The IAEA on Iraq's Nuclear Program and Its Critics

Iraq News 16 Apr 1998 Laurie Mylroie <>

APRIL 16, 1998

NOTE: The "Free Iraq" Campaign--to mobilize support for the effort to 
INDICT Saddam and his cronies and demand the implementation of UNSCR 
688--will be traveling across America, starting from San Diego, Apr 25, 
and arriving for a May 10 march in Wash DC.  Its itinerary, and rallies, 
can be found at 
   Also, the introductory sections of "Iraq News" are now being archived 
by the Federation of American Scientists and can be found on its Iraq 

   Reuters, Apr 14, reported that the Iraqi cabinet had issued a 
statement that "stressed that the relations between Iraq and the other 
concerned parties [mainly the US, according to Reuters] will remain 
subject to crises and various possibilities . . .  if balanced work is 
not established and if premeditated intentions are not discarded."  The 
statement "expressed hope that Arab officials . . . and friends that had 
a particular position that helped materialize the deal with the UN 
Secretary-General . . . [will] all become active to curb the evil doers 
and to lift the embargo." 

  Indeed, that is entirely consistent with UNSCOM's latest report on the 
recently completed palace inspections.  As Reuters, Apr 15, explained 
Iraq made clear that "the fundamental issue of continuing access is by 
no means solved and has only been postponed to the future."  Also, the 
diplomats accompanying the inspectors sometimes took Iraq's side, while 
Kofi Annan to some extent, is becoming a mediator in disputes between 
Iraq and UNSCOM. 

   Indeed, when Reuters asked Annan about official Iraqi comments that 
access to the palaces was of "finite duration," Annan replied, "The 
agreement we signed does allow entry and re-entry and therefore I really 
don't know where this is coming from."  Told that the comments came from 
Iraq's Oil Minister, he said, "I don't know if General Rasheed can 
overrule President Saddam Hussein and Tariq Aziz.  That agreement was 
signed by Tariq Aziz and discussed with the president."

  The Wash Post, Apr 14, described the very positive report issued 
earlier this week by the IAEA on Iraq's nuclear program. "The IAEA has 
said for more than a year that it has found no evidence of nuclear 
weapons or the means to produce them within Iraq.  Today, the IAEA went 
further saying 'Iraq has satisfactorily completed its undertaking to 
produce a consolidated version of its full, final and complete 
declaration of its clandestine nuclear program.'  That has led some 
Security Council members, including France, Russia and Egypt [Ed: 
Bahrain replaced Egypt on the UNSC in Jan]  . . . to argue that the 
'nuclear file' should be closed with a finding that Iraq has done away 
with its nuclear programs and no longer requires close inspection in 
that area.  . .  However, the idea is fiercely opposed by the United 
States, which says that the IAEA still is unable to say definitely that 
Iraq's nuclear weapons have been eliminated."  

  Indeed, there is a serious disagreement on the status of Baghdad's 
nuclear program between the two organizations charged with disarming 
Iraq, UNSCOM and the IAEA.  UNSCOM believes that Iraq retains a 
significant nuclear capability, that quite possibly all it lacks for a 
bomb is the fissile material.  

   Former UNSCOM chairman, Amb. Rolf Ekeus, speaking Feb 12, at 
Washington's Meridian International Center, explained that there were 
proscribed weapons programs, or components of them, that Saddam seemed 
determined to retain.  Its nuclear program is one.

   In reviewing Baghdad's dealings over its nuclear program with the 
inspectors, Ekeus recalled that in Apr 91, in its first declarations 
following the passage of UNSCR 687, Iraq claimed that it really had no 
nuclear weapons program; it had only done basic research.  That, of 
course, proved untrue.  In a Jul 91 confrontation between inspectors, 
led by David Kay, and Iraqi officials in a Baghdad parking lot, 
documents were obtained that outlined a nuclear program, the existence 
of which Tariq Aziz had flatly denied to Ekeus.  Key elements of that 
program remain missing.  For example, Iraq had the components for an 
implosion device.  But it claims to have melted them down and destroyed 
them unilaterally, a claim UNSCOM does not credit and which, in any case 
would be a violation of the terms of UNSCR 687, which calls for 
internationally supervised inspection of Iraq's proscribed weapons.  
   Given the renewed IAEA claim to have disposed of Iraq's nuclear 
prgram, it might be useful to recall the article by Paul Leventhal and 
Steven Dolley, of the Nuclear Control Institute, in the IHT, Mar 5, 
distributed at the time by "Iraq News."  

   Leventhal and Dolley reviewed the IAEA's "dismal record" on Iraq, 
while citing Ekeus' remarks last June to the Carnegie Institute. "In 
what [Ekeus] flagged as a 'difference' with the IAEA, he said UNSCOM 
experts believed Iraq was capable of making a 'viable weapon' if it 
could buy a sufficient quantity of plutonium or highly enriched 
uranium."  Leventhal and Dolley noted that although the IAEA in its 
reporting to the UNSC, "complains of having reached a point of 
'diminshing returns' in its inspections and proposes a shift to a less 
intrusive monitoring arrangement. . .  the IAEA's own detailed reports 
show that Iraq's nuclear scientists are still in place, that key nuclear 
weapons components remain unaccounted for, that major gaps still exist 
in Iraqi reporting of its postwar nuclear weapon design work and that 
Iraq's clandestine procurement of nuclear equipment and materials 
continues."  And, assuming no change in Iraq's posture following Annan's 
Feb 23 accord, they called for continued intrusive nuclear inspections, 
as long as Saddam remained in power.