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.”
Eight NHS hospitals have been hit by the listeria outbreak which has killed five patients, the Health Secretary has revealed.Matt Hancock made the disclosures as he said he was keen to see the health service take NHS catering back in-house, in a bid to improve safety.The Health Secretary on Monday named six NHS hospitals which have been hit by the outbreak, linked to pre-packed sandwiches and salads, as he vowed to “take the necessary steps” to restore trust in hospital food.They include two – Leicester Royal Infirmary, and Royal Derby Hospital – in which patients have died. A further four hospitals, named as William Harvey in Ashford, Wexham Park Hospital in Berkshire, St Richards Hospital, in Chichester, Sussex, and Worthing Hospital, have been affected by the outbreak, Mr Hancock said.Until now, officials had only named two hospital trusts – Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool – which between them had seen three deaths caused by the outbreak.Sandwiches and salads linked to the outbreak were withdrawn on May 25, as soon as a link with the cases was suspected.But scientists fear more cases may emerge because listeria has a 70-day incubation period. “These deaths should never have happened. People rightly expect to be safe, and looked after in hospitals and we must ensure that we take the necessary steps to restore that trust that the public deserves to be able to hold.He said the review of hospital foods would see new standards for healthcare food published this year, as well as more action to cut the provision of junk foods in hospitals.The Good Food Chain has said it was co-operating “fully and transparently with the Food Standards Agency and other authorities” and said it hoped the inquiry would be pursued with “urgency so the wider industry can learn any lessons as soon as possible”.”Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families of those who have died and anyone else who has been affected by this outbreak. Show more Mr Hancock expressed condolences to the families who have lost loved ones, as he outlined plans for a root-and-branch review of food sold and served in hospitals.He added: “I promise there will be a full and thorough investigation, and severe consequences if there is any evidence of wrongdoing.” Mr Hancock has now set out plans for a “root and branch” review of hospital food, to improve its nutrition, as well as its safety.And he said he would be keen to see an end to outsourcing of hospital food.He told the Commons: “There are dozens of hospital trusts that have brought their catering inhouse and found that you get better quality food more likely to be locally produced and better value for money by bringing the delivery of food services in house. And that is something we are going to be examining very closely because i am very attracted to that model and it also has the potential to reduce the risk of safety concerns like this.”Later he said he had been struck by the number of hospital chief executives who had told him that bringing food supplies in house was “the best thing they have done” to improve nutrition and food quality. The infections relate to sandwiches and salads provided by the Good Food Chain, using meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats. The Good Food Chain, which supplied 43 trusts in England, has voluntarily ceased production while investigations continue, as has the meat producer. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.