VIENNA, Austria – Most of Iraq's nuclear weapons declaration to the United Nations is old material, and only 300 pages in Arabic are believed to contain new information, the chief of the U.N. atomic energy said Friday.
Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency in charge of hunting for nuclear arms in Iraq, said 2,100 of the dossier's 2,400 pages "is material we already had before."
"The new part is 300 pages in Arabic that covers activities in 1991 until 2002. Part of it we also know; however, there is additional information we are going through right now," ElBaradei told reporters at IAEA headquarters.
"We expect that by next Tuesday, we will provide the Security Council with a sanitized copy of that report. ... We are sanitizing that report and we are doing detailed analysis," he said.
"Iraq has said they have not taken part in any nuclear weapons activities. Of course we must verify that statement. The process will take time but you need to bear with us because if successful, this is the best way of ensuring that Iraq disarms."
Iraq has said it has no weapons of mass destruction. Inspectors with the IAEA and the New York-based U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Mission have been fanning out across the country in search of nuclear, biological or chemical agents and the means to produce them.
"Iraq claims they have no been involved in any proscribed activities in the last four years. We cannot take that statement at face value," ElBaradei said, adding that further inspections were necessary to confirm or refute Baghdad's insistence that it poses no threat.
Despite his agency's push for preliminary findings and a quick analysis of Iraq's declaration, "it will take us something like a year before we can come to any credible conclusion," he cautioned.
The U.N. inspections have resumed under a new U.N. Security Council resolution requiring Iraq to report on nuclear, biological, chemical and missile research and production. It filed that 12,000-page U.N. declaration last weekend; the IAEA is analyzing the 2,400-page nuclear portion.
The resolution also mandates that Iraq surrender any weapons of mass destruction, which it denies having. The U.S. government says it is sure Baghdad retains such weapons, and threatens war if Iraq fails, in Washington's view, to comply with U.N. disarmament demands.
In a round of inspections in the 1990s, after Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, the United Nations destroyed tons of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
On neighboring Iran, which reportedly is considering constructing a second major nuclear power plant, ElBaradei said Thursday's revelations did not take his agency off-guard.
"This is not a surprise to us. We have been talking to the Iranians authorities for the past six months about these facilities," he said. "They have indicated they will invite the agency — me and a team of technical experts — to visit these facilities."
"I was supposed to go there this week; however, they have requested a rescheduling until February. I hope we will be able to visit these facilities. These facilities as far as we know are not operational," ElBaradei said.
ElBaradei said he hopes to see for himself "that all nuclear facilities in Iran are under safeguards."
The IAEA chief urged North Korea not to move ahead with its nuclear program as the reclusive nation has threatened to do.
"We need to continue to look for agreed solutions, a diplomatic solution to the problem," ElBaradei said. "If North Korea were to cooperate with the agency ... all the concerned parties are all ready to engage into a dialogue and try to reach a diplomatic solution to the problem."
"We are waiting for their response," he said.