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El Baradei's report

The following is the text of UN weapons inspectors chief Mohamed El Baradei's report to the UN security council on Friday February 14, 2003.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2003 17:54 IST

The following is the text of UN weapons inspectors chief Mohamed El Baradei's report to the UN security council on Friday February 14, 2003.

My report to the Council today is an update on the status of the IAEA's nuclear verification activities in Iraq pursuant to Security Council resolution 1441 and other relevant resolutions. Less than three weeks have passed since my last update to the Council, on 27 January - a relatively short period in the overall inspection process. However, I believe it is important for the Council to remain actively engaged and fully informed at this critical time.

The focus of the IAEA's inspections has now moved from the "reconnaissance phase" into the "investigative phase". The "reconnaissance phase" was aimed at re-establishing rapidly our knowledge base of Iraq's nuclear capabilities, ensuring that nuclear activities at known key facilities had not been resumed, verifying the location of nuclear material and relevant non-nuclear material and equipment, and identifying the current workplaces of former key Iraqi personnel. The focus of the "investigative phase" is achieving an understanding of Iraq's activities over the last four years, in particular in areas identified by States as being of concern and those identified by the IAEA on the basis of its own analysis.

Since our 27 January report, the IAEA has conducted an additional 38 inspections at 19 locations, for a total of 177 inspections at 125 locations. Iraq has continued to provide immediate access to all locations. In the course of the inspections, we have identified certain facilities at which we will be re-establishing containment and surveillance systems in order to monitor, on a continuous basis, activities associated with critical dual-use equipment. At this time, we are using recurrent inspections to ensure that this equipment is not being used for prohibited purposes.

As I mentioned in my last report to the Council, we have a number of wide-area and location-specific measures for detecting indications of undeclared past or ongoing nuclear activities in Iraq, including environmental sampling and radiation detection surveys.

In this regard, we have been collecting a broad variety of samples, including water, sediment and vegetation, at inspected facilities and at other locations across Iraq, and analysing them for signatures of nuclear activities.

We have also resumed air sampling at key locations in Iraq. Three of the four air samplers that were removed in December 2002 for refurbishing have been returned to Iraq. One of these has been installed at a fixed location, and the other two are being operated from mobile platforms. We are intending to increase their number to make optimum use of this technique.

We are also continuing to expand the use of hand-held and car-borne gamma surveys in Iraq. The gamma survey vehicle has been used en route to inspection sites and within sites, as well as in urban and industrial areas. We will start helicopter-borne gamma surveys as soon as the relevant equipment receives its final certification for use on the helicopter model provided to us for use in Iraq.

The IAEA has continued to interview key Iraqi personnel. We have recently been able to conduct four interviews in private - that is, without the presence of an Iraqi observer. The interviewees, however, have tape recorded their interviews. In addition, discussions have continued to be conducted with Iraqi technicians and officials as part of inspection activities and technical meetings. I should note that, during our recent meeting in Baghdad, Iraq reconfirmed its commitment to encourage its citizens to accept interviews in private, both inside and outside of Iraq.

In response to a request by the IAEA, Iraq has expanded the list of relevant Iraqi personnel to over 300, along with their current work locations. The list includes the higher-level key scientists known to the IAEA in the nuclear and nuclear related areas. We will continue, however, to ask for information about Iraqi personnel of lesser rank whose work may be of significance to our mandate.

I would like now to provide an update on a number of specific issues that we are currently pursuing. I should mention that, shortly before our recent meeting in Baghdad, and based on our discussions with the Iraqi counterpart, Iraq provided documentation related to these issues: the reported attempt to import uranium, the attempted procurement of aluminium tubes, the procurement of magnets and magnet production capabilities, the use of HMX, and those questions and concerns that were outstanding in 1998. I will touch briefly on each of these issues. Iraq continues to state that it has made no attempt to import uranium since the 1980s. The IAEA also recently received some additional information relevant to this issue, which will be further pursued, hopefully with the assistance of the African country reported to have been involved.

The IAEA is continuing to follow up on acknowledged efforts by Iraq to import high strength aluminium tubes. As you will know, Iraq has declared these efforts to have been in connection with a programme to reverse engineer conventional rockets. The IAEA has verified that Iraq had indeed been manufacturing such rockets. However, we are still exploring whether the tubes were intended rather for the manufacture of centrifuges for uranium enrichment. In connection with this investigation, Iraq has been asked to explain the reasons for the tight tolerance specifications that it had requested from various suppliers. Iraq has provided documentation related to the project for reverse engineering and has committed itself to providing samples of tubes received from prospective suppliers. We will continue to investigate the matter further.

In response to IAEA inquiries about Iraq's attempts to procure a facility for the manufacture of magnets, and the possible link with the resumption of a nuclear programme, Iraq recently provided additional documentation, which we are presently examining.

First Published: Feb 22, 2003 12:39 IST