22 June 1998
Source: http://www.usia.gov/current/news/latest/98061904.nlt.html?/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml

USIS Washington File

19 June 1998


(Byliner from Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director General) (850)

NOTE TO POSTS: In response to Post requests for placement and
translation rights for the 1 June Washington Post op-ed piece by IAEA
Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, "IRAQ'S NUCLEAR FILE: STILL OPEN,"
(NFS112 of June 1), The Washington File has obtained permission from
IAEA to use the original version of the article.

To avoid any copyright problems, Posts must/must use the original
version of ElBaradei's article, "NUCLEAR VERIFICATION IN IRAQ: ARE WE
CLOSING THE FILE?" rather than the Post's June 1 version. The original
is provided below.

Following is text of ElBaradei article

(Begin text)

Nuclear verification in Iraq:  Are we closing the file?
by Mohamed ElBaradei

News stories have been circulating that the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) is about to issue Iraq a clean bill of health and
to close the nuclear file. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Following the Gulf War, the Security Council entrusted the IAEA with
the task of neutralizing Iraq's nuclear weapons programme, while
entrusting a Special Commission established under the aegis of the
Security council (UNSCOM) to do the same with regard to Iraq's
chemical and biological weapons and long range missile systems. With
this mandate the Council also provided the IAEA and UNSCOM with very
broad rights of investigation and inspection, rights vastly more
far-reaching than those available to the IAEA prior to the Gulf War
when inspections did not detect Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme.

With respect to the "nuclear file" a number of issues are being raised
and debated. Does Iraq still posses nuclear weapons or weapon-usable
nuclear material? Does Iraq still remain the practical capability i.e.
the scientific and engineering hardware, to produce dangerous amounts
of weapon-usable nuclear material? The IAEA's answer to these
questions, after seven years of investigation and inspection is that
there are "no indications" that Iraq retains the material or practical
capability to produce nuclear weapons, but it must be understood that
"no indication" is not the same as "no existence". This is because no
matter how comprehensive the inspection, there is always a degree of
uncertainty in any country-wide verification process, whether in Iraq
or anywhere else, that aims to verify the absences of readily
concealable objects such as small amounts of nuclear material or
weapons components.

In saying that there are at present no indications that Iraq has
nuclear weapons, weapon-usable nuclear material or the practical
capabilities to produce them, the IAEA has relied on its intensive and
wide searching investigation and inspection, which over time enable
the Agency to develop a coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear
programme, and to neutralize it through the destruction, removal or
rendering harmless of all weapon-related items that came to its

Because we need continuing reaffirmation that we have in fact
neutralized the past programme and that it will not be reconstituted,
we have introduced, with the approval of the Security Council, and
equally comprehensive and vigorous on going monitoring and
verification (OMV) regime that aims to detect any indication of Iraq
continuing or rebuilding its nuclear weapons programme. The OMV regime
has the twin objectives of checking that Iraq's known technical and
industrial assets are not used for prohibited purposes and, perhaps
more importantly, searching, on a country-wide basis, for indications
of any prohibited activities. Monitoring inspections are intrusive and
involve access to any and all facilities, including industrial sites,
scientific establishments and universities, and the use of sensitive
environmental sampling and analysis techniques anywhere in Iraq. The
OMV regime employs all the technical tools used in the mapping out of
the clandestine programme and retains the rights to investigate and
neutralize any aspect of the past programme that might still be
discovered. It is predicated on the assumption that Iraq has the
technical ability to design and construct a nuclear weapon and takes
into account the large intellectual resource which exists in Iraq in
the corps of scientists and engineers which worked in Iraq's
clandestine nuclear programme. The IAEA is cognisant of the technical
challenge to the OMV regime that would result if Iraq were to directly
acquire weapon-usable nuclear material from abroad.

The discussion about the IAEA issuing to Iraq a clean bill of health
in preparation for the closure of the nuclear file runs counter to the
nature of IAEA verification and generates misunderstanding about its
continuing character. Progress in neutralizing the clandestine
programme does not mean an end to inspection. It simply means shifting
gears to ensure not only that the past programme has been neutralized,
but also that it is not being revived. In the same vein, a future
determination by the Security Council that Iraq has satisfied the
requirements for lifting the oil embargo would not bring the
monitoring and verification regime to an end. The monitoring and
verification regime will continue to operate unabated until, acting in
accordance with its responsibility for the maintenance of
international security, the Security Council determines otherwise.

-- Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei is Director General of the International
Atomic Energy Agency.

(End text)