IAEA Says Nuclear-Related Items Missing In Iraq

In a letter to the UN Security Council, IAEA Chief ElBaradei reported:

“As a result of its ongoing review of satellite imagery acquired on a regular basis, and follow up investigations, the IAEA continues to be concerned about the widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq’s nuclear programme and sites previously subject to ongoing monitoring and verification by the IAEA. The imagery shows in many instances the dismantlement of entire buildings that housed high precision equipment (such as flow forming, milling and turning machines; electron beam welders; coordinate measurement machines) formerly monitored and tagged with IAEA seals, as well as the removal of equipment and materials (such as high strength aluminium) from open storage areas.

“As indicated previously to the Council, the IAEA, through visits to other countries, has been able to identify quantities of industrial items, some radioactively contaminated, that had been transferred out of Iraq from sites monitored by the IAEA. However, none of the high quality dual use equipment or materials referred to above has been found. As the disappearance of such equipment and materials may be of proliferation significance, any State that has information about the location of such items should provide the IAEA with that information.”

This missing equipment is of relatively low-level significance; however, it is remarkable that after citing nuclear proliferation as the initial main reason for its invasion of Iraq, the US has been so cavalier about protecting nuclear-related materials and equipment. It’s ironic that after some much excitement in about Iraq’s purchase of aluminum tubes, one of the items missing is high strength aluminum. It’s certainly possible that part of the reason for this report is the UN’s pique at being diss’ed by the US. But the US should recognize that if you spit in someone’s face, they might be critical of you later. The IAEA could have told us this privately, instead of making it public; perhaps they did. The US should take care of its business in Iraq, and apparently it has not been doing so.

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