IAEA sees progress in identifying Iraqs nuclear capabilities Security Council told

Monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have made important progress over the last three months in identifying what nuclear-related capabilities remain in Iraq, the head of the Agency told the Security Council today, noting that the last three weeks in particular have seen Baghdad being more forthcoming it its cooperation with the Agency.“After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq,” IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei said at a high-level meeting of the Council attended by 11 Foreign Ministers.Mr. ElBaradei also noted that in the last few weeks, Iraq has provided a “considerable volume” of documentation relevant to several issues under investigation by the IAEA, including the country’s efforts to procure aluminium tubes, acquire magnets and magnet production capabilities, and reported attempts to import uranium.Based on available evidence, the IAEA chief said, the Agency has concluded that there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities since 1998, nor any sign of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.He said Iraq’s efforts to import aluminium tubes “were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuges” and that it was “highly unlikely” that Iraq could have achieved the redesign needed to use them in a revived centrifuge programme.The high-strength magnets purchased by Iraq in recent years have been for various uses, and IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets have verified that none of those declared by Iraq could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing, Mr. ElBaradei added.As for reports that Iraq has attempted to buy uranium from Niger in recent years, Mr. ElBaradei said that the IAEA’s investigation was centred on documents provided by a number of countries that pointed to an agreement between the two countries for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001. “Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents are in fact not authentic,” and therefore the allegations are unfounded, he said.“In the past three weeks, possibly as a result of ever-increasing pressure by the international community, Iraq has been forthcoming in its cooperation, particularly with regard to the conduct of private interviews and in making available evidence that could contribute to the resolution of matters of IAEA concern,” Mr. ElBaradei said. “I do hope that Iraq will continue to expand the scope and accelerate the pace of its cooperation.”

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