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France, Germany and the United Kingdom thank Director-General Grossi for his report on the implementation of safeguards in Iran contained in GOV/2023/26.
We fully support and commend the DG and the Secretariat for their professional, independent and impartial verification of Iran’s safeguards obligations, and commend their repeated efforts to engage Iran on clarifying information concerning the correctness and completeness of its 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.
A few hours before the last Board, the IAEA and Iran agreed the 4 March 2023 Joint Statement in which “Iran expressed its readiness to continue its cooperation and provide further information and access to address the outstanding safeguards issues” and, “on a voluntary basis, to allow the IAEA to implement further appropriate verification and monitoring activities”.
This Joint Statement was agreed in the context of Iran’s grave and continued escalation of its nuclear program, which included two particularly concerning actions: * centrifuge configuration changes made by Iran at Fordow without prior notice to the IAEA and uncovered during an unannounced inspection; * detection of particles of uranium enriched at 83.7%, which is grossly inconsistent with the declared level of enrichment.
These Iranian actions also took place in the context of over four years of a lack of substantive cooperation with the IAEA regarding possible undeclared nuclear material at a number of undeclared locations in Iran. The Board has adopted three resolutions on this matter, most recently in November, when the Board decided that it is “essential and urgent”, that Iran act to fulfil its legal obligations and clarify all outstanding safeguards issues without delay.
In the context of this escalation, and Iran’s longstanding lack of cooperation with the Agency, incremental and limited steps are neither sufficient nor satisfactory. Only the full implementation by Iran of its Joint Statement commitments, and crucially its legal obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, can re-establish trust in Iran’s claim that its nuclear program only serves peaceful purposes.
Iran’s level of cooperation remains insufficient, as reflected in the Director General’s report.
On outstanding safeguards issues, we note that the Agency at this time has no additional questions on the depleted uranium particles detected at Marivan. But we also note that the Agency’s assessment of the activities undertaken by Iran in the other location at Marivan remains as set out previously: that Iran conducted explosive experiments in preparation for the use of neutron detectors. This is a stark reminder of the reason why we need to continue to demand full transparency from Iran on all outstanding safeguards issues.
We also note with great concern that the Agency reports no progress towards resolving the remaining outstanding safeguards issues. As clearly requested by the Agency in its report, Iran needs to address outstanding issues and provide, without further delay, technically credible information on the current location(s) of nuclear material and contaminated equipment in relation to Turquzabad and Varamin.
Unless and until Iran provides technically credible explanations to the Agency’s persisting outstanding questions, as reiterated by the November Resolution, the Agency will not be able to confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement. These outstanding issues need to be resolved for the Agency to be in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful. Such assurances are critical for the international community and the international non-proliferation regime.
In addition, a new issue has arisen with regard to a discrepancy, detected more than a year ago, between the amount of natural uranium from Jaber Ibn Hayan Laboratory declared by Iran and the amount verified by the Agency. The Agency considers Iran’s latest accountancy “not to be based on scientific grounds, and therefore, not acceptable”. We call upon Iran to engage the Agency to explain the shortfall of nuclear material. It is worth recalling that this material is related to a previous safeguards site of concern – Lavisan-Shian.
Finally, 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 or stopped unilaterally.
On other safeguards issues, we take note of the Agency’s assessment regarding the 83.7% enriched uranium particles, that “the information provided [by Iran] was not inconsistent with Iran’s explanation for the origin” of such particles. We continue to stress that any such enrichment, whatever its nature or intention, is wholly unacceptable. It constituted an unprecedented and extremely grave development, for which there is no credible civilian justification. These actions show Iran has built capabilities suitable for enrichment for nuclear weapons purposes.
On verification and monitoring activities, we note the limited steps that have been taken such as the reinstallation of enrichment monitoring devices of high enriched uranium at both Fordow and Natanz. We also note the reinstallation of some surveillance cameras in some centrifuge production facilities. Yet, progress again remains short of expectations.
Steps taken to allow further verification activities constitute a start, but they remain vastly incomplete. Without the installation of surveillance equipment in all locations requested by the Agency, and without access to the data recorded since February 2021 such steps have limited value, despite efforts of the Agency to secure this oversight. These steps are fragile: the Agency clearly states that “the process needs to be sustained and uninterrupted in order that all of the commitments contained therein are fulfilled without further delay”.
We urge Iran to act without any possible delay as requested by the Agency, in order to clarify and resolve all outstanding issues. The Director General has made clear asks in his report and requested engagement from Iran, and the November Resolution makes clear the Board’s requirements of Iran. Both should be delivered by the next Board of Governors at the latest.
If Iran fails to implement by the next Board the essential and urgent actions contained in the November 2022 Resolution and the March Joint Statement in full, the Board will have to be prepared to take further action, including if necessary making a finding on whether the Agency is not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material. We reiterate that we are looking forward to Iran clarifying all outstanding issues as soon as possible and that if the IAEA Director General confirms that these issues have been duly addressed we will not deem further reports on developments necessary.
We would like to thank the IAEA for their impartial and professional work on this issue.
We encourage the Director General to continue reporting to the Board of Governors and welcome making the report contained in GOV/2023/26 public, consistent with long-standing practice.
Thank you, Chair.