The United States, concerned over what it regards as
failed inspections of nuclear facilities in Iran and Iraq, wants to reform
the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Officials and experts said IAEA inspections in both Iran and Iraq have
been inadequate and limited. They said the agency has failed to achieve
access to suspicious facilities in North Korea as well as in the two Middle
"We count on IAEA to be forthright and forceful in identifying problems
and safeguards violations, and we expect it to insist on immediate action by
Iran to end its clandestine nuclear weapons programs," Assistant Secretary
of State for Nonproliferation John Wolf said.
The officials and experts cited an IAEA report that failed to find
evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the March report to
the United Nations Security Council, submitted by IAEA director-general
Mohammed El Baredei, ignored major elements of Iraq's nuclear activities as
well as Baghdad's previous efforts to conceal weapons of mass destruction
from international inspectors.
"The IAEA has misled the public into believing that Iraq no longer
constitutes a nuclear threat," Paul Leventhal, president emeritus of the
Washington-based Nuclear Control Institute, said. "Given the IAEA's past
failures to detect a nuclear weapons program in Iraq, El Baradei would serve
both the interests of his agency and of the world by demonstrating more
humility and candor in his reporting on Iraq."
U.S. experts and officials said the IAEA's failure in Iraq could extend
to Iran. They said the agency has failed to use intelligence information on
Iran's nuclear program to press for greater access to such facilities as
Natanz, where Iran is constructing gas centrifuges for the production of
Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Affairs John Bolton said the IAEA has not been tough with countries that
sign nonproliferation treaties and then fail to comply. He cited the
examples of Iran, Iraq and North Korea and suggested that the agency and its
UN sponsor do not maintain uniform standards of compliance.
"There's a heavy burden on the United Nations to show that it can be
effective in this area and to show that statements, documents, declarations,
resolutions and treaties that come out of the UN system in fact are observed
by everybody who signs up to them, because if they’re not, then obviously
the entire UN system will be less effective," Bolton said.
The Bush administration plans to focus on nonproliferation in the
aftermath of the war in Iraq. Officials said this would include recruitment
of international cooperation to stop the flow of illicit nuclear material as
well as a review of the IAEA.
"Once we have a better atmosphere after Iraq, one of the things we're
going to have to look at is how the world gets itself better organized to
deal with issues concerning weapons of mass destruction," U.S. National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said.