UN atomic energy agency wraps up routine safeguards inspection in Iraq

UN atomic energy agency wraps up routine safeguards inspection in Iraq

IAEA Headquarters
With Baghdad's cooperation, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has finished its periodic inspection of a nuclear facility in Iraq as part of routine work carried out under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Agency said today.

Seven IAEA experts examined nuclear material at the Tuwaitha facility during their five-day visit, which concluded on 30 January. The team's activities were limited to verifying stocks of nuclear material - low-enriched, natural and depleted uranium - sealed under IAEA safeguards.

"The Iraqi counterpart provided the necessary cooperation for the team to perform its activities satisfactorily," the Agency said in a statement released after the visit.

The IAEA inspection - which followed similar activity in the country in January of 2000 and 2001 - was not connected to its Iraq-related mandate from the Security Council as part of the ceasefire resolution which ended the Persian Gulf war, and subsequent texts. Those inspections, which grant the Agency broader inspection rights, ceased in December 1998 and have not been resumed.

The Agency's Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, emphasized that 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."

"A number of questions and concerns remain regarding Iraq's past nuclear programme, and it remains important to clarify them," he said, stressing that the Agency stands ready at short notice to resume its Security Council-mandated inspection activities in Iraq.