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IAEA remains ready to resume verification work in Iraq: report

IAEA remains ready to resume verification work in Iraq: report

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains prepared to resume its inspections in Iraq on short notice in order to verify the status of the country's past clandestine nuclear programme, according to the Agency's latest progress report, which was released today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

In his report to the Security Council, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei notes that the Agency is currently not in a position to implement its mandate under various Security Council resolutions on Iraq. The Agency has been able to carry out work in Iraq pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), but those activities neither substitute for the verification required by the Security Council nor provide assurances that Iraq is in compliance with Council resolutions.

The work of the IAEA, and of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) mandated to monitor the dismantling of Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction, broke off in December 1998. Subsequently, the Security Council created, by its resolution 1284 (1999), the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to take over from UNSCOM.

According to the report released today, the IAEA is continuing to prepare for the implementation of portions of resolution 1284 (1999) that relate to the Agency. In particular, the IAEA has been incorporating recent advances in commercially available satellite imagery into its Iraq-related information systems. The IAEA has also continued to conduct an enhanced analysis of the available original Iraqi documentation and results accumulated through the past inspection process.

Looking to the future, the IAEA Director General said that if the Agency "were to resume those verification activities, and provided that it could satisfy itself that Iraq's past and present nuclear activities and assets have not changed since December 1998, then the Agency would be in a position to move to the full implementation of its ongoing monitoring and verification plan.

That plan would enable the Agency to investigate the few remaining questions and concerns related to Iraq's past clandestine nuclear programme, along with any other aspect of that programme that may come to the IAEA's knowledge, Mr. ElBaradei stated. "But, as long as such verification activities are not reinstated, the Agency will remain unable to provide any measure of assurance with regard to Iraq's compliance with its obligations under those resolutions."