What is INVO?
In 1991, through Resolution 687, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) assigned to the IAEA, the responsibility to uncover and dismantle any clandestine nuclear programme found in Iraq and to develop and implement a system of Ongoing Monitoring and Verification (OMV). The Agency responded with the creation, on 15 April 1991, of the IAEA Iraq Action Team, now known as the Iraq Nuclear Verification Office, or INVO.
INVO, in cooperation with the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) responsible for the chemical, biological and missile inspections in Iraq, assembled multinational teams of inspectors made up of experts and nuclear scientists from the IAEA and Member States to develop a refined understanding of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons programme and to remove, destroy or render harmless nuclear related material and equipment as mandated by the Security Council.
As the weapons programme was disassembled over the next several years, the IAEA's focus shifted to a system of Ongoing Monitoring and Verification. The purpose of the OMV activities is to provide the UN Security Council with the adequate level of assurance that Iraq is not conducting activities prohibited by UNSC resolutions and to acquire a further understanding of Iraq's past nuclear programme.
The Agency implemented its OMV plan from 1994 with a continuous presence in Iraq until December 1998, when it withdrew its personnel out of concern for their safety and security. In 1999 Resolution 1284 confirmed the mandate of the Agency as defined by the previous relevant resolutions and replaced UNSCOM with the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).
As a result of the last round of inspections from November 2002 to March 2003, the Director General reported to the Security Council that the IAEA had found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq. However, he added that more time was still needed for the Agency to complete its investigations on whether Iraq had attempted to revive its nuclear programme between 1998 and 2002. Neither the changes in Iraq over the past year nor the investigations by the Iraq Survey Group set-up to complete Iraqi disarmament have done anything to contradict the Agency's assessment of the situation. However, conclusions should not be drawn before the IAEA team has had a chance to return to Iraq and complete its assessment, once the Security Council revisits its mandate, as foreseen in resolution 1483 and 1546.
INVO is funded through a United Nations escrow account set up by the UN Office of the Iraq Programme.
At its headquarters in Vienna, INVO has 23 staff representing 16 different nationalities. The team possesses expertise in the areas of nuclear fuel cycle, weaponization, radiation detection and measurement, analytical chemistry, data analysis, electronics and Arabic to mention a few. INVO recruits experts from various Member States of the UN for fieldwork as necessary.
Jacques Baute has been the Director of INVO since November 1999. Previous leaders include Maurizio Zifferero (from 1991 to 1997) and Garry Dillon (from 1997 to 1999).
To whom does INVO report?
INVO reports directly to the Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei. INVO has the responsibility to provide the Director General with the technical analysis of the relevant information, which he reports to the United Nations Security Council in New York. Read INVO Reports >>
What's happening now?
Since 17 March 2003, the IAEA and all other UN organizations suspended field activities in Iraq ahead of the announced military operations. During this interruption of inspections INVO has focused its activities on consolidating and further analyzing the information collected, with the objective of identifying lessons learned for the future and determining to what extent the Agency's plan for resuming verification activities needs to be adapted in light of those lessons and the changing situation in Iraq. The INVO team remains poised to return to Iraq to complete its Security Council mandate.
- Timeline Iraq: Challenges & Lessons Learned From Nuclear Inspections by Jacques Baute
Who can I contact for more information?
IAEA Division of Public Information
Director and Spokesperson
Wagramer Strasse 5
P.O. Box 100
A-1400, Vienna, Austria
Tel. [43-1] 2600-21270
Tel:  664-226-9239 (mobile)
E-mail: [email protected]