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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

IAEA Director Mohmamed Elbaradei Speaks to Press

Aired January 29, 2003 - 11:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Here's Mohamed Elbaradei, the head of the IAEA, at the United Nations. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: ... need a few months before we can come to a conclusion.

On the nuclear file, that is different from the chemical and biological file, because we started from a different baseline. In 1998, we neutralized Iraqi nuclear weapon program. We also have very sophisticated techniques to detect any radioactivity in Iraq, so we are able to make progress.

However, unless chemical and biological side (ph) -- Hans Blix side (ph) -- is also making equal progress, Iraq will not -- the Iraqi issue will not move forward. So we need to make sure there are parallel progress on both sides (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Could you shed some light on the special (OFF-MIKE) tubes, because (OFF-MIKE) mentioned them again as proof for an illegal nuclear weapons program going on right now? You said yesterday, if you got you correct, that with, I think, 95 percent certainty, you think it's meant for conventional weapons. So what's the situation?

ELBARADEI: I didn't give any numbers. I said...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... 95 percent...

(CROSSTALK)

ELBARADEI: No, I did not give number. I said we are making progress on that issue. Our primary indication that they are being used or are intended to be used for conventional rockets. But we are still investigating that issue because, with modifications, it could, in fact, be used for enriching uranium.

But the investigation is still going on, and we are, of course, concerned to come to closure on that issue.

QUESTION: But the United States don't want to wait so long anymore. ELBARADEI: Well, we are -- we are, of course, listening to the Security Council. The Security Council will, obviously, tell us what does it want to do, whether they want us to continue.

I still believe that we have not exhausted the possibility for a peaceful resolution of the issue. And I would continue to plead for more time.

(CROSSTALK)

ELBARADEI: We are trying to give the Security Council a full, comprehensive, objective picture to make their own political assessment.

As I mentioned in the case of South Africa, it took us two years to complete the job. But also, do not forget that we were in Iraq for six years, and we managed also to dismantle the Iraq program at that time.

Our focus right now is the last 4 years between 1998 and 2001. Again, let me emphasize, this is a nuclear issue. There is a big difference between nuclear and chemical and biological, in terms of the file, in terms of the techniques, in terms of the progress.

And we need -- and Iraq should understand that we need to make quick progress on all fronts. Iraq needs to show proactive support in the next few weeks, because we all know that time is running out and the international community is getting impatient with a file which continues -- which had continued to be open for 11 years.

Thank you very much.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: ... need a few months before we can come to a conclusion.

On the nuclear file, that is different from the chemical and biological file, because we started from a different baseline. In 1998, we neutralized Iraqi nuclear weapon program. We also have very sophisticated techniques to detect any radioactivity in Iraq, so we are able to make progress.

However, unless chemical and biological side (ph) -- Hans Blix side (ph) -- is also making equal progress, Iraq will not -- the Iraqi issue will not move forward. So we need to make sure there are parallel progress on both sides (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Could you shed some light on the special (OFF-MIKE) tubes, because (OFF-MIKE) mentioned them again as proof for an illegal nuclear weapons program going on right now? You said yesterday, if you got you correct, that with, I think, 95 percent certainty, you think it's meant for conventional weapons. So what's the situation?

ELBARADEI: I didn't give any numbers. I said...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... 95 percent...

(CROSSTALK)

ELBARADEI: No, I did not give number. I said we are making progress on that issue. Our primary indication that they are being used or are intended to be used for conventional rockets. But we are still investigating that issue because, with modifications, it could, in fact, be used for enriching uranium.

But the investigation is still going on, and we are, of course, concerned to come to closure on that issue.

QUESTION: But the United States don't want to wait so long anymore.

ELBARADEI: Well, we are -- we are, of course, listening to the Security Council. The Security Council will, obviously, tell us what does it want to do, whether they want us to continue.

I still believe that we have not exhausted the possibility for a peaceful resolution of the issue. And I would continue to plead for more time.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: [IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

ELBARADEI: We are trying to give the Security Council a full, comprehensive, objective picture to make their own political assessment.

ELBARADEI: As I mentioned in the case of South Africa, it took us two years to complete the job. But also, do not forget that we were in Iraq for six years, and we managed also to dismantle the Iraq program at that time.

Our focus right now is the last 4 years between 1998 and 2001. Again, let me emphasize, this is a nuclear issue. There is a big difference between nuclear and chemical and biological, in terms of the file, in terms of the techniques, in terms of the progress.

And we need -- and Iraq should understand that we need to make quick progress on all fronts. Iraq needs to show proactive support in the next few weeks, because we all know that time is running out and the international community is getting impatient with a file which continues -- which had continued to be open for 11 years.

Thank you very much.

KAGAN: Comments there from Mohamed Elbaraedi. He is the director-general of the IAEA. That is the agency inside Iraq, looking for any evidence of nuclear weapons or efforts to build nuclear weapons. Mr. Elbaradei saying that he still hopes that there can be and believes there can be a peaceful resolution without war with Iraq, but once again, he is pleading for more time.

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