Magazine article UN Chronicle

Inspectors Charge Iraq Has Ongoing Nuclear Weapons Programme

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Inspectors Charge Iraq Has Ongoing Nuclear Weapons Programme

Article excerpt

The 45-member team, in Iraq from 22 to 30 September to conduct the sixth nuclear inspection, was detained for four days by Iraqi authorities in a Baghdad parking lot outside a nuclear facility, after having obtained what was described as "top secret" documentation on Iraq's nuclear-weapons programme. Some of the materials was returned, but the "most sensitive" was confiscated, they reported.

In a preliminary report released in Vienna on 3 October, IAEA Director-General Hans Blix stated there was evidence of: a broad-based effort on an implosion-type nuclear weapon; success in machining nuclear-weapons components from natural uranium; evidence of sophisticated computer codes of develop nuclear weapons; parallel development of a nuclear missile delivery system; substantial nuclear-weapons-related procurement from foreign sources; and on-site, on-the-spot training of Iraqi engineers by foreign equipment manufacturers.

The team, headed by Chief Inspector David Kay, also concluded that:

* Iraq still has substantial nuclear facilities, which were "part of the clandestine programme and which have not been declared";

* "Significant documentary material and equipment" had been removed from identified nuclear programme sites, some shortly before the team's arrival; and

* There was "repeated and wilful non-compliance" by Iraq with Security Council resolutions 687 (1991) and 707 (1991), as well as violation of privileges and immunities specified for UN/IAEA inspection teams.

In resolution 687 of 3 April, the terms for a formal cease-fire in the Gulf conflict were set out, including provisions calling on Iraq "unconditionally not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material or any subsystems, components or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities".

Iraq was to declare all locations, amounts and types of such items; place all nuclear-weapons-usable materials for custody and removal under the "exclusive control" of the IAEA; and accept "urgent on-site inspection" and "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless" of all such items.

The IAEA, assisted by the Special Commission on Iraqi disarmament set up under resolution 687, was to carry out "immediate on-site inspection" of the nuclear capabilities based on Iraq's declarations, as well as additional locations designated by the Special Commission. A plan was to be developed regarding destruction, removal or rendering harmless, as appropriate, of all items specified.

Resolution 687 made similar provision for Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and facilities, and for long-range ballistic missiles.

Between 14 May and 9 October, 18 UN inspections took place in Iraq--six on nuclear capabilities; five each on chemical weapons and ballistic missiles; and two on biological weapons.

On 15 August, after several incidents in which Iraq blocked UN inspection teams access to facilities and documents, the Council demanded that Iraq comply with the disarmament measures.

By adopting resolution 707, the Council condemned what it termed "serious violations" by Iraq of its disarmament obligations under resolution 687.

The Council also condemned Iraq's non-compliance with obligations under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, in violation of its commitments as a party to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

It specified nine immediate orders, demanding Iraq, among others, to:

* Disclose fully "all aspects of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missles with a range greater than 150 kilometers.";

* Allow "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all areas, facilities, equipment, records and means of transportation" to the Special Commission, the IAEA and their inspection teams; and

* Cease immediately "any attempt to conceal, or any movement or destruction of any material or equipment relating to its nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or ballistic missiles programmes . …

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