require
further investigation -- although it will be difficult to verify the
disposition of the HMX that is declared to have been used.
A fourth focal point has been the investigation of reports of Iraqi
efforts to import uranium after 1991. The Iraqi authorities have
denied any such attempts. The IAEA will continue to pursue this issue.
At this stage, however, we do not have enough information, and we
would appreciate receiving more.
We are also making progress on a number of other issues related, for
example, to the attempted importation of a magnet production facility.
Moving Forward
Need for Continued Unified Support from the Security Council
In addition to the new authorities granted by resolution 1441, I
believe that the unified resolve of the Council to support the
inspection process has been a vital ingredient, and must remain so, if
we are to achieve a peaceful resolution of the situation in Iraq. I
trust that the Council would continue its unified and unequivocal
support for the inspection process in Iraq.
Over the next several months, inspections will focus ever more closely
on follow-up of specific concerns, as we continue to conduct visits to
sites and interviews with key Iraqi personnel. We have begun
helicopter operations, which increase the inspectors' mobility and
their ability to respond rapidly to new information, and allow
wide-scale radiation detection surveys. Laboratory analysis of
environmental samples is continuing, and we will be re-installing air
samplers for wide-area environmental monitoring. We also will
re-introduce surveillance systems with video cameras in key locations
to allow near-real-time remote monitoring of dual-use equipment.
Need for Actionable Information from Other States
By its very nature, the inspection process, both in Iraq and
elsewhere, is not based on "trust", but on a thorough process of fact
finding, supported by access to all available information. Where
applicable, this should include information available to States that
may be relevant to the purpose of the inspection. We have begun in the
last few weeks to receive more actionable information from States --
that is, information of direct and current value for inspection
follow-up. I would continue to call on States that have access to such
information to provide it to the inspecting organizations, so that the
inspection process can be accelerated and additional assurances can be
Need for Additional Co-operation by Iraq
Finally, we have urged Iraq once again to increase the degree of its
co-operation with the inspection process. In support of the IAEA
inspections to date, the Iraqi authorities have provided access to all
facilities visited - including presidential compounds and private
residences - without conditions and without delay. The Iraqi
authorities also have been co-operative in making available additional
original documentation, in response to requests by IAEA inspectors.
In our discussions with Iraqi officials last week in Baghdad, we
emphasized the need to shift from passive support -- that is,
responding as needed to inspectors' requests -- to proactive support
-- that is, voluntarily assisting inspectors by providing
documentation, people and other evidence that will assist in filling
in the remaining gaps in our information.
One example of how Iraq could be more proactive was illustrated by the
inspection of a private residence just two weeks ago, which resulted
in the retrieval of a sizeable number of documents, some of which were
classified, and related, in part, to Iraq's pre-1991 efforts to use
laser technology for enriching uranium. While these documents do not
appear to reflect new or current activity related to nuclear weapons
in Iraq, they may enhance our detailed understanding of certain
aspects of Iraq's pre-1991 nuclear programme. It is urgent and
essential therefore that Iraq, on its own initiative, identify and
provide any additional evidence that would assist the inspectors in
carrying out their mandate.
This proactive engagement on the part of Iraq would be in its own best
interest and is a window of opportunity that may not remain open for
very much longer. Iraq should make every effort to be fully
transparent -- with a demonstrated willingness to resolve issues
rather than requiring pressure to do so. The international community
will not be satisfied when questions remain open with regard to Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction; the world is asking for a high level of
assurance that Iraq is completely free from all such weapons, and is
already impatient to receive it. The sooner such assurance can be
provided by the inspecting organizations, the sooner the prospects of
a peaceful resolution will translate into a plausible reality.
The Value of Inspections
Inspections are time consuming but, if successful, can ensure
disarmament through peaceful means. It is worth recalling that, in our
past experience in Iraq, the elimination of its nuclear weapons
programme was mostly accomplished through intrusive inspections. It is
also worth recalling that the presence of international inspectors in
Iraq today continues to serve as an effective deterrent to and
insurance against resumption of programmes to develop weapons of mass
destruction, even as we continue to look for possible past activities.
To conclude: we have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived
its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme
in the 1990s. However, our work is steadily progressing and should be
allowed to run its natural course. With our verification system now in
place, barring exceptional circumstances, and provided there is
sustained proactive cooperation by Iraq, we should be able within the
next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear
weapons programme. These few months would be a valuable investment in
peace because they could help us avoid a war. We trust that we will
continue to have your support as we make every effort to verify Iraq's
nuclear disarmament through peaceful means, and to demonstrate that
the inspection process can and does work, as a central feature of the
international nuclear arms control regime.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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