Statement by Ambassador Jackie Wolcott Sanders to the IAEA Board of Directors

June 16, 2005

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Iran

Madame Chair,

I would like to thank the Director General and the IAEA Safeguards Department for the IAEA's continuing efforts to monitor and verify Iran's suspension commitments, and to investigate Iran's previously undeclared nuclear activities. I would also like to thank Deputy Director General Goldschmidt for his detailed briefing on these issues. In light of his briefing, and the fact that this will be his final appearance before us in his current capacity, I again would like to offer the United States government's appreciation and gratitude for the excellent work Dr. Goldschmidt has provided to the Agency, and to the international community, on this and other issues.

It is clear from the scope and detail of the unresolved concerns referred to by Dr. Goldschmidt that the "confidence deficit" created by Iran's lack of full cooperation has not been restored. This confidence deficit stands in stark contrast to the growing international consensus that, in light of two decades of Iranian safeguards breaches relating to the most sensitive aspects of the fuel cycle, two decades of systematic effort by Iran to conceal those violations, and continuing denial by Iran of full information and cooperation to the IAEA, the only acceptable outcome is for Iran to cease and dismantle all nuclear fuel cycle activities. That is why my government, as with many others represented around this table, continues to offer its full support to the ongoing diplomatic efforts of France, Germany and the United Kingdom [EU3], supported by the High Representative of the European Union.

Supporting the EU3

Madame Chair, we stand united with the EU3 and other Members of this Board in our resolve that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapons capability. We welcome Dr. [Mohamed] ElBaradei's statement that the suspension called for in the November 2004 Paris Agreement of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities is holding, despite Iran's provocative threats last month that it intended to break its suspension commitments and resume sensitive nuclear work. It is greatly troubling, however, that Iran would claim that the Paris Agreement does not cover uranium conversion, given the explicit reference in the Paris Agreement to "all tests or production at any uranium conversion installation." Indeed, Iran's conversion effort is inseparable from enrichment, in that the only purpose for converting yellowcake to uranium hexafluoride is to produce feed material for enrichment. We are also troubled by the undiminished assertions from Iranian leaders that Iran intends to continue its enrichment program.

Objective Guarantees

Let me be clear about my government's view of what any "final agreement," as envisioned by the Paris Agreement, must include. Iran must agree to provide "objective guarantees" that its nuclear program and activities are exclusively peaceful. My government believes those objective guarantees must include the cessation and dismantling by Iran, verified over a significant length of time, of all nuclear fuel cycle activities. We consider any activity that assists Iran getting closer to the ability to produce fissile material must fall within the scope of a cessation and dismantling agreement. Thus, such an agreement must encompass, at a minimum, all uranium conversion, all uranium enrichment, all heavy water reactor-related activities, and any plutonium reprocessing activities.

To facilitate effective verification of such an agreement, Iran must, at a minimum, ratify and fully implement an Additional Protocol. There must also be clear consequences should Iran continue to deny or impede access to any locations or individuals the IAEA deems necessary. And until such an agreement is reached, we expect Iran to adhere fully, and with no further provocative rhetoric to the contrary, to its suspension commitments. The governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom have already made very clear to Iran what the immediate consequences would be should Iran break its suspension commitments. We welcome that clarity, and we hope others at the Board will join in urging Iran against provocative steps, and in calling on Iran to negotiate in good faith with the EU3.

IAEA Board Resolutions Still Apply

Madame Chair, I hope colleagues in this room will also join me in recognizing that the November 29, 2004, resolution adopted by the Board, and indeed, the previous five resolutions regarding Iran, remain very much in effect. Consistent with those resolutions, we continue to await the day when the Agency can draw well-justified conclusions regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. We continue to support the Board's calls on Iran to reconsider its decision to proceed with construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak and to ratify promptly an Additional Protocol. We also continue to underline the importance of Iran extending full and prompt cooperation to the Agency, including any access deemed necessary by the Agency. Such access and cooperation will be essential for determining whether Iran is still hiding, away from declared facilities, some additional sensitive activities. We note that in addition to Iran's suspension of activities at declared facilities, Iran also needs to take concurrent steps with the IAEA to help remove the question marks that still exist about remaining unexplained activities and to provide assurance that there are no more hidden elements to its program.

Deputy Director General Goldschmidt's Findings

Madame Chair, I remind the Board of these outstanding requests from our past resolutions not as an academic exercise, but because Iran has failed, in every case I cite, to meet the Board's requests. Deputy Director General Goldschmidt has recently provided us new examples. Let us review what Dr. Goldschmidt just told us:

Iran claims that it cannot provide the IAEA with original documentation reflecting the 1987 offer from a clandestine procurement network to Iran for a range of enrichment-related technology. Given the significance to Iran's nuclear program of that offer, an offer Iran pursued, it seems implausible that Iran did not retain the original documentation, unless Iran was fearful of what it might reveal. We should keep in mind that the 1987 offer included some very sensitive technology, including uranium re-conversion and casting, which could be used to convert HEU [highly enriched uranium] into metal. Dr. Goldschmidt noted that "the AEOI" [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran] had neither requested nor received these technologies, but we ask whether other Iranian organizations might have either requested or received them from the clandestine supply network. We urge Iran to allow the IAEA the access necessary into the AEOI archives -- or the archives of other Iranian organizations that may have been involved -- to seek this documentation.

Iran has not yet answered, to the IAEA's satisfaction or this Board's, the question of why the clandestine procurement network would have provided Iran in 1994 with P-1 documentation similar to what was already provided in 1987. Iran has also not answered satisfactorily what transpired between Iran and the clandestine procurement network between 1987 and 1993. Is it possible that the P-1 designs were provided to Iran twice because in each case they were provided to different entities in Iran? Is it also possible that Iran is still hiding the nature of its interactions with the clandestine network during that crucial five year period? Only the provision by Iran of further documentation and access to the IAEA can answer these questions.

