News


Tracking Number:  190502

Title:  "Iraq Nuclear Program Data Still Incomplete, UN Told." The special commission overseeing the destruction of Iraq's nuclear weapons program says it has found another large multi-billion dollar uranium enrichment plant which Baghdad omitted from its declarations to the UN Security Council. (910716)

Translated Title:  Les responses d l`Irak sont toujours insuffisantes.; Informacion programa nuclear Iraqui aun incompleta. (910716)
Author:  AITA, JUDY (USIA STAFF WRITER)
Date:  19910716

Text:
*POL205

07/16/91 HIRAQ NUCLEAR PROGRAM DATA STILL INCOMPLETE, U.N. TOLD SH(IAEA to hold emergency session on violations) (890) BYBy Judy Aita BIUSIA United Nations Correspondent

TUnited Nations -- The special commission overseeing the destruction of Iraq's nuclear weapons program says it has found another large multi-billion dollar uranium enrichment plant which Baghdad omitted from its declarations to the U.N. Security Council.

In a presentation to the Security Council July 15, members of the first inspection team and the special commission reported there are discrepancies in what Iraq has declared and what the experts are finding as they inspect facilities around the country. The team also said the type of facilities they have seen are not practical for peaceful atomic energy uses.

At a news conference after the private council meeting, Professor Maurizio Zifferero, deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the head of the inspection operation, called the discovery of a facility at Al-Sharqat puzzling. The facility, located over 300 kilometers north of Baghdad, was said to be identical to a declared enrichment plant at Tarmiyah.

"This facility has striking similarities with another facility which we have inspected and which was admittedly devoted to electromagnetic isotope separation," Zifferero said. "This second facility was not completed, but the fact that only one of the twins was recognized as the site of calutron activities is puzzling because Al-Sharqat is almost a carbon copy of the one they have declared."

IAEA Director General Hans Blix said that by Iraq's not declaring the nuclear materials now discovered, its "conduct did not constitute compliance with...obligations under the safeguard agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency." He has called for an emergency meeting of the board of governors for July 18. Should the board confirm his findings, a report will be sent to the Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly. Iraq could face suspension from the IAEA as well as be denied any technical assistance even after international sanctions are lifted.

"It would be really difficult to believe," Zifferero said, "that one would embark on electromagnetic separation for producing enriched uranium to be used for peaceful things like production of electric energy in a nuclear reactor.

"The reason is very simple," he said. "To produce one gram of uranium enriched at say 3.5 percent (which is the type of uranium needed by a nuclear power plant) through the electromagnetic approach would involve spending five times more energy than the energy you are likely to retrieve from the reactor. So it doesn't make sense" to use that approach.

Experts think Iraq's facilities are comparable in size to the electromagnetic isotope separation of the Manhattan Project, which developed the U.S. atomic weapons in the 1940s, said Jay Davis of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who is an inspector. "That represents...a four-to eight-billion-dollar investment on the Iraqis' part."

Contrary to press reports, he explained, the technology is not obsolete, though it is expensive. "If you're building nuclear weapons, the cost of the material doesn't matter to you," Davis said. "If you're trying to use enriched uranium for nuclear power, you're competing in a world market and cost is extremely important. This technique has not been used for 45 years because it is not economic."

Once the plants at Al Sharqat and Tarmiyah went into operation, experts have calculated, Iraq would have been able to produce enough enriched uranium for one bomb a year from each plant, Davis said.

Zifferero said IAEA believes that no industrial production had started at the two plants, but both would have been operational in 18 to 24 months. Blix added that the international community "is left with speculation" about what would have happened if the two huge facilities had been completed. The teams have found no evidence that Iraq has been able to fashion weaponry, he said. "Maybe it is somewhere, but it has not been found."

The commission members said that despite the long list of its nuclear technology Iraq submitted on July 7 and July 14, the investigations are far from over.

The group reported to the council on what the inspection teams saw as well as discrepancies, especially the missing graphite pockets and the explanation of the Al-Sharqat facility. It said that in light of Iraq's past performance the search must continue.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering said after the council meeting that "a lot of significant questions" about the Iraqi nuclear program remain. He cited the lack of cooperation, the failure to make full declarations, and "the great deal of inconsistency in the program between its claim to peaceful purposes and what appears to be a very much military oriented program."

Pickering said that Iraq's July 14 "list" appears to be "more details addressing an earlier list, rather than new revelations of additional sites....I don't see that the new list is a great change in the present situation."

The U.S. envoy said that the five permanent members of the Security Council -- China, France, Great Britain, the USSR and the United States -- will have "to address" Iraq's lists against the council's demand for a "full, complete declaration of all of the Iraqi nuclear activities." NNNN


File Identification:  07/16/91, PO-205; 07/16/91, AE-211; 07/16/91, AR-215; 07/16/91, EP-217; 07/16/91, EU-215; 07/16/91, NE-204; 07/17/91, AF-303; 07/17/91, NA-307; 07/17/91, AS-304
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Arabic; Spanish; French
Keywords:  PERSIAN GULF WAR; IRAQ/Defense & Military; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; INSPECTIONS; ARMS CONTROL VERIFICATION; UNITED NATIONS-SECURITY COUNCIL; ZIFFERERO, MAURIZIO; INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY; BLIX, HANS
Thematic Codes:  1NE; 1AC; 1UN
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  190502; 190626; 190518