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Transcript of ElBaradei's remarks

Mohamed ElBaradei speaks before the U.N. Security Council on Monday.
Mohamed ElBaradei speaks before the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

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(CNN) -- Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, addressed the U.N. Security Council on Monday morning. This is an edited transcript of his remarks.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI: Mr. President, members of the council, for the past 60 days the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency have been engaged in the process of verifying the existence or absence of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.

Today, pursuant to Paragraph 5 of Resolution 1441, I have submitted to the president of the Security Council an updated report on our progress since we resumed our nuclear verification activities in Iraq, in terms of the approach we have adopted, the tools we have used, the specific results achieved, the degree of cooperation we have received and finally, our view on how we should proceed. Copies of the report are available in this room.

Let me, in this statement, outline the key aspects of this report.

To understand the approach of the IAEA inspection over the past two months, it is important first to recall what was accomplished during our inspections from 1991 to 1998 in fulfillment of our Security Council mandate to eliminate Iraq's nuclear weapon program.

In September 1991, IAEA seized documents in Iraq that demonstrated the extent of its nuclear weapons program. By the end of 1992, we had largely destroyed, removed or rendered harmless all Iraqi facilities and equipment relevant to nuclear weapons production. We confiscated Iraq's nuclear weapon-usable material, highly enriched uranium and plutonium. And by early 1994, we had removed it from the country.

By December 1998, when the inspections were brought to a halt, with a military strike imminent, we were confident that we had not missed any significant components of Iraq's nuclear program. While we did not claim absolute certainty, our conclusion at that time was that we had neutralized Iraq's nuclear weapon program and that there were no indications that Iraq retained any physical capability to produce weapon-usable nuclear material.

During the intervening four years of our absence from Iraq, we continued our analytical work to the best of our ability using satellite imagery and other information, but no remote analysis can replace on-site inspections. And we were, therefore, not able to reach any conclusion about Iraq's compliance with its Security Council obligations in the nuclear field after December 1998.

Again, at this backdrop, when Iraq agreed last September to reopen its door to inspection and following the subsequent adoption of the Security Council of Resolution 1441, which strengthened IAEA's authority and the inspection process, the first goal of our inspection activities was reconnaissance. In this phase, we sought to re-establish [inaudible] our knowledge base of Iraq nuclear capability to ensure that key facilities has not been reopened, to verify the location of nuclear material and relevant non-nuclear material and to identify and begin interviewing key Iraqi personnel.

Over these first two months of inspection, we have made good progress in our knowledge of Iraq's nuclear capability with a total of 139 inspections at some 106 locations to date. The bulk of these inspections have taken place at state-run or private industrial facilities, visitor centers and universities, either at locations with Iraq significant technical capabilities were know to have existed in the past or at new locations suggested by the monitoring analysis.

All inspections activities have been carried out without prior notification to Iraq, except when notification was needed to ensure the availability of required support. The IAEA inspections have taken and will continue to take full advantage of the inspection authority granted by Resolution 1441. In doing so, the inspectors have been instructed to make every effort to conduct their activities with appropriate professionalism and sensitivity.

While we are continuing to some extent with this reconnaissance work, our inspections are now well into the investigative phase with particular emphasis on determining what, if anything, has occurred in Iraq over the past four years relevant to the reestablishment of Iraq nuclear capabilities. These investigative inspections focus on areas of concerns identified by other states, facilities identified through satellite images as having been modified or constructed since 1998 and other inspection leads identified independently by the IAEA.

In parallel with these inspection activities, the IAEA has been conducting exhaustive analysis of supporting information obtained from various sources. In this context, we have integrated the new information submitted by Iraq, including the declaration submitted on 7 December in response to Resolution 1441, with the records we have accumulated between 1991 and 1998, and the additional information we had compiled through remote monitoring since 1998.

The Iraqi declaration was consistent with our existing understanding of Iraq's pre-1991 nuclear program. However, it did not provide any new information relevant to certain questions that have been outstanding since 1998, in particular, regarding Iraq progress prior to 1991 related to weapons design and centrifuge development.

While these questions do not constitute unresolved disarmament issues, they nevertheless need further clarification.

In addition to on-site inspection and off-site analysis, the IAEA inspectors have employed a variety of tools to accomplish their mission. Taking advantage of the signature of radioactive materials, we have resumed the monitoring of Iraq's rivers, canals and lakes to detect the presence of certain radioisotopes. A broad variety of environmental samples and [inaudible] swipe samples have been collected from locations across Iraq and taken to IAEA laboratories for an instituted routine [inaudible] and hand-held gamma surveys for the detection of undeclared nuclear material.

The inspectors have also conducted a great number of interviews of Iraqi scientists, managers and technicians, primarily in the workplace in the course of unaccounted inspections, as a valuable source of information about past and present programs and activities. The information gained has been helpful in assessing the completeness and accuracy of Iraq's declaration.

Resolution 1441 also clearly gave to the IAEA and UNMOVIC the authority to determine the modalities and venues for conducting interviews with Iraqi officials and other persons. The first two individuals whom the IAEA requested to see privately declined to be interviewed without the presence of an Iraqi government representative. This has been a restricting factor.

Although the Iraqi government recently committed itself to encouraging Iraqi officials and other personnel to be interviewed in private when requested, regrettably the third request, two days ago, for a private interview was again turned down by the interviewee.

he IAEA will continue to determine the modalities and locations of the interviews, including the possibility of interviewing Iraqi personnel abroad. We will continue to report to the Security Council on our efforts to conduct interviews according to our preferred modalities and venues and our degree of success in that regard.

Mr. President, let me summarize briefly a number of the findings that have resulted from our inspection activities thus far.

