Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement with Iran: E3 Statement to the IAEA, March 2023

UK Ambassador to the IAEA, Corinne Kitsell, gave a statement on behalf of the UK, France and Germany to the IAEA about Iran's implementation of its obligations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement
March 8, 2023

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


France, Germany, and the United Kingdom thank Director General Grossi for his report on the implementation of safeguards in Iran contained in GOV/2023/9.

We fully support and commend the DG and the Secretariat for their professional, independent and impartial verification of Iran’s safeguards obligations. We also fully support and commend their repeated efforts to engage Iran on information necessary to assess the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement. The IAEA should continue to evaluate all safeguards-relevant information available, in line with its mandate and standard practice.

We note the Director General’s latest visit to Tehran for senior level discussions. We note that following discussions, and due to the Director General’s relentless efforts to address all outstanding issues with Iran, a Joint Statement was agreed between the IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran on 4 March, where Iran agreed to provide further information and access to address these issues.


It has been over four years since the Agency sought clarifications from Iran regarding possible undeclared nuclear material at a number of undeclared locations in Iran, including the detection of anthropogenic and isotopically altered nuclear particles at three of these locations. Over this period, there have been numerous interactions between the Agency and Iran, including technical and high level visits to Tehran and several Joint Statements where Iran has committed to cooperating with the IAEA to resolve the outstanding safeguards issues. However, Iran is still to live up to its commitments and the Agency has yet to receive technically credible explanations from Iran, despite multiple requests and ample opportunities to do so.

The Board of Governors has repeatedly underscored its concerns over Iran’s ongoing lack of substantive co-operation with the IAEA and the message to Iran has been clear and unambiguous: it must fully cooperate with the Agency to clarify and resolve all outstanding issues and to fulfil its legal obligations. The Board has adopted three resolutions on this matter, contained in GOV/2020/34, GOV/2022/34, and GOV/2022/70. The most recent of these in November last year decided that it is essential and urgent in order to ensure verification of the non-diversion of nuclear material that Iran act to fulfil its legal obligations and, with a view to clarifying all outstanding safeguards issues, take certain actions without delay.

It is deeply concerning, therefore, that since November, Iran has taken none of the actions requested by the Agency, nor those demanded by the Board, and therefore no progress has been made towards resolving any of the outstanding safeguards issues.

We emphasise again the message from the Agency that unless and until Iran provides technically credible explanations to the Agency’s outstanding questions, the Agency will not be able to confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement.


The E3 are seriously concerned that new safeguards issues related to Iran’s implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement have arisen, as captured in the Director General’s latest report.

We note with grave concern the centrifuge configuration changes made by Iran at Fordow without prior notice to the IAEA. It is all the more concerning that the DG’s report indicates that Iran implemented this change immediately following the Agency’s previous inspection at the FFEP earlier the same day. As the IAEA has confirmed in its report of 1 February contained in GOV/INF/2023/1, this is inconsistent with Iran’s obligations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement and undermines the Agency’s ability to implement effective safeguards measures at Iran’s nuclear facilities. We would like to recall that Iran providing a revised DIQ and facilitating an increase in the frequency and intensity of Agency verification activities at FFEP cannot be portrayed as progress in Iranian co-operation. Iran provided a revised DIQ only after it was caught acting in a manner inconsistent with its safeguards agreement by not declaring in advance modifications on certain cascades in Fordow. These Agency verification activities stem from Iran’s obligations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement.

We are even more alarmed by recent sampling at Fordow - which itself was a previously undeclared facility - demonstrating the presence of particles of uranium highly enriched to 83.7%. This is an unprecedented and extremely grave escalation , grossly inconsistent with the level of enrichment declared by Iran at 60%. We remain to be convinced by Iran’s claim that this was due to ‘unintended fluctuations’ and ask the Secretariat for further reporting on explanations for these alarming findings. We call on Iran to comply with all its legally-binding safeguards obligations, to fully cooperate with the Agency’s application of effective safeguards at Fordow and other nuclear facilities, and to provide substantiated, technically credible explanations for the presence of 83.7% particles.

Iran must also clarify, without delay, the new issue, reported by the Agency in its report to this Board, regarding a discrepancy - detected almost a year ago - between the amount of natural uranium from JHL declared by Iran and the amount verified by the Agency. Such discrepancies only add to calls for Iran to improve its co-operation with the Agency in the implementation of safeguards.


We fully support the Director General in his efforts to engage Iran in order to clarify all outstanding safeguards issues. We note from the 4 March Joint Statement Iran’s high-level assurances that it is willing to cooperate with the Agency to resolve these issues and to engage in follow-up discussions. Let us recall that it has been a year since Iran made a similar commitment, also in the form of a Joint Statement, which it subsequently failed to uphold. The Board has heard enough promises. After four years, what it needs to see is action. Iran must take the essential and urgent actions set out in GOV/2022/70 and immediately provide the necessary technically credible information and access to locations and materials in order to effectively clarify and resolve outstanding issues without delay.

Further, it is regrettable - yet consistent with its previous behaviour - that Iran delayed inviting the Director General to visit Tehran until the very eve of the Board, despite having had months to schedule such a visit.

Iran’s pattern of behaviour and increasing disregard for its NPT safeguards obligations is deeply concerning, and bringing us closer to the point where the Agency will not be able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material.


We have always been clear that this is a matter of Iran’s legally binding obligation to ensure the verification of the non-diversion of nuclear material under its NPT Safeguards Agreement. There is no political solution to this issue: only Iran can provide the necessary technically credible information to the Agency’s satisfaction. Following the DG’s visit to Tehran, Iran must now seize this final opportunity to provide full and prompt co-operation to the Agency to clarify and resolve all outstanding issues without any possible delay. If Iran fails to implement by the next Board the essential and urgent actions in the November 2022 Resolution, the Board will have to be prepared to take further action, including making a finding, if necessary, on whether the Agency is not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material.


Lastly, we once again recall that implementation of Modified Code 3.1 is a legal obligation for Iran under the Subsidiary Arrangement to its NPT Safeguards Agreement which cannot be modified, interpreted or stopped unilaterally. We would like to thank the IAEA for it impartial and professional work on this issue. We encourage the Director General to continue reporting to the Board of Governors, and provide earlier updates on these issues as necessary, and welcome making the report contained in GOV/2023/9 public, consistent with long-standing practice.

Thank you, Chair