Posted by andreas from p3EE3C231.dip.t-dialin.net (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, October 01, 2002 at 3:04AM :
Iraq Report Cited by Bush Does Not Exist
Agency Disavows Report on Iraq Arms
The Washington Times
Friday, 27 September, 2002
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by
President Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was "six months away" from
developing a nuclear weapon does not exist.
"There's never been a report like that issued from this agency," Mark
Gwozdecky, the IAEA's chief spokesman, said yesterday in a telephone
interview from the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
"We've never put a time frame on how long it might take Iraq to construct a
nuclear weapon in 1998," said the spokesman of the agency charged with
assessing Iraq's nuclear capability for the United Nations.
In a Sept. 7 news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr.
Bush said: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into
Iraq and were denied -- finally denied access [in 1998], a report came out
of the Atomic -- the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a
"I don't know what more evidence we need," said the president, defending
his administration's case that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was building
weapons of mass destruction.
The White House says Mr. Bush was referring to an earlier IAEA report.
"He's referring to 1991 there," said Deputy Press Secretary Scott
McClellan. "In '91, there was a report saying that after the war they found
out they were about six months away."
Mr. Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by the IAEA in 1991. Many
news agencies -- including The Washington Times -- reported Mr. Bush's
Sept. 7 comments as referring to a 1998 IAEA report. The White House did
not ask for a correction from The Times.
To clear up the confusion, Mr. McClellan cited two news articles from 1991
-- a July 16 story in the London Times by Michael Evans and a July 18 story
in the New York Times by Paul Lewis. But neither article cites an IAEA
report on Iraq's nuclear-weapons program or states that Saddam was only six
months away from "developing a weapon" -- as claimed by Mr. Bush. The
article by Mr. Evans says: "Jay Davis, an American expert working for the
U.N. special commission charged with removing Iraq's nuclear capability,
said Iraq was only six months away from the large-scale production of
enriched uranium at two plants inspected by UN officials."
The Lewis article said Iraq in 1991 had a uranium "enrichment plant using
electromagnetic technology [that] was about six months from becoming
In October 1998, just before Saddam kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of
Iraq, the IAEA laid out a case opposite of Mr. Bush's Sept. 7 declaration.
"There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical
capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any
practical significance," IAEA Director-General Mohammed Elbaradei wrote in
a report to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair on Sept. 7 cited an agency "report" declaring that
satellite photography revealed the Iraqis had undertaken new construction
at several nuclear-related sites. This week, the IAEA said no such report
The IAEA also took issue with a Sept. 9 report by the International
Institute for Strategic Studies -- cited by the Bush administration -- that
concludes Saddam "could build a nuclear bomb within months if he were able
to obtain fissile material."
"There is no evidence in our view that can be substantiated on Iraq's
nuclear-weapons program. If anybody tells you they know the nuclear
situation in Iraq right now, in the absence of four years of inspections, I
would say that they're misleading you because there isn't solid evidence
out there," Mr. Gwozdecky said.
"I don't know where they have determined that Iraq has retained this much
weaponization capability because when we left in December '98 we had
concluded that we had neutralized their nuclear-weapons program. We had
confiscated their fissile material. We had destroyed all their key
buildings and equipment," he said.
Mr. Gwozdecky said there is no evidence about Saddam's nuclear capability
right now -- either through his organization, other agencies or any
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