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IAEA Team Concludes Inspections in Iraq

safeguards seal

Seals like the one shown here are used by IAEA inspectors as part of measures to safeguard nuclear material.

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An IAEA team of seven experts has completed inspections of safeguarded nuclear material at the Tuwaitha facility in Iraq. The inspections were carried out from 26 to 30 January 2002 under Iraq's safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which was concluded pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Agency conducted similar safeguards inspections in Iraq in January 2000 and January 2001.

The team's activities were limited to verifying stocks of nuclear material sealed under IAEA safeguards. The safeguarded material is low-enriched, natural, and depleted uranium. The Iraqi counterpart provided the necessary cooperation for the team to perform its activities satisfactorily.

The Agency's January safeguards activities were not related to the inspections in Iraq mandated by the UN Security Council; these inspections, which grant the Agency broader inspection rights, ceased in December 1998 and have not been resumed. "The safeguards activities do not serve as a substitute for the verification and monitoring work required by resolutions of the Security Council, nor do they provide the needed assurances that the Council seeks," IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said. "A number of questions and concerns remain regarding Iraq's past nuclear programme, and it remains important to clarify them." He said that the Agency stands ready at short notice to resume its inspection activities in Iraq under Security Council resolutions.

Excerpt from Director General Statement to UN, October 2001 UN General AssemblyFor nearly three years, the Agency has not been in a position to implement its mandate in Iraq under United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 and related resolutions. As a consequence, we cannot at present provide any assurance that Iraq is in compliance with its obligations under these resolutions. The Agency remains prepared to resume its verification activities in Iraq under the relevant Security Council resolutions at short notice. A number of questions and concerns remain regarding Iraq's past nuclear programme, the clarification of which would reduce the uncertainty in the completeness of the Agency's knowledge of that programme. Provided that the Agency could satisfy itself that the status of Iraq's nuclear activities have not changed since December 1998, the remaining uncertainties would not prevent the Agency from moving to the full implementation of its Ongoing Monitoring and Verification plan. Clearly, the longer the suspension of resolution related inspections lasts, the more difficult it will be and the more time it will take for the Agency to re-establish the level of knowledge that had been achieved at the end of 1998. [Read full statement]