IAEA Reply to Washington Post´s Editorial "Missing and Explosive".
To the Washington Post Editorial Page Editors,
I must take strong exception to some points in your 28 October editorial, "Missing and Explosive", in which you assert that "the sensation over the missing explosives emanates from the IAEA" and label IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei "an adversary of the Bush administration". The editorial also states that Dr. ElBaradei took an "unusual step" by informing the Security Council about the missing explosives, thereby providing "easy fodder" for Mr. Kerry´s presidential campaign.
These characterizations misrepresent what was, in reality, a straightforward series of events. It was the Government of Iraq that on 10 October reported to the IAEA that 350 metric tonnes of high explosives were missing from storage sites subject to IAEA monitoring. Concerned about the security of the Iraqi people and multinational troops, as well as the potential proliferation implications, Dr. ElBaradei checked the information with the Iraqi authorities, then brought it promptly (and exclusively) to the attention of the US Government, in its capacity as commander of the Multinational Force. His hope was that the explosives could be recovered and secured, before the issue became more widely known through reporting it to the Security Council.
Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA have worked closely with the Bush Administration, as with previous Administrations, particularly on efforts to curb nuclear proliferation and combat nuclear and radiological terrorism. Regardless of the outcome of next week´s election, the IAEA will continue its half-century tradition of close cooperation with the United States.
Melissa Fleming Spokesperson, IAEA