(28 January 2003)
The following is an edited version of the Report into the Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq by Mohamed al-Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency:
It is important first to recall what was accomplished during our inspections from 1991 to 1998. By December 1998 &Mac246; when the inspections were brought to a halt &Mac246; we were confident that we had not missed any significant component of Iraq's nuclear programme.
Conduct of inspections to date:
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 Iraqi declaration of 7 December 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 &Mac246; 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 clarification.
Resolution 1441 also clearly gave the inspectors the authority to determine the modalities and venues for conducting interviews with Iraqi officials. 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 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.
Findings of inspections to date:
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. 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. 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 687.
A 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.
Need for additional co-operation by Iraq:
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 emphasised the need to shift from passive support &Mac246; responding to inspectors' requests &Mac246; to proactive support, voluntarily assisting inspectors by providing documentation, people and other evidence that will assist in filling the gaps in our information.
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 should be allowed to run its natural course. With our verification system in place, barring exceptional circumstances, and provided there is sustained proactive co-operation 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.