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U.N. Report Finds Iraqi Nuclear
Program in Disarray

Parapharsed by:
Steve Waldrop
September 9, 2003

U. N. Inspectors found Iraq's nuclear program is disarray and unlikely to be able to support an active effort to build weapons, the atomic agency chief said in a confidential report obtained by the Associated Press.

International Atomic Energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei stressed that his experts uncovered no signs of a nuclear weapons program before they withdrew from Iraq just before the war began in March of this year.

Britain and the United States invaded Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein's regime was developing nuclear arms as well as chemical and biological weapons.

In the report ElBaradei said, "In the areas of uranium acquisition, concentration and centrifuge enrichment, extensive field investigation and document analysis revealed no evidence that Iraq had resumed such activities."

"No indication of post-1991 weaponization activities was uncovered in Iraq," he said.

The document was to be reviewed by the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors, which convened a meeting at the agency's headquarters in Vienna to reassess nuclear security issues in Iran, Iraq, North Korea and other areas of concern.

Because the IAEA teams had to leave Iraq before they could complete their inspections, the agency cannot say conclusively that Iraq had no active nuclear weapons program.

But what the inspectors saw in the months before their withdrawal suggested the Iraqis were in no position to build a nuclear weapon, ElBaradei said in his update to the board.

"The agency observed a substantial degradation in facilities, financial resources and programs throughout Iraq that might support a nuclear infrastructure," he said.

"The former cadre of nuclear experts was being increasingly dispersed and many key figures were reaching retirement or had left the country," he said.The IAEA is awaiting a U.N. Security Council review that could lead to an eventual return of its inspectors to Iraq.

No matter the outcome, IAEA inspectors remain authorized under a nuclear safeguards agreement with Iraq "to ensure that ... Iraq has declared all its nuclear material and activities, and that all Iraq nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes," ElBaradei said in a separate statement.

ElBaradei told the Security Council just before the war that his inspectors had no conclusive evidence Iraq had resumed a nuclear weapons program.

Shortly before the war began, ElBaradei told the Security Council that his inspectors had no conclusive evidence Iraq has resumed a nuclear weapons program.

Iraq had denied it was trying to build atomic weaponry. It could have done more while IAEA inspectors were still in the country to clear up lingering doubts about its intentions, ElBaradei suggested in the confidential report.

"The clarification by Iraq of these questions and concerns would have reduced the remaning uncertainties about Iraq's program," the report said.