Read the transcript of a webchat with an IAEA spokesman (24/09/02)
The 'Iraq Action Team' are responsible for carrying out checks on nuclear material. Their headquarters are in Vienna, Austria. They are an independent agency who work alongside the UNMOVIC team who are responsible for checking on biological, chemical and ballistic missile capabilities. They both report to the United Nations.
The IAEA Iraq team headed by Jacques Baute, will pick-up where they left off in 1998. They will begin on-site inspections as well as leaving tamper-proof remote survelliance equipment. Their main role is to check that no clandestine activities are taking place, and to carry out audits of nuclear material, to determine that all nuclear material is accounted for and is used in the correct manner.
NUCLEAR MATERIAL IN IRAQ
Iraq is not permitted to use nuclear fuel, therefore it's nuclear programme was disbanded by the IAEA during the period 1991- 98. At that time President Hussein had 6,000 scientists and officers on the payroll and the programme cost around $10 billion. IAEA inspections were carried out until 1998 when the Inspectors pulled out due to the inability to carry out unfettered inspections.
To develop a comprehensive set of nuclear weapons, enriched plutonium and uranium are needed. These materials were confiscated and removed by the inspectors during the period of inspections. However many other metal isotopes which have radioactive properties can be used for industrial and medical applications (such as hospital x-rays) are still being used in Iraq. It is this less penetrative material that is often incorporated into what are termed - 'dirty bombs'. Most countries have the capability of making 'dirty bombs', but a full nuclear programme requires a great deal of money, laboratory facilities and personnel.
BACKGROUND TO THE TEAM
Established on 15 April 1991, the carries out nuclear inspections in Iraq pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolutions and maintains an Ongoing Monitoring and Verification (OMV) System. It reports directly to the Director General of the IAEA, and it conducts its work with the assistance and cooperation of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission.
THE IAEA MANDATE IN IRAQ
Under UNSC Resolution 687 (1991), the Action Team has two mandates:
1. To uncover and dismantle Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme.
2. To develop and implement an Ongoing Monitoring and Verification (OMV) System.