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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


IAEA and Iraqi Nuclear Weapons

The Security Council, in resolution 687 (1991), envisaged that, within fifteen days of adoption of the resolution, Iraq would submit to the Director General of the IAEA a declaration of the locations, amounts and types of all items specified in paragraph 12 of the resolution. It further envisaged that the IAEA would carry out immediate on-site inspections of Iraq's nuclear capabilities based on Iraq's declarations and the designation of any additional locations by the Special Commission, and that the Agency would develop a plan for submission to the Security Council within forty-five days calling for the destruction, removal or rendering harmless, as appropriate, of all items listed in paragraph 12 of the resolution. The IAEA was expected to commence to carry out that plan within forty-five days after its approval by the Security Council.

It was not possible for the IAEA to follow such a timetable, primarily because Iraq chose to follow a course of denial, concealment and obstruction, rather than meeting its obligation to provide, at the outset, the declaration foreseen by resolution 687. The initial declarations provided by Iraq were totally inadequate and the IAEA's access to designated inspection sites was obstructed.

The major discovery by the IAEA was the electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) program and its extent. Iraq took extensive measures to hide the existence of the process. Prior to the first IAEA inspection, most of the equipment for the EMIS process had been buried, excavated and moved between various sites by convoy to hide it from detection. The second IAEA inspection team located the equipment, but was refused access a number of times to the military camps in which it was housed. Photographs were taken as a convoy attempted to escape by a back entrance while inspectors were denied access at the front gate. In this incident, warning shots were fired by Iraqi personnel. The EMIS equipment has now been largely accounted for. [IAEA April 1992 ]

On 27 April 1991, Iraq submitted a selective declaration of its inventory of nuclear material which was limited to the material previously declared by Iraq pursuant to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This declaration included some nuclear material which was not weapon-usable but did not include much larger amounts of other non-weapon-usable nuclear materials which had been clandestinely acquired or produced. Iraq's declaration also listed 23 buildings on the Tuwaitha site of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, as well as the uranium yallowcake production facility at Al Qaim. However, the declaration failed to include the uranium dioxide and uranium tetrachloride plants at A1 Jesira, the electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) uranium enrichment facilities at Al Tarmiya and A1 Shargat, the nuclear weapons development and production facilities at A1 Atheer and A1 Qa Qaa and the gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facilities at A1 Rashdiya and A1 Furat or any of the engineering, manufacturing and support facilities. It was against this background that the IAEA commenced its first on-site inspection campaign on 15 May 1991. [S/1997/779]

Following the visit to Iraq in July 1991 of a United Nations/IAEA high-level delegation and the personal intervention of the Secretary-General, Iraq modified its initial approach and provided a considerably expanded, though still incomplete declaration. After high-level talks in 1993, Iraq started to release more information, particularly regarding its procurement networks. However, Iraq continued to conceal and deny aspects of its weaponization and centrifuge enrichment activities.

The most extreme example of this policy was Iraq's initial endeavour to conceal the programme in its entirety by removing and concealing tell-tale equipment and materials from the sites involved. The stripping of EMIS equipment from Tuwaitha and Tarmiya and denying IAEA access to the concealment locations at Abu Grahib and Falluja typified this effort. Even after Iraq's revised declaration of 7 July 1991, issued after the Falluja confrontation, Iraq continued to deny the actual mission and achievements of the Al Atheer nuclear weapons development and production facility, as well as the actual location of the gas centrifuge development facility. [S/1997/779]

Iraq's revised declaration of 7 July l991 included reference to its research and development activities involving the recovery of plutonium from the reprocessing of nuclear material irradiated in the IRT-5000 research reactor. Subsequent inspection confirmed that there had been three reprocessing campaigns, carried out in the hot cells of the radio-chemical laboratory at Tuwaitha, and that some five grams of plutonium had been recovered. This activity was complemented by project 182, which aimed at the design and indigenous construction of a 40 MW natural uranium/heavy water research reactor and would have provided the basis for a capability to produce and separate substantial amounts of weapon-usable plutonium. [S/1997/779]

Of immense assistance to the uncovering of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme was the large cache of documentation obtained during the sixth and seventh on-site inspection campaigns, carried out between 22 September and 22 October 1991. These documents provided a comprehensive insight into that part of the programme which had been developed under the code name Petrochemical Project 3 (PC-3). Although, on 23 September, Iraq had forcibly removed the bulk of these documents from IAEA custody for a period of about six hours, during which time, according to Iraq's later statement, it had cataloqued the reports and removed all documents relating to PC-3 Group 4 (weaponisation), the IAEA had been able to secure a number of documents which provided incontrovertible evidence that the real mission of the A1 Atheer facility was the development and production of nuclear weapons. [S/1997/779]