Iran claims to have no further information to give the IAEA regarding the 1994 offer by the clandestine procurement network to an Iranian company unrelated to the AEOI. We would call for more precision from the IAEA regarding the identity of this company. Why would a company unrelated to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran be interested in acquiring P-1 centrifuge documentation and components for 500 uranium enrichment centrifuges? We also ask how it is possible that Iran would not have any further documentation related to such a significant offer, as claimed. Is it possible that Iran does have that documentation, but is refusing to provide it to the IAEA for fear of what it might reveal about Iran's nuclear program?

Iran has been caught yet again in providing incorrect or misleading information to the IAEA, this time with regard to the dates of shipment of centrifuge bellows to Iran -- apparently shipped in 1994 and 1995, when Iran originally claimed 1997. To whom were these bellows sent, and why would Iran seek to hide the real date of consignment? And why would Iran have misled the IAEA regarding the timing of the first meeting between AEOI representatives and the procurement network, which Iran now admits took place in 1993, rather than 1994? It is clear, Madame Chair, that as the IAEA investigates ever deeper into the history of Iran's centrifuge programs, it finds ever more inconsistency from, and concealment by, Iran. What is Iran hiding?

Iran is refusing to provide the IAEA with documentation relating to the unusual past management of the previously-secret Gchine uranium mine and mill. The IAEA has raised the interesting question of why the AEOI suspended its work at Gchine between 1994 and 2000 to focus on the much less promising Saghand mine. Was any other Iranian entity working the Gchine mine during that period? We note that Iran went to great lengths to conceal the Gchine mine before finally acknowledging it under IAEA questioning in 2004. For example, while Iran referred openly to the AEOI-controlled Saghand mine, it avoided any reference to Gchine in Iran's 2003 submission to the OECD's Red Book. We urge Iran to allow the IAEA access to all past records relating to Gchine's management and operations, even, or perhaps especially, if those documents might reveal to the IAEA that the AEOI was not the entity in charge of the Gchine mine during that time period.

Iran has also been caught, yet again, misleading the IAEA about its past plutonium separation experiments, claiming -- until confronted with scientific proof to the contrary -- that it stopped its undeclared reprocessing experiments in 1993. Now we learn that Iran continued with plutonium experimentation until at least 1998, five years later. In light of the fact that nuclear material was involved and the five year discrepancy in reporting past undeclared activity, we can reach no other conclusion but that this is yet another previously unreported activity, and another breach of Iran's safeguards obligations.

Iran has continued to defy the Board's request that it reconsider its efforts to build the heavy water research reactor. Such a reactor is unnecessary from a technical standpoint, given that Iran's existing research reactor is reportedly under-utilized. A heavy water research reactor, once completed and operating, would give Iran a dangerous "break-out capability" to produce weapons-grade plutonium. We call on Iran, yet again, to abandon such an unnecessary project.

Madame Chair, we would like to hear further regarding several issues Dr. Goldschmidt briefed to [the] Board on March 1. We would like to ask the IAEA for an update on the status of its repeated requests to interview two Iranian officials associated with suspicious nuclear-related procurement activity at Lavizan. Has Iran formally rejected the IAEA's requests? If so, what reason was given? What more can the IAEA tell us about its suspicions involving those two officials? And what more can the IAEA tell us about its suspicions involving past nuclear-related work conducted at Lavizan?

Madame Chair, we also did not hear from Dr. Goldschmidt regarding the status of the IAEA's efforts to return to the Parchin high-explosive facility, and Iran's rejection of those requests. If the IAEA continues to have suspicions about that facility related either to Iran's safeguards obligations or its suspension commitments, we believe Iran must -- to be in compliance with its obligations -- provide it.

Finally, Madame Chair, we also did not hear from Dr. Goldschmidt regarding the status of Iran's efforts to construct deep underground storage tunnels at Esfahan for future storage of nuclear materials. We note that Iran failed to declare this activity in a timely manner, as required by its Subsidiary Arrangements, and we ask the IAEA to continue to visit the site and to provide this Board with regular updates on the work being done there. Such work calls into serious question Iran's commitment to maintain a full suspension of enrichment-related activity for any length of time.

Madame Chair, it is evident that Iran has not come clean about its past, or present, nuclear activities, and that it continues to deny requested IAEA access to people, places and information. These continuing contradictions between Iran's declarations and the facts as they are uncovered cannot be explained by inadvertent error. They are simply too numerous and pervasive. Until Iran makes a genuine commitment to cooperate openly with the Agency, we believe that it will remain necessary for the Board to continue to review the status of the IAEA verification and investigation efforts in Iran at every successive Board meeting. This should continue until all outstanding questions have been resolved and the Agency is able to give the Board the necessary assurances regarding absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. To this end, we hope the Board would agree that Dr. Goldschmidt's oral report was necessary and instructive, and that we should invite the Director General to request that Dr. Goldschmidt's esteemed successor continue to update the Board at every future Board meeting until all outstanding questions are answered. We would also request that today's oral report be made public.

Next Steps and Final Thoughts

Madame Chair, Iran's unrelenting pursuit of nuclear fuel cycle capabilities confronts the international community -- and this Agency and its Board -- with one of the most difficult challenges we could face. The choice is now up to Iran to take the necessary steps to secure an acceptable, peaceful solution to this matter. We all seek a diplomatic solution to this problem. We wish one day to have the opportunity to welcome back to the international community an Iran that behaves constructively and is in compliance with its obligations. But we will not accept a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.