UN Warns Iraq on Attempts to Conceal Nuclear Capacity
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y.
THE United Nations Security Council has warned Iraq that an international inspection team must be given immediate access to undeclared equipment that may have been used to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium.Any recurrence of three incidents last week in which UN nuclear inspectors were denied access to Iraqi military sites "would have serious consequences," the Council said. UN inspectors were prevented from conducting short-notice challenge inspections on June 23 and 25 at an Army base on the outskirts of Baghdad. "In areas to which access was denied, considerable activity was under way, involving cranes, trucks, forklifts, other equipment, and work crews," the UN team reported. The site visit was permitted on June 26, but by then, the equipment had been moved. Within hours, American experts showed the Security Council intelligence photographs that United States diplomats said backed up the UN team's claims. On Friday, the inspectors reportedly tracked the equipment to a military transportation facility 30 miles west of Baghdad, but they were once again refused entry. As members of the UN team photographed the hasty departure of a truck convoy loaded with the equipment the inspectors had asked to see, Iraqi military officers fired shots in the air and tried to seize the cameras from members of the UN team. Alexander Watson, the US's deputy permanent representative, told the council: "It is patently clear that Iraq is engaged in nuclear deception.... This calls into serious question other commitments and reports that the government of Iraq has purportedly made in compliance with Resolution 687." That resolution in February laid down the terms for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of coalition forces after the Gulf war. Paul Leventhal of the Nuclear Control Institute said on ABC's "Nightline" Friday that new indications of Iraq's nuclear program had been received from analysis of "chemical traces off the clothing of hostages" who had been held to shield strategic Iraqi sites last year. Iraq's UN Ambassador Abdul Amir al-Anbari told the Council that "Iraq is fully cooperating and will continue to do so. We have made our commitment and there is no way of going back on it." Mr. Al-Anbari blamed the incidents on problems of coordination and communications. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein later reportedly ordered full compliance with UN's demands. President Bush told reporters Saturday that he's "heard that before," but he added it was "premature to say what might be done by the United States and others." The President met with his top national security advisers Friday, after Pentagon planners had reportedly been asked to draw up a list of Iraqi sites for possible military strikes. Mr. Leventhal said that he was less concerned about the low-technology processing equipment than about the approximately 90 pounds of bomb-grade uranium that Iraq is now reported to possess. That amount is approximately "the size of a grapefruit," Leventhal said. "This is easily concealed, and it's very worrisome that we may not be able to find that material at all - even under the best of circumstances." "We have to face the fact that Saddam Hussein may have enough weapons-grade-material for one or two Nagasaki-type bombs," he said.