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France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States thank Director General Grossi for his report on the implementation of safeguards in Iran contained in GOV/2023/58.
We fully support and commend the DG and the Secretariat for their professional, independent and impartial verification of Iran’s fulfilment of its safeguards obligations. We commend their repeated efforts to engage Iran to clarify information concerning the correctness and completeness of its declarations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement.
One year ago, this Board adopted a resolution in response to Iran’s persistent lack of substantive cooperation with the Agency on outstanding safeguards issues. This was its third resolution on the subject since the IAEA raised questions five years ago regarding possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. Since then, the IAEA at varying points has raised questions about such activities at four locations. In this resolution, the Board decided that it was “essential and urgent” that Iran take action and clarify all outstanding safeguards issues in order to ensure verification of the non-diversion of nuclear material.
One year later, Iran’s continuing disregard for its obligations, including to adhere to the decisions of this Board, now appears in the clearest light. The DG’s report is stark: Iran is not only dragging its feet on cooperating with the Agency to resolve the remaining outstanding issues, but it is also willfully hampering the Agency’s ability to perform its verification mandate. Iran’s actions are not only inconsistent with its legal obligations, but also undermine the global non-proliferation architecture in disregarding the commitments and obligations at its core.
First, Iran has still not provided the Agency with technically credible explanations for the presence of uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at outstanding locations of Varamin and Turquzabad on which the Agency is currently seeking clarifications. It has not informed the Agency of the current location of related nuclear material and contaminated equipment. Iran has not engaged even at the most superficial level, despite the fact that cooperating with the Agency is a legal obligation stemming from Iran’s NPT Safeguards Agreement. This raises the question as to whether any of the nuclear material and/or contaminated equipment used at these locations remains in Iran and is not included in Iran’s declaration.
Second, the nuclear material discrepancy at the Uranium Conversion Facility remains unresolved. Previous explanations by Iran were not technically credible and therefore not acceptable by the Agency. This issue touches upon the very core of the Agency’s safeguards mandate:
it is about Iranian undeclared activities at undeclared locations involving uranium metal, some of which is of unknown origin and might still be outside of safeguards. It is also worth recalling that this issue relates to safeguards concerns the Agency was pursuing previously over the Lavisan-Shian site – which Iran also failed to substantively address.
Third, Iran has “frozen” the implementation of the March 4 Joint Statement in spite of the Director General’s extensive efforts to achieve progress. The reports are once again very clear: “the lack of progress in implementing any of the three elements of the Joint Statement, put into question the possibility of continuing with its implementation”. It is now clear that Iran has not approached the Joint Statement in good faith and has not demonstrated any serious intention to fully implement its commitments. We urge Iran to promptly cooperate with the Agency on installing surveillance and monitoring equipment where requested, providing urgent access to camera data which it is currently withholding and addressing the gaps in the recordings. Without this information the Agency lacks key insight into Iran’s capability to expand its uranium enrichment program – possibly even in ways not declared to the Agency – at a time when it is advancing.
Fourth, Iran has doubled down on its hostile attitude towards the Agency and is threatening the safeguards system through its decision to de-designate a number of experienced inspectors in September. In the DG’s words, this “extreme and unjustified” decision directly and seriously affects the Agency’s ability to effectively conduct its verification mandate in Iran. The DG makes clear this stance is “not only unprecedented but unambiguously contrary to the cooperation that is required in order to facilitate the effective implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement”. It is unacceptable for Iran to retaliate against statements from IAEA Member States by withdrawing Agency inspector designations of the same nationality. The independent technical work of the Agency cannot be subject to Iran’s political interpretation of other Member States’ views in this way. We echo the Director General’s strong condemnation of Iran’s actions and urge Iran to reverse it and to promptly re-designate these inspectors.
Finally, we stress that implementation of Modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements General Part to Iran’s Safeguards Agreement is a legal obligation for Iran that cannot be suspended or unilaterally modified. Iran has announced the locations of new nuclear facilities and the Agency has asked Iran to provide required preliminary design information. Iran must provide its response immediately. Iran’s unwillingness to work with the Agency to resolve this in accordance with its legal obligations, alongside its lack of transparency, is entirely unacceptable and deeply concerning given Iran’s history of constructing covert nuclear facilities. Is Iran attempting to claim a loophole that does not exist to enable the construction of clandestine nuclear facilities? Iran is the only state with significant nuclear activities implementing a comprehensive safeguards agreement but not modified Code 3.1.
The Director General has made clear asks in his reports and requested engagement from Iran. Unless and until Iran provides technically credible explanations in response 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 or provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful. Such assurances are critical for the international community and the international non-proliferation regime.
Our concerns with this behaviour are widely shared, as was reflected at the September Board by the statement made by Denmark on behalf of a group of 63 Member States. We have already indicated that if Iran fails to implement the essential and urgent actions contained in the November 2022 Resolution, the Board will have to be prepared to take further action in support of the Secretariat to hold Iran accountable in the near future, including the possibility of additional resolutions. Iran cannot continue its lack of cooperation Board after Board without bearing consequences. The further Iran goes down its conscious path of non-cooperation, the closer this Board will get to reaching the conclusion that the Agency is not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material.
We reiterate that, should Iran enable the IAEA Director General to conclude that these issues have been clarified and resolved and are no longer outstanding, we will not deem further reports and Board discussion necessary.
We would like to thank the IAEA for their impartial and professional work on this issue. We request the Director General to continue reporting to the Board of Governors and welcome making the report contained in GOV/2023/58 public, in line with longstanding practice.