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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Nuclear capabilities of Iraq

IAEA activities and Iraq's response

Following adoption of Security Council resolutions charging the IAEA with the task of destroying, removing, or rendering harmless nuclear-related facilities, equipment and materials in Iraq, the IAEA developed a plan of action.

The initial plan, approved by the Security Council, as well as the first inspections, focused on material and facilities known to exist at the time and were based on Iraqi declarations of 18 and 27 April 1991. The plan emphasized that inspections should provide additional information and could reveal additional items to be reviewed in subsequent inspections. As time progressed, and with each new inspection, this assumption proved to be accurate as inspectors found evidence indicating that the Iraqi nuclear programme was far more extensive than revealed by Iraq at the time.

In fact, Iraq consistently denied the existence of any work related to nuclear weapons development until mid-October, when in the course of the seventh inspection, Iraq acknowledged that research studies in weaponization had been conducted at Al Tuwaitha. Iraqi authorities later confirmed what inspection activities revealed to be extensive efforts to conceal or destroy evidence of such a programme.

After repeated visits, nuclear weapons experts on the inspection team became convinced that it was the Al Atheer site that was principally involved in nuclear weapons design activities. Iraq maintained that it was a materials production centre until 21 October when it admitted that the site had in fact been built also to service the weaponization programme. Throughout the initial phase of implementation of the IAEA plan, Iraq persistently provided only limited acknowledgement of activities until they were exposed through inspections.

Evidence of critical areas such as uranium enrichment and nuclear weapons development were concealed. Iraqi authorities denied access to inspectors and confiscated documents. Such actions by Iraq created a rather difficult environment.

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