Prepared Testimony by Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton Before the House International Relations Committee Hearing: U.S. Nonproliferation Policy After Iraq

June 4, 2003

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Iran

On Iran, we have seen for some time indications of a clandestine program to develop nuclear weapons. The United States and its allies expressed concern at the Evian G-8 Summit about Iran''s covert nuclear weapons program, stating that "we will not ignore proliferation implications of Iran''s advanced nuclear program" and that "we offer our strongest support to comprehensive IAEA examination of this country''s nuclear program." The world has put Iran on notice that it must stop pursuing nuclear weapons.

We now know that Iran is developing a uranium mine, a uranium conversion facility, a massive uranium enrichment facility designed to house tens of thousands of centrifuges, and a heavy water production plant. This costly infrastructure would support the production of both highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons. While Iran claims that its nuclear program is peaceful and transparent, we are convinced it is otherwise.

One unmistakable indicator of military intent is the secrecy and lack of transparency surrounding Iran''s nuclear activities. Iran did not disclose its uranium enrichment facility, or its heavy water production facility to the IAEA until construction was so far along that an opposition group made them public. Iran has a long history of denying the IAEA full access to its nuclear program, and continues to refuse to accept the IAEA strengthened safeguards Additional Protocol, despite calls by IAEA Director General ElBaradei and many others to do so. Iran''s failure to accept the Additional Protocol, which would give the IAEA increased access to investigate undeclared nuclear activities and facilities, exposes Iran''s claims of "transparency" as clearly false.

Another troublesome indicator of the true nature of the Iranian nuclear program is that the cover stories put forward for the development of a nuclear fuel cycle and for individual facilities are simply not credible. For example, Iran is making an enormous investment in facilities to mine, process, and enrich uranium, and says it needs to make its own reactor fuel because it cannot count on foreign supplies. But for the next decade Iran will have at most a single power reactor, and Russia has committed itself to supply all the fuel for the lifetime of that reactor. In addition, Iran does not have enough indigenous uranium resources to fuel even one reactor over its lifetime. So we are being asked to believe that Iran is building uranium enrichment capacity to make fuel for reactors that do not exist from uranium Iran does not have.

Iran would have us believe it is building a massive uranium enrichment facility without having tested centrifuge machines, and building a heavy water production plant with no evident use for the product. The more credible explanation is that Iran is building the infrastructure to produce highly enriched uranium in centrifuges and plutonium in a heavy water moderated reactor.

Finally, there is Iran''s claim that it is building massive and expensive nuclear fuel cycle facilities to meet future electricity needs, while preserving oil and gas for export. In fact, Iran''s uranium reserves are miniscule, accounting for less than one percent of its vast oil reserves and even larger gas reserves. A glance at a chart of the energy content of Iran''s oil, gas, and uranium resources shows that there is absolutely no possibility for Iran''s indigenous uranium to have any appreciable effect on Iran''s ability to export oil and gas. Iran''s gas reserves are the second largest in the world, and the industry estimates that Iran today flares enough gas to generate electricity equivalent to the output of four Bushehr reactors, as shown on the second chart.

The conclusion is inescapable that Iran is pursuing its "civil" nuclear energy program not for peaceful and economic purposes but as a front for developing the capability to produce nuclear materials for nuclear weapons.

Iran is a party to the NPT, and has a full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Following the revelation of Iran''s construction of nuclear facilities, IAEA Director General ElBaradei visited Iran this year, found sophisticated uranium enrichment centrifuges, and raised questions in his March report to the IAEA Board of Governors. IAEA inspection teams have subsequently returned to Iran. We doubt Iran would have built such a large enrichment plant and other nuclear facilities without first conducting experiments that in turn would raise questions about Iran''s sincerity in meeting its safeguards obligations to the IAEA. Iran''s safeguards agreement with the IAEA requires reporting of nuclear materials and experiments using nuclear materials. If not reported to the IAEA, testing of centrifuges with uranium, for example, or experiments involving Iran''s research reactor would conflict with Iran''s safeguards obligations. We look forward to Director General ElBaradei''s report on what his teams have found in Iran to the next meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in June.

Despite all Iran has done, it is not too late to halt and reverse Iran''s pursuit of nuclear weapons. The United States is using all diplomatic tools to this end. We have focused special attention on Russia, the supplier of the Bushehr reactor. Following sustained high-level exchanges, Russia shares our concern about Iran''s nuclear activities, joins us in supporting the IAEA''s ongoing inspections, and wants Director General ElBaradei to make a full and unbiased report to the Board of Governors on what his inspectors in Iran have found. My Russian colleague, Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov, made these points publicly on May 27.

In Vienna, we are providing support to the IAEA to facilitate a rigorous examination of Iran''s nuclear facilities by IAEA inspectors. If the IAEA finds that Iran''s nuclear activities are not in compliance with its safeguards obligations, the case would be compelling that the international community should oppose uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities in Iran and halt all nuclear cooperation with Iran.

The danger that Iran poses with its clandestine nuclear weapons program is compounded by Iran''s pursuit of an advanced and self-sufficient chemical weapons infrastructure, its active quest for biological warfare capabilities, and its long-range ballistic missile program. Despite being a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), it is widely known that Iran has stockpiled blister, blood and choking CW agents, and possesses the bombs and artillery shells to deliver them. It continues to seek chemicals, production technology, training, and expertise from Chinese entities that could further Tehran''s efforts at achieving an indigenous capability to produce nerve agents, which Iran previously has manufactured. The United States also believes that Iran probably has produced BW agents and likely maintains an offensive BW program, in violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), to which it is Party. Foreign dual-use biotechnical materials, equipment, and expertise -- primarily, but not exclusively, from Russia -- continue to feature prominently in Iran''s procurement efforts. While such materials do have legitimate uses, Iran''s biological weapons program could also benefit from them. It is likely that Iran has capabilities to produce small quantities of biological weapons agents, but has a limited ability to weaponize them. Furthermore, ballistic missile-related cooperation from entities in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and China over the years has helped Iran move toward its goal of becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles. Such assistance includes equipment, technology, and expertise. Iran, already producing Scud short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), is in the late stages of developing the Shahab medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and is pursuing longer-range missiles.

Vigorous implementation of our sanctions policy is a key part of our Iran nonproliferation effort. We have sanctioned entities in China and Moldova for assistance to the Iranian missile program, as well as entities in Iran itself.

We cannot let Iran, a leading sponsor of international terrorism, acquire the most destructive weapons and the means to deliver them to Europe, most of central Asia and the Middle East -- or further.