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June 24, 1998

Mohamed ElBaradei
International Atomic Energy Agency
Vienna, Austria

Dear Director-General ElBaradei:

We are writing to convey our letter to the editor, published in the Washington Post on June 22, in response to your June 1 op-ed article, "Iraq's Nuclear File: Still Open." The letter expresses our concern that the IAEA's proposed shift to more passive environmental monitoring is premature until a number of outstanding questions about Iraq's nuclear weapons program--- originally raised by the IAEA in the fourth consolidated report (S/1997/779, 8 October 1997)--- are answered first.

We wish to underscore our proposal that you direct IAEA Iraq Action Team Director Gary Dillon to address each of these questions in his July report to the Security Council.

These unresolved issues are not merely historical artifacts of a "past program," as you suggest in your article, but directly concern whether Saddam Hussein's regime could produce nuclear weapons today. Among the most significant are the following:

The IAEA's fifth consolidated report (S/1998/312, 9 April 1998) is distressing in that it fails to address most of these issues and concludes that Iraq's most recent accounting of its nuclear program is "full, final and complete."

The discovery this week by UNSCOM inspectors of evidence that Iraq weaponized shells with VX nerve gas, despite Iraq's repeated insistence that it had never done so, demonstrates that Iraq continues to misrepresent the extent of its efforts to produce and conceal weapons of mass destruction. In the face of such evidence, and given the long history of Iraq's concealment, obstructionism and misrepresentation with regard to its nuclear program, the IAEA should not take Iraq at its word, even when there is no immediate evidence to the contrary.

In May, the Security Council stated that all questions and concerns about Iraq's nuclear program must be resolved before the IAEA can switch to an ongoing monitoring and verification posture. The Agency's credibility is at stake in pursuing this difficult assignment in a manner that protects global security and strengthens the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you.


Paul Leventhal

Steven Dolley
Research Director


ElBaradei's Response

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