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US assures IAEA that Iraqi nuclear material secured

US assures IAEA that Iraqi nuclear material secured

Noting media reports of security concerns after forces from the United States entered an Iraqi nuclear research centre that it had been monitoring since 1991, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said today it had sought and received assurances from the US that materials were properly protected and that access to the site was restricted.

The Agency said in a press release that most of the material at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Centre was placed under safeguard, and was not required to be removed following the 1991 Persian Gulf War because it was not ready for use in nuclear weapons.

During weapons inspections in Iraq from November to March, IAEA inspectors visited the facility several times and documented higher-than-normal radiation levels in some of the buildings because of past Iraqi nuclear activity there.

"As soon as circumstances permit, the IAEA should return to verify that there has been no diversion of this material," IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said.