bougs statement update
U.N. Finds No Proof of Nuclear Program
IAEA Unable to Verify U.S. Claims
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said today that two months of inspections in Iraq and interviews with Iraqi officials have yielded no evidence to support Bush administration claims that Iraq is secretly trying to revive its nuclear weapons program.
...ElBaradei also cast doubts on U.S. claims that Iraq has sought to import uranium and high-strength aluminum tubes destined for a nuclear weapons program.
...ElBaradei's remarks, combined with a relatively upbeat assessment of Iraq's cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors, delivered to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, have complicated Bush administration efforts to make a case for military action against Iraq. The remarks also increased pressure on the United States to provide inspection teams with more intelligence regarding Iraq's suspected nuclear weapons program.
The administration's concerns about Iraq's alleged intent to develop nuclear weapons formed the basis of the case President Bush made to the United Nations in September for disarming Iraq. Bush said in an Oct. 7 speech that satellite photographs revealed that "Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past." White House officials produced satellite images showing recent construction at a former uranium enrichment plant at Furat, one of several sites searched by U.N. inspectors.
"At the majority of these sites, the equipment and laboratories have deteriorated to such a degree that the resumption of nuclear activities would require substantial renovation," ElBaradei wrote in his report to the council.
ElBaradei said today that the findings did not prove that Iraq has abandoned its nuclear ambitions. He also faulted Baghdad for failing to provide more "proactive cooperation" that could shed light on Iraq's past weapons programs.
ElBaradei said that continued inspections offered the best chance of deterring Iraq from rebuilding its weapons programs. "We are not getting optimal cooperation," he said. "But still we are inching forward, and we still believe that barring something exceptional, we should be able in a few months to come to a conclusion on Iraq's nuclear weapons program."
Make no mistake about it, when it comes to weapons of mass distruction, nukes are the big enchilada. And Bush's relentless drumbeat has centered around the specter of a nuclear-armed Iraq. But while Iraq may still have other weapons of mass destruction--that is, chemical and biological agents--and such are indeed a concern, they're nowhere near the threat that nukes are. If Bush can't provide convincing evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program, his case for invasion as opposed to continued inspections, containment and deterrence (which are not "doing nothing")--becomes even weaker than before.
(via Interesting Times)