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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Inspections in Iraq

Statement of IAEA Director General to IAEA Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

17 July 1991

Mr. Chairman,

Under Resolution 687 (91) of the United Nations Security Council, Iraq was obliged to declare within 15 days of the adoption of the resolution locations, amounts and types of items that were relevant for a nuclear weapons capacity, including "nuclear weapons usable material or any subsystems or components or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities."

This language clearly required the declaration of enriched uranium and plutonium and equipment and material directly relevant for the production thereof, as well as any items needed for the fashioning of nuclear weapons.

The first declaration of Iraq, dated 18 April 1991, stated that Iraq had "no industrial and support facilities related to any form of atomic energy use which have to be declared." In a letter from me the day after, on 19 April, I pointed to the fact that there was highly enriched uranium on the inventory of nuclear material in Iraq under safeguards. This should be declared. I also indicated by way of example of what should be declared under the resolution "facilities for the reprocessing of nuclear fuel or for the separation of plutonium from uranium or installations for the separation of isotopes of uranium, or any research programmes or supporting manufacturing facilities related to such activities." I stated that they should be declared "irrespective of whether they have been damaged or destroyed." A second letter from Iraq, of 27 April, attached a list of safeguarded material and information as to its status and a list of nuclear facilities at Tuwaitha, again with indications of their status. It also listed the yellow cake production unit at Al Qaim.

Thus in neither of the first two communications from Iraq under para. 12 of Security Council Resolution 687 (91) was there any indication of a programme for research on or production of enriched uranium.

IAEA inspections having pointed ever more clearly to the existence of enrichment activities and inspection teams having been denied access on several occasions to sites and objects they wished to inspect, the Security Council requested the Secretary General to send a high level mission to Baghdad to convey the Council's demand that unhindered access should be given to inspection teams to sites and objects they wished to see.

The high level mission, of which I was a member, was conscious of the evidence that inspection teams had found of enrichment activities and expressly urged that an additional declaration should be given and cover whatever items and material there was relating to enrichment or reprocessing. On our side mention was made, by way of example, of calutrons, centrifuges, uranium tetrachloride and hexafluoride. We were assured, however, that there was no enrichment programme. A promise was nevertheless given that lists should be transmitted of items which had been deemed by Iraq as being possibly in contravention of Resolution 687 (91). Such lists were attached to a letter of 7 July 1991 sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations with a copy to me. It disclosed that there had been three programmes for the enrichment of uranium with a great deal of equipment and material related to it, and that a quantity of about half a kilo of 4% enriched uranium had been produced. The letter and the lists are transmitted to the Board in document GOV/2530 of 16 July. An IAEA inspection team, headed by Mr. Perricos has been in Baghdad since 6 July inter alia inspecting items on this list and obtaining supplementary information relating to the programme which had thus been declared. It is welcome that this information is given and that a clearer picture is emerging. Considering the manner in which nuclear related information has been provided, it is not surprising that the world asks whether there is yet more to declare. I should report to the Board that this question remains a dominant preoccupation of the Security Council. As you know Professor Zifferero and I were invited to brief the Council three days ago on 15 July on the work of the Agency under Resolution 687. We also provided the Council with a consolidated report on the first two Agency inspections which were completed before the Iraqi letter and lists were presented on 7 July. The consolidated report is now provided to the Board in GOV/INF/618. It has been initially released in English, and the version in other languages will be released shortly. You will find that the inspectors had concluded, even before the Iraqi letter of 7 July, that there was an enrichment programme and that they even felt able to make some assessment of its size.

The reason why I have asked the Board of Governors to meet is that I am obliged to report to the Board my conclusion that Iraq, having developed a major programme for the enrichment of uranium, without submitting materials and relevant facilities and installations to safeguards, is in non compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The rationale of the safeguards system is that confidence can be created about the peaceful purpose of nuclear activities through their being openly declared to the IAEA and inspected by the Agency. The large enrichment programme in Iraq was clandestine, it was not placed under safeguards and no confidence can arise that it had peaceful purposes.

You will have seen in the documentation submitted to this Board that the Secretariat has concluded specifically that the substantial amounts of nuclear materials, declared on 7 July and now inspected, including such materials as U02, UCl4, and UF6 should have been placed under safeguards. The comments offered in explanation of why this was not done are not persuasive. It should have been and probably was clear to Iraqi authorities that these materials were subject to safeguards under the terms of Iraq's safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Since the report to the Board was prepared on 16 July it has also become clear through Iraqi explanations that the facility at Tarmiya which was first described to our inspectors as a factory for the production of transformers was, as the inspectors had concluded, a facility for the production of enriched uranium through the EMI separation method. It has been learnt that this huge facility was designed to house 90 electromagnetic isotope separators and that eight such separators were actually placed in operation in September 1990, resulting in the production of around half a kilogramme of 4% enriched uranium. It is evident to us and it must have been evident to the responsible authorities in Iraq that a very large installation of this kind, built specifically for the purposes of uranium enrichment, and with enriched material already being produced, even in modest amounts, should have been placed under safeguards and design information should have been provided to the Agency long before this week In his letter of 7 July the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq states inter alia that "Iraq had sound reasons related to its national security which induced it to refrain from declaring some of the stages of the [nuclear] programme ...". Reasons, maybe, but not legally valid reasons. There is also no doubt that the secretiveness of and uncertainty about Iraq's nuclear programme was a major factor leading to today's tragic situation.

It is now being asked, and we must ask ourselves whether major changes are needed to strengthen the safeguards system. The case of Iraq demonstrates the inspection challenges that may need to be met and the ability of the Agency to meet them. This ability was appreciated by members of the Security Council at the meeting on 15 July. May I conclude that the lesson to be learnt from the present case is that a high degree of assurance can be obtained that the Agency can uncover clandestine nuclear activities if three major conditions are fulfilled.

First, that access is provided to information obtained, inter alia through national technical means regarding sites that may require inspection;

Second, that access to any such sites, even at short notice, is an unequivocal right of the Agency;

Third, that access to the Security Council is available for backing and support that may be necessary to perform the inspection.

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