IAEA to help Iraq develop peaceful nuclear programme, agency head says

By Thomson Reuters Mar 18, 2024 | 6:56 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi met Iraq’s prime minister in Baghdad on Monday as part of a visit to help the country develop a peaceful nuclear programme.

“We have discussed several projects in Iraq, including building a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes,” Iraqi Education Minister Naim al-Aboudi told reporters following a meeting between Grossi and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.

Grossi said that a team of Iraqi experts would visit the agency’s headquarters in Vienna in a few days to hold meetings to “set out a road map for the Iraqi peaceful nuclear programme” amid growing interest in nuclear energy in the region, including among Arab Gulf countries.

“We see that in the (United Arab) Emirates, we see that in Egypt, we will see that in Saudi Arabia and of course we should see it here in Iraq,” Grossi told reporters.

Iraq in the past had three nuclear reactors in Tuwaitha, its main nuclear research site, south of Baghdad. One was destroyed by an Israeli air raid in 1981 and the two others by U.S. warplanes in the 1991 Gulf war that followed Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

“Definitely, turning the page on this complex past is of the essence and we’re doing just that,” Grossi said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Alex Richardson)