July 1, 1998
International Atomic Energy Agency
Dear Director General ElBaradei:
Thank you for your prompt reply to our letter of June 24. We appreciate your personal commitment to addressing outstanding issues regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
We certainly agree with the Agency's statement in the October 1997 consolidated report that "[s]ome uncertainty is inevitable in any country-wide technical verification process which aims to prove the absence of readily concealable objects or activities." We welcome your emphasis of this point in your Washington Post article, and expect, therefore, that the Agency will resume highlighting such uncertainties (especially the significance if Iraq were to acquire weapons-usable nuclear material) in its reports and public statements on Iraq, in order to avoid the misleading impression of a "clean bill of health."
You emphasized in your letter that "the IAEA does not take any member state 'at its word.'" It is unfortunate, therefore, that there are several instances in the Agency's inspection reports where Iraq's claims on important issues---such as missing reports and components---are left unchallenged "in the absence of contrary evidence." We submit that the Agency should persist in challenging and investigating all such claims, even when it lacks immediate leads.
Of course, we are aware that the Agency retains inspection rights under the terms of the ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) plan. Our concern is that, if the Agency certifies the requirements of Resolution 687 have been met, such inspections will be difficult if not impossible to implement. It is prudent to assume that Saddam Hussein's only interest in permitting nuclear and other U.N. inspections is the prospect that economic sanctions will be lifted. If and when sanctions are removed, Iraqi cooperation is likely to evaporate, leaving remaining questions about the nuclear-weapons program unresolved and making it easier for Iraq to reconstitute this program.
The five unanswered questions about Iraq's nuclear-weapon program enumerated in our letter are significant and have direct relevence to Iraq's near-term ability to make nuclear weapons. Therefore, all should be answered or highlighted as being unanswered in Mr. Dillon's forthcoming report. Assuming Iraq possesses a workable design and components, it would need only a few kilograms of plutonium or highly enriched uranium to "go nuclear."
We do not agree with the Agency's view that the acceptability of uncertainty on these issues is a "policy judgement." Given the gravity of the danger if Iraq were to possess nuclear weapons, we urge that Mr. Dillon be directed to identify all outstanding issues and elaborate on their significance to this danger in the Agency's next status report to the Security Council in July.
Thank you for your continuing attention to these urgent matters. We hope we might have the opportunity to meet with you and Mr. Dillon to discuss these concerns when you next visit the United States.
What's New Saddam & the BombHome Page