The International Atomic Energy Agency stepped back into the controversy over missing explosives in Iraq Thursday, insisting that almost 330 tonnes had indeed vanished from a depot in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
It contradicted a claim on US television that the amount was much less.
The ABC news network reported Wednesday that the amount of heavy explosives allegedly missing from the Al-Qaqaa weapons depot south of Baghdad might be be considerably less than the amount reported by Iraqi authorities, possibly as little as three tonnes.
In fact a total of 328 and half tonnes of powerful high explosive, that could be used by terrorists to produce massive blasts, had vanished from the area since the US victory in Iraq in April 2003, the agency said.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming also said Thursday that the nuclear watchdog had asked the United States to keep watch over the depot following the looting of another former nuclear site near Baghdad in April 2003.
“After the IAEA became aware of reports of looting at the main nuclear site of Tuwaitha, its chief Iraq inspectors alerted American officials that we had a concern about the security of the high explosives stored at Al Qaaqa.
“It is also important to note this was the main explosive storage facility in Iraq and it was well known through IAEA reports to the Security Council,” Fleming said.