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IAEA Scientists Analyze 11 Chemical Samples from Iraq - 2003-01-24

Scientists at an International Atomic Energy Agency laboratory near Vienna have analyzed 11 chemical samples taken from Iraq, for the report that is to be submitted to the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

The findings of the IAEA's laboratory at Seibersdorf, 35 kilometers south of Vienna, are part of the 15-page document the agency's director, Mohamed ElBaradei, will submit in New York on Monday.

Eight new samples gathered by inspectors at Iraqi factories, and presidential compounds and bunkers, are still being analyzed and are not included in the report.

The official in charge of chemical analysis, Stephan Vogt, says the team worked through the Christmas holidays trying to finish its work, but the time was too short. "We had to report our data on the previous set of samples by January 17 so that [the] Safeguards [department] and the IAEA could finish their report in time for the January 27 deadline," he said.

Mr. Vogt says it could be weeks before scientists can say whether the most recent samples from the inspectors contain nuclear material or "just sand and dirt." The lab's analysis, which goes to the level of a millionth of a millionth of a gram, is checked by affiliated research facilities in other countries.

The IAEA says the hunt for banned nuclear material in Iraq is a long process, and Monday's Security Council meeting in New York will only hear a progress report.