First, we have inspected all of those building and facilities that were identified through satellite imagery as having been modified or constructed over the past four years. The IAEA inspectors have been able to gain ready access and to clarify the nature of the activities currently being conducted in these facilities. No prohibited nuclear activities have been identified during these inspections.

A particular issue of focus has been the attempted procurement by Iraq of high-strength aluminum tubes and the question of whether these tubes, if acquired, could be used for the manufacture of nuclear centrifuge. Iraqi authorities have indicated that their unsuccessful attempts to procure the aluminum related to a program to reverse-engineer conventional rockets.

To verify this information, the IAEA inspectors have inspected the relevant rocket production and storage sites, taken tube samples, interviewed relevant Iraqi personnel and reviewed procurement contracts and related documents.

From our analysis to date, it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and unless modified would not be suitable for manufacture centrifuges. However, we are still investigating this issue.

It is clear, however, that the attempt to acquire such tubes is prohibited under Security Council Resolution 687.

Another area of focus has been to determine how certain other dual-use materials have been relocated or used. That is, material that could be used in nuclear weapon production, but also have other legitimate uses.

The good example is Iraqi declaration concerning the highly explosive HMX, which stated that out of the HMX under [inaudible] in Iraq at the end of 1998, some had been supplied to cement plants as an industrial explosive for mining. The whereabouts and final use of the removed material are matters that will require further investigation. Although, it will be difficult to verify the disposition of the HMX that is declared to have been used.

The first focal point has been the investigation of reports of Iraqi efforts to import uranium after 1991. The Iraqi authorities have denied any such attempts. The IAEA will continue to pursue this issue. At this stage, however, we do not have enough information and we would appreciate receiving more. We are also making progress on a number of other issues related, for example, to the attempts at the importation of a magnet production facility.

So presently, in addition to the new authorities granted by Resolution 1441, I believe that the unified resolve of the council to support an inspection process has been a vital ingredient and must remain so if we are to achieve a peaceful resolution of the situation in Iraq. I trust that the council will continue its unified and unequivocal support for the inspection process in Iraq.

Over the next several months, the inspections will focus ever more closely on follow-up specific concerns as we continue to conduct visits to sites and interviews with key Iraqi personnel. We have begun helicopter operations, which increase the inspector's mobility and their ability to respond rapidly to new information and allow wide-scale radiation detection surveying. Laboratory analysis of environmental samples is continuing, and we will be installing air samples for wide-area environmental monitoring. We also will reintroduce surveillance systems with video cameras in key locations to allow near, real-time remote monitoring of dual-use equipment.

By its very nature, the inspection process both in Iraq and elsewhere is not based on trust, but on thorough process of fact-finding supported by access to all available information. Where applicable, this should include information available to states that may be relevant to the purpose of the inspection. We have begun, in the last few weeks, to receive more actionable information from states; that is information of direct and current value for inspection follow-up. I will continue to call on states that have access to such information to provided to the inspection organizations so that an inspection process can be accelerated and additional assurances can be generated.

Finally, we have urged Iraq, once again, to increase the degree of its cooperation with the inspection process. In support of the IAEA inspections to date, the Iraqi authorities have provided access to all facilities visited, including presidential compounds and private residences without condition and without delay. The Iraqi authorities also have been cooperative in making available additional original documentation in response to requests by IAEA inspectors.

In our discussion with Iraqi officials last week in Baghdad, we emphasized the need to shift from passive support, that is, responding as needed to an inspector's request, to proactive support, that is voluntarily assisting an inspector by providing documentation, people and other evidence that will assist in filling the remaining gaps in our information.

One example of how Iraq could be more proactive was illustrated by the inspection of a private residence just two weeks ago, which resulted in the retrieval of a sizable number of documents, some of which were classified and related in part to Iraq's pre-1991 effort to use laser technology for enriching uranium.

While these documents do not appear to reflect new or current activities related to nuclear weapons in Iraq, they may enhance our detailed understanding of certain aspects of Iraq's pre-1991 nuclear program. It is urgent and essential that Iraq on its own initiative identify and provide any additional evidence that would assist inspectors in carrying out their mandate.

This proactive engagement on the part of Iraq would be, as we have told them, in its own best interest and is a window of opportunity that may not remain open for very much longer. Iraq should make every effort to be fully transparent with a demonstrated willingness to resolve issues rather than requiring pressure to do so.

The international community will not be satisfied when questions remain open with regard to Iraq weapons of mass destruction. The world is asking for a high level of assurance that Iraq is completely free from all such weapons and is already impatient to receive it.

The sooner such assurance can be provided by the inspecting organizations, the sooner the prospects of a peaceful resolution will translate into a plausible reality.

Inspections are time consuming. I should mention that even in the case of South Africa, with full and active cooperation was forthcoming, it took the IAEA about two years to complete the process in that country.

If inspection, however, is successful, it can ensure disarmament through peaceful means. It is worth recalling that in our past experience in Iraq the elimination of its nuclear weapon program was mostly accomplished through intrusive inspection. It is also worth recalling that the presence of international inspectors in Iraq today continues to serve as an effective deterrence to an insurance against resumption of programs to develop weapons of mass destruction, even as we continue to look for possible past activities.

Mr. President, to conclude, we have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapon program since the elimination of the program in the 1990s. However, our work is steadily progressing and should be allowed to run its natural course. With our verification system now in place, barring exceptional circumstances and provided there is sustained, proactive cooperation by Iraq, we should be able within the next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapon program.

These few months, in my view, would be a valuable investment in peace because they could help us avoid a war. We trust that we will continue to have your support as we make every effort to verify Iraq's nuclear disarmament through peaceful means and to demonstrate that the inspection process can and does work as a central feature of the international nuclear arms control regime.


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