Washington (Jun. 18)
Sen. Alan Cranston (D. Calif.) revealed today that he has received internal documents from American sources at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that estimate that the Iraqi nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel June 7 could have produced enough plutonium each year to build up to three nuclear bombs.
“Furthermore, these IAEA documents indicate that there is a significant possibility, indeed probability, that this plutonium production could not have been detected by IAEA inspectors,” Cranston told the opening day of hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Israeli raid.
FORMER IAEA INSPECTOR TO TESTIFY
The Senator, a member of the committee, revealed that Roger Richter, a 33-year-old American who has been working as an IAEA inspector in the Middle East and South Asia sections, will testify before the committee tomorrow on the unreliability of the IAEA inspection system. Richter, who recently accepted a five-year extension of his contract, resigned from the IAEA Tuesday so he could testify before the committee, Cranston’s office said.
Richter, who reportedly was closeted today in a hotel room working on his testimony, was said by Cranston’s office to be a strong supporter of the peaceful use of nuclear energy for making electricity.
Sen. Cranston, however, read portions of an analysis Richter provided the U.S. Mission to the IAEA in 1980. “The available information points to an aggressive, coordinate program by Iraq to develop a nuclear weapons capability during the next five years,” Cranston said.
CALLS TREATY A COVER-UP
“As a nuclear safeguards inspector at the IAEA, my concern and complaint is that Iraq will be able to conduct this program under the auspices of the Non-proliferation Treaty and while violating the provision of NPT,” Richter wrote.
“The IAEA safeguards are totally incapable of detecting the production of plutonium in large-size material test reactors under the presently constituted safeguards arrangements. Perhaps the most disturbing implication of the Iraqi nuclear program is that the NPT agreement has had the effect of assisting Iraq in acquiring the nuclear technology and nuclear material for its program by absolving the cooperating nations of their moral responsibility by shifting it to the IAEA.
“These cooperating nations have thwarted concerted international criticism of their actions by pointing to Iraq’s signing of NPT while turning away from the numerous, obvious and compelling evidence which leads to the conclusion that Iraq is embarked on a nuclear weapons program,” Richter charged.
Cranston, the Senate Assistant Minority Leader, made available to the reporters the IAEA documents which he said were not classified.
He said the documents point out that the IAEA “safeguards simply are not comprehensive to do the job.” Cranston added that “The glaring weakness of the inspection system could have contributed to Israel’s decision that a preemptive strike was necessary.” He called for strengthening the IAEA and its safeguards.
Walter Stoessel, Jr., Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, conceded that the IAEA safeguards are not “foolproof” and the United States would like them strengthened. But, he added, the U.S. attaches great importance to the system as it now exists. Sen. John Glenn, (D. Ohio) said that “Israel took the law in its own hands” in what he said was probably the first “vote of no-confidence” in the international inspections system. He said that the Israeli raid may finally have awakened public opinion to the necessity for nuclear non-proliferation.
Glenn said he sent a letter to President Reagan, asking him to call a meeting of nuclear suppliers to begin putting real safeguards into effect.