UN to Aim for Broader Monitoring of Iraq
Documents obtained by UN inspectors show Iraq had comprehensive program and technical knowledge to develop H-bomb and delivery systems
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y.
THE UN Security Council, reacting to recent inspection reports about Iraq's nuclear program, is expected to endorse broader plans for ongoing monitoring tomorrow. Diplomats say any resolution is likely to highlight the inspectors' charge that documents found in Baghdad "clearly demonstrate that the government of Iraq is in violation of Security Council resolutions."The Council will likely condemn Iraq for not disclosing all its weaponry of mass destruction, as required by Resolution 707. It will demand that Iraq turn over documents it grabbed from inspectors during a tense standoff in Baghdad late last month. Other documents successfully obtained in last month's inspections indicate that Iraq was working to develop an implosion-type nuclear weapon and a surface-to-surface missile to deliver it, the Council was told Tuesday. The Iraqi program was "well advanced" and supported by a covert effort to procure nuclear-arms-related material from abroad, said Hans Blix, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN-related organization doing the inspections.
A political objective? "All is speculation," counters one Iraqi diplomat. "Why is there so much emphasis about our intentions, and why are they trying at this stage to create a story about a so-called Iraqi master plan? They are trying to achieve the political objective of overthrowing the Iraqi regime. This is quite obvious if you look at President Bush's statements." The resolution the Council is preparing on future compliance, the diplomat says, is designed to overcome any objection to this plan. The international inspections and monitoring "will become an open-ended proposition - it will never end," he adds. The documents obtained in the inspection also show that Iraq had a program underway to produce Lithium 6, a material which Mr. Blix said has only one purpose - to produce thermonuclear weapons. He said there were signs that a limited amount had been produced, and that Iraq had the intention to produce more. David Kay, chief inspector of the UN-IAEA team that discovered the documents - and studied them during the four-day standoff in a Baghdad parking lot - told journalists after he and Blix briefed the Council that they had been surprised by the extent of Iraq's nuclear expertise. Iraqi achievements were the result of "a combination of a vast, trained manpower pool and a lot of money.... All of us were impressed by their technical skills, training, and ability to produce exceptional work," Mr. Kay said, adding that Iraqis obtained guidance from institutions in the US, France, Britain, and Germany. In their efforts to enrich uranium, Kay said, Iraq "took an old technology and pushed it to new levels. It was a very good, solid, scientific achievement." Employee lists obtained by the UN inspectors identify the Iraqi official who is monitoring their efforts, Dr. Jaffar Dhia Jaffar, as a senior administrator of the hydrogen-type bomb project, "despite his repeated claims that no such program existed." Blix brushed off criticism of the team for having relayed some information directly to Washington from the parking lot in Baghdad - in violation of the UN code of conduct for the impartiality of its international civil servants. Kay, a US citizen, did not send the material, Blix noted. He said a field report was sent, not raw documents, and only after efforts to get through to the IAEA in Vienna and the UN in New York had failed. "In such tense circumstances, one may have to improvise," Blix said.
Identifying personnel In a letter to the UN over the weekend, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ahmad Hussein Khudayer protested the seizure of personnel files as "an act which serves the purposes of the United States intelligence community, for which the Chief Inspector [Kay] works, with the objective of launching a campaign of intimidation against these employees and the members of their families and placing their lives in jeopardy." (See story to right.) Kay has denied that he is an intelligence agent. No names other than the program leaders already identified are likely to be released publicly, Blix said. He said that the experts' future activities will be watched, as part of the UN's long-term monitoring responsibilities, to make sure their talents will be devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes, such as medicine and agriculture. Names of companies which supplied material for Iraq's weapons programs will be provided - but only at a government's specific request, Blix indicated. He said he personally favored disclosure to help efforts at nonproliferation. IAEA experts are developing guidelines for destroying all facilities connected in any way with production or research of chemical, biological, nuclear or ballistic arms. Swedish diplomat Rolf Ekeus, head of the UN Special Commission, was reportedly discussing these plans with high-level Iraqi officials in Baghdad this week. UN officials say that nearly a half billion dollars worth of infrastructure is marked for destruction.