Throughout the initial phase of implementation of the IAEA plan, Iraq persistently provided only limited acknowledgement of activities until they were exposed through inspections. Iraq consistently denied the existence of any work related to nuclear weapons development until mid-October 1991, 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. Iraq maintained that the Al Atheer site was a materials production center until 21 October 1991, when it admitted that the site had in fact been built also to service the weaponization program. [IAEA April 1992 ]

Following the August 1995 departure from Iraq of the late Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel, Iraq released a considerable amount of additional information regarding previously concealed aspects of its clandestine nuclear programme, in particular the centrifuge enrichment programme and the development of the explosive package of the nuclear weapon. Iraq continued to limit the scope of information provided in response to IAEA questioning in an effort to understate the capabilities developed within the clandestine nuclear program. [S/1998/694] The so-called Haider House farm documentation cache contained a collection of several hundred pages of information regarding the involvement of Iraq's General Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat) in Iraq's clandestine nuclear program. [S/1997/950]

IAEA carried out a comprehensive campaign of destruction, removal and rendering harmless of the practical assets of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme. This campaign involved the extensive destruction of buildings and equipment at the EMIS sites at Tuwaitha, A1 Tarmiya and A1 Sharqat, and at the nuclear weapons development and production sites at A1 Atheer and A1 Qa Qaa; of the laboratory-scale reprocessing facilities at Tuwaitha; and of gas centrifuge related materials, components and equipment. In total, more than 50,000 square metres of facility floor space were destroyed by explosives and more than 1,900 individual items and 600 tons of sensitive alloys, useful in a nuclear weapons programme or in uranium enrichment activities, were destroyed or rendered harmless.[S/1997/779]

Most of the IAEA activities involving the destruction, removal and rendering harmless of the components of Iraq's nuclear weapons programme which to date have been revealed and destroyed, were completed by November 1992. After that time, only a relatively small number of items of proscribed equipment and materials were identified and disposed of, most of which were handed over to the IAEA by Iraq after the events of August 1995. [S/1998/694]

Those destruction and rendering harmless activities were complemented by the removal from Iraq of all known nuclear-weapon-usable nuclear material and the removal to the IAEA's Vienna headquarters of some specialised equipment. The removal of the nuclear weapon-usable nuclear material was accomplished in two phases, with the unirradiated and lightly-irradiated material being removed in three consignments during the period November 1991 to June 1992, and the more complex task of removing the irradiated material being accomplished, in two consignments during the period December 1993 to February 1994. [S/1997/779]

As defined in paragraph 13 of resolution 687 (1991), the purpose of the IAEA Ongoing Monitoring and verification [OMV] plan was to monitor and verify Iraq's compliance with its obligations under paragraph 12 of that resolution: primarily, Iraq's obligation not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapon-usable material or any subsystems or components or any related research, development or manufacturing facilities. The overall goal of ongoing monitoring and verification was to provide reaffirmation that Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme had been neutralized and was not being reconstituted. The OMV plan was designed to provide timely detection of indications of any attempt by Iraq to reconstitute its clandestine nuclear program, or more specifically, to give assurance of the absence of prohibited equipment, materials and activities. The plan fully took into account the extensive technological expertise developed by Iraq in the course of its clandestine nuclear program, particularly regarding the production of weapon-usable nuclear material. [S/1998/694]

The IAEA's ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) plan was phased-in during the period from November 1992 to August 1994, at which time it was considered to be operational. The procedures and techniques initially employed by IAEA to map out Iraq's clandestine nuclear program were designed to detect the presence of prohibited equipment, materials and activities. IAEA employed essentially the same procedures and techniques under its OMV plan to provide assurance of the absence of prohibited equipment, materials and activities. These procedures and techniques included, but were not limited to: unannounced inspections of known locations; unannounced inspections of previously un-inspected locations; examination of records, equipment, materials and products; sampling of materials and work surfaces; interviews of personnel in the workplace; overhead imagery analysis; and environmental monitoring, including aerial and land-based radiation surveys, hydrological sampling, vegetation sampling, air sampling and deposition sampling. [S/1998/694]

Based on all credible information available to date, the IAEA's verification activities in Iraq resulted in the evolution of a technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear program. There were no indications of significant discrepancies between the technically coherent picture which evolved of Iraq's past programme and the information contained in Iraq's Full Final and Complete Disclosure [FFCD-F] issued on 7 September 1996, as supplemented by the written revisions and additions provided by Iraq since that time. [S/1998/694]

