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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 28, July 1998

IAEA Interim Report on Iraq Nuclear Programme

'IAEA Presents Interim Status Report on Nuclear Inspections in Iraq,' IAEA Press Release PR 98/12, 28 July 1998

Full text

"The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, has submitted to the UN Security Council for its consideration, through the UN Secretary General, a status report on the IAEA's inspections in Iraq, responding to a request by the President of the Council, on behalf of the Council, dated 14 May 1998.

The report provides a brief summary of Iraq's nuclear capability as currently understood, addresses some remaining questions and concerns, and describes the outcome of the latest visit to Baghdad by the leader of the IAEA's Iraq Action Team a month ago.

Since the 1991 Gulf War the IAEA has undertaken a huge, countrywide task of mapping and neutralizing Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme. The existence of some uncertainties in an operation of this scale is inevitable. This is compounded by Iraq's lack of full transparency in the provision of information, which has resulted in uncertainties about the extent of external assistance to Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme and some aspects of the programme's actual achievements. However, the IAEA has found no indications that Iraq has retained the physical capability - in terms of hardware and facilities - to produce weapon-usable nuclear material. Nor are there any indications of Iraq having achieved its programme goal of producing nuclear weapons. The IAEA has indicated nevertheless that it cannot provide absolute assurance of the absence of readily concealable items such as components of centrifuge machines. It is also clear that Iraq had made significant progress in weaponisation technologies prior to April 1991 and that there remains in Iraq a cadre of experienced personnel who were employed in the clandestine nuclear programme.

These uncertainties referred to above are factored into the IAEA ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) plan, which takes fully into account the extensive technical expertise developed by Iraq in the course of its clandestine nuclear programme, particularly regarding the production of weapon-usable nuclear material, and is predicated on the assumption that Iraq has the knowledge and the technical capability to exploit, for nuclear weapon purposes, any relevant materials or technology to which it may gain access in the future. Effective monitoring and verification in Iraq, as required by Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), must be comprehensive and rigorous, and, as a result, intrusive. In order to further strengthen its overall OMV capabilities, the IAEA is expanding and consolidating its activities into a wide-area environmental monitoring programme. The IAEA has pointed out, however, that OMV measures cannot guarantee detection of readily concealable proscribed activities such as computer weaponisation studies.

The IAEA will continue, in the context of its OMV, to investigate remaining uncertainties, through follow-up of any new information that may come to hand, as well as any other aspects of Iraq's clandestine programme and will destroy, remove, or render harmless any prohibited items that may be discovered through such investigations."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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