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International Atomic Energy Agency

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her (a) US and (b) European counterparts on the reinstating of International Atomic Energy Agency verification and monitoring activities in Iraq; and if she will make a statement. (82860)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had discussions with her US or European counterparts on this issue.

There are two distinct International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) activities in Iraq. The IAEA’s first mandate is to continue to implement safeguards in Iraq under an agreement pursuant to the global Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The IAEA’s second mandate in Iraq derives from authority of the UN Security Council under the auspices of adopted Resolution 687 in 1991. This included the establishing of an international inspection regime for disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction; in particular to uncover, map, monitor and neutralise Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons programme. The IAEA, through its Iraq Nuclear Verification Office (INVO), remains responsible for this aspect of the nuclear file in Iraq.

On 17 March 2003, the IAEA and all other UN organisations suspended field activities in Iraq ahead of the announced military operations. During this interruption of inspections, INVO has focused its activities on consolidating and further analysing the information collected, with the objective of identifying lessons learned for the future and determining to what extent the Agency’s plan for resuming verification activities needs to be adapted in light of those lessons and the changing situation in Iraq. Periodic reports are filed with the UN Security Council. The IAEA has stated that it remains prepared to resume its field and related activities in Iraq, pending guidance from the UN Security Council.