United States Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
April 6, 1999
Paul Leventhal, President
Steven Dolley, Research Director
Nuclear Control Institute
1000 Connecticut Ave NW Suite 804
Washington DC 20036
Dear Mr. Leventhal and Mr. Dolley:
Thank you for your November 19, 1998 letter to the President expressing your concerns regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons program. Ensuring Iraqi compliance with all UN Security Council Resolutions is a top priority for the United States. Currently, Iraq's illegal refusal to comply with its clear obligations under UNSCRs are preventing UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors from inspecting WMD-related sites in Iraq, or from carrying out other parts of their mandate. We and our international partners are determined to see those inspections resumed, effectively and unconditionally. On January 30, 1999 the Security Council agreed to set up panels to assess three critical aspects of the Iraq situation: disarmament; humanitarian concerns; and issues relating to Kuwait. We support this undertaking, while maintaining our firm position that there can be no consideration of lifting UN sanctions on Iraq until Iraq fully complies with its obligations.
On nuclear issues, we agree with IAEA Director General ElBaradei's observation in his February 8, 1999 report to the UNSC President that there are "no indications that Iraq had retained the physical capability (facilities and hardware) to be able to produce weapon-usable nuclear material in amounts of any practical significance... [but that] "no indication' of prohibited items or activities was not the same as their 'non existence.'" We and the IAEA also agree that there are still unanswered questions in several areas of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, including: lack of information about external assistance, lack of technical documentation, and Iraq's stated inability to provide documentation showing the timing and modalities of the abandonment of its nuclear weapons program. The IAEA has highlighted the lack of information about weaponization as one of several areas where it has continuing uncertainties and where there is a lack of complete and verifiable information.
UNSC Resolution 715 requires the establishment of an Ongoing Monitoring and Verification regime (OMV) to ensure that Iraq cannot ever reconstitute its WMD capability. There is no such thing as "closing the nuclear file." That's an Iraqi term, introduced into the diplomatic dialogue in an effort to obscure the obvious fact that any future OMV regime put in place after the conclusion of the "'disarmament phase" of inspections would still need to retain all the authorities, privileges, and immunities of current disarmament inspections. Iraq is also required to pass legislation outlawing activities prohibited by UNSCR 687, such as building or procuring WMD. Iraq has acknowledged its responsibility in this regard under the IAEA's OMV plan, but has not yet taken the steps necessary to enact these laws.
Regarding allegations about Iraq's nuclear program by Mr. Ritter, we have evaluated his claims but we cannot corroborate allegations that Iraq possesses the components for three nuclear weapons minus the fissile material. These are serious allegations and we have engaged UNSCOM and the IAEA to follow up on them.
U.S. policy on Iraq is to ensure Iraqi compliance with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, to contain Iraq and prevent it from threatening its neighbors, and to work for the day when a new Iraqi government rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for
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