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CONTACT: Steven Dolley, Paul Leventhal

Friday, December 10, 1999


Flawed IAEA Nuclear Inspection Process
to Remain Largely Intact

            Washington---The United Nations Security Council now seems poised to adopt a resolution reorganizing inspection procedures and authority in the hope of returning inspectors to Iraq, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) apparently will retain primary responsibility for nuclear inspections, a process that proved dangerously flawed in the past, the Nuclear Control Institute declared today.

            It is gratifying that after months of delay the Security Council is finally nearing consensus on a new inspection regime to be put in place if Saddam Hussein allows the inspectors to return and gives them the unqualified cooperation and access that Iraq committed to when it accepted Resolution 687, the Gulf War cease-fire, over eight years ago, said NCI President Paul Leventhal.

            It is also promising that the draft resolution apparently requires the IAEA to report to the Security Council through the UNSCOM successor agencys executive director, rather than through the Secretary General, and to implement a `reinforced system of ongoing monitoring and verification'," Leventhal said.  "These changes represent a step in the right direction, but fall short of ensuring that the new UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) acquires paramount authority for directing and upgrading nuclear inspections that UNSCOM was denied."

            Added NCI Research Director Steven Dolley: "Primary authority for conducting nuclear inspections would still be wholly under IAEA control.  This is unacceptable, because in the past, the IAEA refused to take the same confrontational approach with nuclear inspections as UNSCOM did with inspections for chemical, biological and missile weaponry. Unlike UNSCOM, the IAEA accepted Iraqi claims without first obtaining missing documents and other evidence needed to confirm that Iraq's nuclear weapons program had in fact been destroyed."

            In a series of reports, NCI has pointed out that despite misimpressions created by the IAEA, Iraqs nuclear-bomb scientists remained on the job, and Saddam probably retained complete sets of components for three nuclear weapons, lacking only fissile material if none was smuggled in without detection.

            Given the absence of inspections of any kind in Iraq for more than a year, it becomes all the more important that UNSCOMs successor agency rather than the IAEA be given primary responsibility for nuclear inspections and the authority to direct IAEA's activities in Iraq," Leventhal said. "This approach would help to deflate the dangerously mistaken impression left by the IAEA that Iraq's nuclear weapons threat is dead."

            NCI reported on sharp differences in how UNSCOM and the IAEA conducted their work. UNSCOM had been more confrontational, refusing to accept Iraqi obfuscations and demanding evidence of destroyed weapons--what former UNSCOM chief Rolf Ekeus once called "the arms-control equivalent of war." The IAEA was more accommodating, giving Iraqi nuclear officials the benefit of the doubt when they failed to provide evidence that all nuclear weapons components had been destroyed and all prohibited activities terminated. Ekeus acknowledged "a certain culture problem" resulting from UNSCOM's "more aggressive approach, and the IAEA's more cooperative approach."

            For more information on nuclear inspections in Iraq, and unresolved issues related to Iraqs nuclear bomb program, see Iraqs Inspector Games, available on NCIs website at NCI reports on Iraq are available at

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