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Excerpts From the U.N. Discussions

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Chief U.N. nuclear weapons inspector

March 08, 2003

When I reported last to the council, on 14 Feb., I explained that the agency's inspection activities had moved well beyond the "reconnaissance phase" -- that is, reestablishing our knowledge base regarding Iraq's nuclear capabilities -- into the "investigative phase."

At the outset, let me state one general observation: namely, that during the past four years, at the majority of Iraqi sites, industrial capacity has deteriorated substantially, due to the departure of the foreign support that was often present in the late 1980s, the departure of large numbers of skilled Iraqi personnel in the past decade and the lack of consistent maintenance by Iraq of sophisticated equipment.

At only a few inspected sites involved in industrial research, development and manufacturing have the facilities been improved and new personnel been taken on.

This overall deterioration in industrial capacity is naturally of direct relevance to Iraq's capability for resuming a nuclear weapons program.

The [International Atomic Energy Agency] has now conducted a total of 218 nuclear inspections at 141 sites.

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The IAEA has conducted a thorough investigation of Iraq's attempts to purchase large quantities of high-strength aluminum tubes ....

Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81-millimeter tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets.... .

Iraq's efforts to import these aluminum tubes were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuges.

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The IAEA has made progress in its investigation into reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger in recent years. The investigation was centered on documents provided by a number of states that pointed to an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium....

The IAEA has discussed these reports with the governments of Iraq and Niger, both of which have denied that any such activity took place....

Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents -- which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger -- are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.

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In conclusion, I am able to report today that, in the area of nuclear weapons -- the most lethal weapons of mass destruction -- inspections in Iraq are moving forward....

IAEA has made important progress in identifying what nuclear-related capabilities remain in Iraq and in its assessment of whether Iraq has made any efforts to revive its past nuclear program during the intervening four years since inspections were brought to a halt.

At this stage, the following can be stated: There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.

There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.

There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuges out of the aluminum tubes in question.

Although we are still reviewing issues related to magnets and magnet production, there is no indication to date that Iraq imported magnets for use in a centrifuge enrichment program.

As I stated above, the IAEA will continue further to scrutinize and investigate all of the above issues.

After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq....

I should note that, 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.

I do hope that Iraq will continue to expand the scope and accelerate the pace of its cooperation.

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