IAEA and UN inspections of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes worked, Newsweek magazine reports in its latest edition. The magazine cites the record of international inspections and of the US-led Iraq Survey Group, whose past leader, David Kay, recently stepped down and reported his findings.
Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria writes:
"We were all wrong," says weapons inspector David Kay. Actually, no. There was one group whose prewar estimates of Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological capabilities have turned out to be devastatingly close to reality - the U.N. inspectors. Consider what Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear agency, told the Security Council on March 7, 2003, after his team had done 247 inspections at 147 sites: "no evidence of resumed nuclear activities... nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any related sites." He went on to say that evidence suggested Iraq had not imported uranium since 1990 and no longer had a centrifuge program. He concluded that Iraq's nuclear capabilities had been effectively dismantled by 1997 and its dual-use industrial plants had decayed. All these claims appear to be dead-on, based on Kay's findings... The real lesson is that international bodies like ElBaradei's can work.
The magazine features an interview with IAEA Director General ElBaradei on the role of IAEA and international inspections.
"I think the sanctions worked, and more importantly, the inspections worked," Dr. ElBaradei says. "A combination of sanctions and inspections managed to disarm Iraq."
Dr. ElBaradei underlined the importance of having IAEA and international inspectors return to Iraq. "We still have a request by the Security Council to verify that Iraq has no nuclear weapons. We are in a very uncomfortable situation because [although] we have the mandate, we are not able to return. I think eventually we'll have to go back, as we are the ones who, frankly, have the credibility to say they do or do not have [a nuclear program] because we are impartial. I am worried because they still have a lot of people with the know-how and the technology. So I'd like to do some ongoing monitoring and verification in Iraq for a few years before we say this chapter is closed."