In response to an IAEA request, Iraq's declarations for both of the six-month periods of 1997 contained expanded information on certain sites involved in the production of materials, equipment and components, as well as sites involved in design and in research and development work. Iraq's declaration for the second half of 1997 included information on activities undertaken at those sites during that period; the current organizational structure of individual sites and their key management staff; the basic elements of the implemented programmes and the associated budgets, material, equipment and components produced; main customers; technical reports issued during 1997 and activities planned for 1998. [S/1998/312]

On 25 March 1998, Iraq provided to IAEA a computer disk containing its full, final and complete declaration, along with annexes and addenda, consolidating the text of the version dated 7 September 1996 and the revisions and additions resulting from subsequent technical discussions. In the spring of 1998 Iraq produced a document containing a summary of the technical achievements of its clandestine nuclear programme which was regarded by IAEA as consistent with the technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme, developed by IAEA in the course of its activities in Iraq. [S/1998/312]

Although it provided substantial revisions and additions to previously supplied information regarding the concealment and unilateral destruction of materials, equipment and documentation, Iraq did not explain the development, over time, of the underlying strategy for such actions, but stated simply that its activities in this regard were ad hoc reactions to rapidly changing situations. Similarly, Iraq did not provid a clear and comprehensive statement of the role of the Governmental Committee declared to have been established in June 1991 and charged, inter alla, to '"reduce the effect of NPT violation to the minimum". [S/1997/779]

Iraq maintained that following the Gulf war, the late Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel had taken actions related to Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme that were independent, unauthorized and without the knowledge of the Government of Iraq; that Iraq had not followed up any offers of assistance to its clandestine nuclear programme other than the declared foreign assistance to its centrifuge programme; and that the so-called "high governmental committee", initially described by Iraqi to have been established in June 1991 and headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, had not, in fact, been an established entity. [S/1998/312] Iraq's statements that its clandestine nuclear programme had effectively ceased in January 1991 and had been abandoned in April 1991 were inconsistent with actions taken to conceal and retain programme-related documentation, materials and equipment, until at least August 1995.

Although the IAEA did not "close the books," activities regarding the investigation of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme reached a point of diminishing returns and the IAEA instead focused most of its resources on the implementation and technical strengthening of its plan for the ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with its obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions. [S/1998/694]

The verification activities revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved its program objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely acquired such material. Furthermore, there were no indications that there remained in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance. In February 1994, IAEA completed the removal from Iraq of all weapon-usable nuclear material - essentially research reactor fuel - under IAEA safeguards. The IAEA noted that there were no indications of significant discrepancies between the technically coherent picture that had evolved of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program and the information contained in Iraq's "Full, Final and Complete Declaration". Some elements of uncertainty in the completeness of that picture remained because of the inevitable limitations of any countrywide verification process. The limitations in the verification process were not helped by Iraq's lack of full transparency in the provision of certain information and the absence of certain documentation.[S/1998/927]

The statement by IAEA that it had found "no indication" of prohibited equipment, materials or activities in Iraq is not the same as a statement of "non-existence" of prohibited equipment, materials or activities. Indeed, it is prudent to assume that Iraq had retained documentation of its clandestine nuclear programme, specimens of important components and possibly amounts of non-enriched uranium. There remained in Iraq a considerable intellectual resource in the form of the cadre of well-educated, highly experienced personnel who were employed in Iraq's clandestine nuclear program. There was an inherent uncertainty in the completeness of IAEA's "technically coherent picture" of Iraq's clandestine nuclear program, deriving from the possible existence of duplicate facilities or the possible existence of anomalous activities or facilities outside the "technically coherent picture." This inherent uncertainty was compounded by Iraq's lack of full transparency in the provision of information, which resulted in added uncertainties regarding the extent of external assistance to Iraq's clandestine nuclear program and Iraq's achievements in some aspects of its clandestine nuclear programme, owing to the absence of related programme documentation. [S/1998/694]

There were a large number of unresolved issues regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons program. These issues were raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its October 1997 consolidated inspection report, but were never resolved in subsequent IAEA reports. There remained important questions to be answered in the areas of weapons design; centrifuge research and development; missing weapon components and equipment; remaining uranium stocks; the EMIS ("calutron") enrichment program; Iraq's reporting to the IAEA and its efforts to conceal elements of its weapons program from the Agency; and post-war nuclear program activities. [NCI 980512] Even at the past level of highly intrusive monitoring and inspections, Iraq might have been able to construct a nuclear explosive before it was detected. All Iraq lacked for a nuclear bomb was the fissile material.




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