Accessibility links

IAEA Director-General Briefs US Congress - 2003-01-10

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, briefed members of the U.S. Congress Friday on the progress of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq. Mr. ElBaradei says he wants to see more cooperation from Iraq.

Mr. ElBaradei told reporters that Iraq has not been as cooperative as it could be in the inspection process. "We still need cooperation from Iraq, not only with regard to process, but also with regard to substance," he said. "would like to see more cooperation in interviewing Iraqi scientists in private. I would like to see Iraq not talking about inspectors being spies. I would like to see a more forthcoming Iraqi attitude, which would help us to achieve our goal."

Mr. ElBaradei, along with chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, offered similar comments to the U.N. Security Council Thursday. At the same time, both men said, six weeks of inspections did not uncover 'smoking gun' evidence that Iraq has resumed its secret weapons program.

Appearing alongside Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. ElBaradei also called on the United States to share more intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs with inspectors. "We are satisfied with the intelligence we are getting from the United States, but we would like to get more," said Mohamed ElBaradei.

For his part, Mr. Lugar made his own appeal to Baghdad for better compliance. "Iraq is hard-pressed, either to hide or fail to be forthcoming," he said. "We hope they will take a different course. But the inspection regime itself is a very strong mission toward peace and disarmament in that area."

Mr. ElBaradei noted inspectors are to release a formal report on January 27. He underscored the date does not represent the end of the inspections process.

On the issue of North Korea, Mr. ElBaradei described Pyongyang's decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as the 'continuation of a policy of defiance.' He said the move was counter-productive to efforts to achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

Mr. ElBaradei and Senator Lugar both agreed a diplomatic solution is necessary to end the crisis. The IAEA official said North Korea needs assurances as to what to expect in return for good behavior.