Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (86)

Michael Noonan

Question:

65 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the work of the International Atomic Agency in Libya; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4317/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

On 19 December 2003, Libya announced its intention, following negotiations with the UK and US, to eliminate all "materials, equipment and programmes which lead to the production of internationally proscribed weapons".

The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, sent a team to Libya almost immediately after the announcement, and briefings from the agency indicate that IAEA inspectors have been making rapid and steady progress in their nuclear verification efforts in Libya. They report a high level of co-operation from the Libyan authorities as well as assistance from UK and US personnel.

By the end of January the agency inspectors had completed the initial phase of their work, which included conducting an inventory of sensitive nuclear components and materials, the application of IAEA seals and working with US and UK personnel who, with the agreement of the Libyan authorities, provided logistical support to remove these materials from the country. Sensitive items have been removed under IAEA supervision and remain under IAEA seal and oversight. The IAEA work is continuing and agency inspectors will be undertaking verification work on nuclear components, equipment and materials inside Libya and on items which have been removed.

I understand that the Libyan authorities have also signalled their intention to conclude an additional protocol to their safeguards agreement with the agency. Ireland and our partners in the European Union consider that the adoption and implementation of comprehensive safeguards agreements, and additional protocols to them, is a prerequisite to an effective and credible safeguards system. We look forward therefore to Libya signing, ratifying and implementing such a protocol.

Ireland fully supports the work of the IAEA in verifying the dismantling of the Libyan programme and looks forward to the report of the director general of the agency on progress in Libya at the next meeting of the board of governors in March.

Question No. 66 answered with QuestionNo. 14.
Question No. 67 answered with QuestionNo. 15.