WASHINGTON — The Bush Administration on Wednesday took on the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying it was misled into concluding that Iraq isn't developing nuclear weapons.
Two inspectors of the Vienna-based IAEA, which monitors compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, visited nuclear sites in Iraq last week and announced Tuesday that they did not find any evidence of atomic weapons development.
"We think the International Atomic Energy Agency is wrong," White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said Wednesday. "They see only what Iraq wants them to see."
Fitzwater said U.S. intelligence briefings indicate that Iraq has a nuclear capability "that could come to fruition within months." He did not detail the evidence.
The IAEA inspectors, touring a storage plant and a fuel-producing plant, apparently checked on a 27-pound mass of highly enriched uranium that Iraq salvaged from its Osirak nuclear reactor, which was destroyed by an Israeli air attack in 1981. They found no evidence that any of the uranium has been diverted, according to the agency.