Nuclear capabilities of Iraq
|Inspections and declarations revealed in a rather piecemeal fashion that Iraq had processed material to chemical forms suitable for enrichment and for production of plutonium, material which Iraq was required to declare to the Agency in accordance with its safeguards agreement as well as by resolution 687. The existence of gram quantities of plutonium which had been clandestinely separated from irradiated fuel at the Al Tuwaitha nuclear centre had been revealed. In addition, fuel assemblies had been fabricated from previously undeclared stocks of natural uraniumoxide.
Even after the Iraqi authorities gave detailed accounts of the EMIS programme, they denied any major progress in a centrifuge enrichment programme. As evidence accumulated, admissions were made of a small number of centrifuges and components as part of early stages of a research and development programme, and then of the intention to build a small (100 machine) cascade. Even when a facility deemed by experts as being capable of producing a few thousand machines a year was located, Iraq denied such intentions.
The Iraqi authorities have lately shown more openness in discussions about the programme where some important inconsistencies remained from previous inspections and many issues were resolved including details as to the progress, objectives, and dimensions of the programme.
In January 1992, an inspection team visited Iraq to discuss key components sufficient to produce a few thousand centrifuges which had been imported. As a result of the meetings, which took place in the presence of technical experts from both sides, the Iraqi authorities acknowledged the procurement of these materials and components and explained that these supplies had been destroyed or "rendered harmless" by melting and crushing before the beginning of Agency inspections under resolution 687.
The Iraqi authorities also acknowledged the procurement of 100 tons of special high tensile steel (maraging steel) sufficient to produce a few thousand centrifuge rotors and rotor internal fittings as well as the procurement of several thousand aluminium forgings for the vacuum housing flanges. The Iraqi authorities said that these materials also had been destroyed or rendered harmless by melting before inspections began.
Iraq's response to IAEA inspection work has largely followed a pattern of denial of clandestine activities until the evidence became overwhelming, followed by co-operation. As a consequence of this behaviour it is not yet possible to be confident that the full extent of prohibited nuclear activities in Iraq has in fact been disclosed. Therefore, Agency inspection and monitoring efforts in Iraq will continue to assure that no reemergence of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme occurs.
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