France, Germany and the United Kingdom would like to thank Director General Grossi for his latest report contained in GOV/2022/24, and Deputy Director General Aparo for his Technical Briefing. We commend the Agency for its reporting of Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, despite the limitations placed on its verification and monitoring activities in Iran.
We are deeply concerned about the continued nuclear advances that the Director General documents in his report. As a result of Iran’s nuclear activities in violation of the JCPoA for more than three years, its nuclear programme is now more advanced than at any point in the past. This is threatening international security and risks undermining the global nonproliferation regime.
The alarming accumulation of enriched material, in particular high enriched uranium enriched up to 60% and uranium enriched up to 20%, is a cause for great concern. It is further reducing the time Iran would take to break out towards a first nuclear weapon and it is fueling distrust as to Iran’s intentions. Part of this stockpile has been transformed into enriched targets and irradiated, further complicating a return to the JCPoA. None of these activities have credible civilian justification in Iran.
Iran’s nuclear advances are not only dangerous and illegal, they risk unravelling the deal that we have so carefully crafted together to restore the JCPoA. The continuation of Research and Development and extensive use of advanced centrifuges are permanently improving Iran’s enrichment capabilities. Iran is now enriching with over 2000 powerful advanced centrifuges, which can enrich many times faster than the model permitted under the JCPOA. The more Iran is advancing and accumulating knowledge with irreversible consequences, the more difficult it is to come back to the JCPoA.
This is also true of R&D activities regarding the production of uranium metal, which is a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon. It is essential that Iran does not resume these activities or commence any further work, in particular related to the conversion of UF6 to UF4, all of which have no civilian credible justification in Iran. Advances in this area would very quickly upset the balance of the deal we have finalized in Vienna.
The IAEA has been without crucial access to data on centrifuge and component manufacturing for a year and half now, since Iran stopped implementing JCPOA-related monitoring measures and suspended the application of the Additional Protocol. This means that neither the Agency, nor the international community, know how many centrifuges Iran has in its inventory, how many were built, and where they may be located, precisely at the point it is expanding its programme and its component manufacturing and centrifuge assembling capabilities. The Agency is very clear that its verification and monitoring activities in relation to the JCPoA have been seriously affected as a result of Iran’s decision to cease implementation of its commitments. This raises the question of whether the Agency will be able to restore the continuity of knowledge in the future given the time that has now elapsed since Iran started to take these steps.
Regarding verification, we recall that, again during this reporting period, Iran has also not implemented Modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements to Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. The IAEA is clear that the application of Modified Code 3.1 is a legal requirement of Iran’s safeguards agreement and Iran cannot modify or withdraw from it unilaterally. We strongly urge Iran to return to its legal obligation and to implementing the Code.
The E3/EU+3 have been engaged in intensive negotiations with Iran since April 2021 aimed at restoring the JCPoA. The E3 have spared no effort and when we left Vienna three months ago, we had a viable deal on the table which would return Iran into compliance with its JCPoA commitments and the US to the deal. We regret that Iran has not yet seized the diplomatic opportunity to conclude the deal.
We have always been clear that our priority has been to restore the JCPoA. Similarly, we have made it clear that the deal could not remain on the table indefinitely, precisely because Iran continues to advance its nuclear capabilities, undermining the non-proliferation benefits of the deal and consequently the very possibility of reaching a deal. We strongly urge Iran to stop escalating its nuclear programme and to urgently conclude deal that is on the table. This will also allow the Agency to resume full verification and monitoring and start building back its continuity of knowledge over the programme, to provide assurances to the international community over its exclusively peaceful nature.
We commend the IAEA for its objective and thorough reporting, and its rigorous and impartial implementation of the mandate conferred on it by the United Nations Security Council. We encourage the Director General to keep the Board informed regarding progress on monitoring and verification in Iran in all its aspects. We would welcome the Agency’s last quarterly report on monitoring and verification in Iran be made public.