Nuke Inspector Gives Saddam a 'B' for Cooperation
VIENNA, Austria – The head of the U.N. nuclear agency will tell the Security Council next week that his inspectors need more time in Iraq, but that Saddam Hussein gets a "B" for his cooperation, an agency spokesman said Friday.
International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei, due to brief the council in New York on Monday along with chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix, will give Iraq "quite satisfactory" grades despite the need for improvement, spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said.
"Their report card will be a 'B,"' he told The Associated Press.
Gwozdecky said ElBaradei will tell the Security Council that Saddam's government has provided good access to inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction.
"Access and cooperation are good," he said. "We've been getting where and when we want to get, and we've been generally successful in getting what we need."
But ElBaradei also will say that the Iraqis "need to help themselves by coming forward" with evidence rather than waiting for the inspectors to sniff it out.
He said the IAEA chief also would make a case for additional pressure on Baghdad to encourage Iraqi scientists to consent to private interviews with the U.N. inspectors. So far, the scientists have refused.
Monday's report by ElBaradei, whose agency is in charge of the hunt for nuclear weaponry, and Blix, who is leading the search for chemical and biological agents, could play a pivotal role in supporting or eroding Washington's rationale for possible military action.
ElBaradei's main message to the council will be that the inspectors need more time, Gwozdecky said.
"He'll say we need several more months to come to conclusions," Gwozdecky said. "He'll say our team is not yet at capacity, and that some tools are not yet on the ground," such as high-tech equipment capable of detecting airborne gamma radiation.
"But the inspections have worked well. We've learned a tremendous amount since we've been there," he added.
Earlier Friday, the IAEA said analyses of samples taken by nuclear inspectors in Iraq have so far not revealed any evidence of prohibited nuclear activity.
The results will be included in the agency's report to the Security Council, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.
"The results so far ... have revealed no indication of prohibited nuclear activities at the locations where the samples were taken," she said. "This is not the end. The inspectors take these samples continuously."
David Donohue, head of the agency's laboratory in Seibersdorf, about 40 miles east of Vienna, said 11 samples delivered before Christmas had been analyzed. Those samples were considered "high-priority," he said, adding that eight samples delivered since were not considered as crucial.
"We will just do those in the next weeks or so," he said. "We expect that there will be a steady flow of samples for the next months."
The high-priority samples were cotton swabs that had been swiped at suspect sites. Using sophisticated technology, laboratory workers analyze the cloths to determine if there has been any nuclear activity at the swipe site, Fleming said.
The samples also were sent to a few other laboratories to ensure accuracy, she said. The other labs also found no evidence of illegal nuclear activity.
After a four-year break, U.N. experts returned to Iraq in November to search for evidence of weapons of mass destruction under a Security Council resolution that created a tough new inspections regime.