Introductory Statement by Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to the Board of Governors (Excerpts)

September 13, 2004

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Our agenda for this meeting includes topics related to all areas of Agency activity - technology, safety and security, and verification - as well as a number of management issues. In this statement, I will focus primarily on developments since the June Board.

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Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Status of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols I am pleased to report, since the last meeting of the Board, the entry into force of a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the Seychelles and additional protocols with Armenia and Paraguay. The Board also has before it additional protocols for Mauritius and for Serbia and Montenegro, which, if approved, would bring the total number of States with protocols approved to 92. The Agency is implementing additional protocols in 61 States.

Despite these welcome developments, there remain 42 States party to the NPT that have not yet fulfilled their Article III obligation to bring into force comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency, and 133 States do not have additional protocols in force.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea The situation in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to pose a serious challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As I have reported repeatedly to the Board, since 1993 the Agency has been unable to implement fully its comprehensive NPT safeguards agreement with the DPRK. The Agency has never been allowed by the DPRK to verify the completeness and correctness of the DPRK's initial 1992 declaration - specifically, that the DPRK has declared all the nuclear material that is subject to Agency safeguards under its NPT safeguards agreement. Since December 2002, the Agency has not been permitted to perform any verification activities in the DPRK and cannot therefore provide any assurance about the non-diversion of nuclear material.

The three rounds of the six-party talks so far, involving China, the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the USA, are steps in the right direction. As I stated before, the Secretariat remains ready to work with all parties towards a comprehensive solution that would, inter alia, provide assurance to the international community that all nuclear activities in the DPRK are exclusively for peaceful purposes.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement of the Socialist People´s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya The Agency´s verification activities in Libya over the course of this year have confirmed that, for many years, Libya pursued a clandestine programme of uranium conversion and enrichment. Since last December, we have been working closely with the Libyan authorities to gain a complete picture of Libya´s nuclear programme. Libya, throughout this period, has provided prompt access to locations requested, made senior personnel available and taken corrective actions as required by its safeguards agreement.

The report before you summarizes the details of our efforts since June. Our assessment to date is that Libya´s declarations on its uranium conversion programme, enrichment programme and other past nuclear related activities appear to be consistent with the information available to and verified by the Agency. As indicated in the report, some questions related to the acquisition of material and technology - including the origin of uranium contamination on some equipment - still need further investigation in order to verify the completeness and correctness of Libya's declarations of its nuclear programme.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran You have before you a detailed progress report on the Agency´s verification work in Iran. The report deals with two interrelated but distinct sets of issues - the first related to the Agency´s verification of Iran's compliance with its legal obligations under its NPT safeguards agreement, and the second related to the Agency's monitoring of Iran's voluntary undertakings to suspend enrichment related and reprocessing activities, as confidence building measures requested by the Board.

Regarding the first set of issues, as you can see from the report, the Agency is making steady progress in understanding the nature and extent of Iran's nuclear programme, and no additional undeclared activities on the part of Iran have come to light during this period. Iran has continued to act as if its additional protocol were in force. The Agency has gained access to requested locations. Iran has also provided new information in response to Agency requests, although in certain instances the process needs to be accelerated. While in some cases information has been provided promptly, in other cases information has regrettably been provided so late that it has not been possible to include an assessment of it in this report.

I am pleased to note that as a result of the Agency's investigations, some previously outstanding issues - namely Iran´s declared laser enrichment activities and Iran´s declared uranium conversion experiments - have reached the point where any further follow-up needed will be carried out as part of routine safeguards implementation.

As I mentioned in my report to the June Board, two issues remain central to understanding the extent and nature of Iran's nuclear programme.

Regarding the origin of uranium contamination found at various locations in Iran, as mentioned in the report, I should note that some progress has been made - in part due to the cooperation provided by other States - towards ascertaining the source of the high enriched uranium (HEU) found at the Kalaye Electric Company and Natanz. From the Agency's analysis to date, it appears plausible that this HEU contamination may not have resulted from enrichment of uranium by Iran at these locations. However, we are continuing to pursue the identification of sources and reasons for such contamination, as well as the source of the low enriched uranium (LEU) contamination found in various locations in Iran, including on domestically manufactured components.

The Agency has also gained a better understanding of Iran´s efforts to import, manufacture and use centrifuges of both the P-1 and P-2 design; however, further investigation is needed, inter alia, to confirm Iran´s statements regarding the absence of P-2 centrifuge related activities in Iran between 1995 and 2002. This will require additional information on the part of Iran, and further cooperation by other States, as well as by companies and individuals that were involved in the illicit procurement network.

With regard to confidence building measures that the Board requested be in place until certain conditions are met, as you are aware, Iran in June reversed some of its earlier decisions regarding the suspension of some enrichment related activities. I have continued to stress to Iran that, during this delicate phase while work is still in progress to verify its past nuclear programme, and in light of serious international concerns surrounding that programme, it should do its utmost to build the required confidence through the Agency.

I would urge Iran therefore to continue to accelerate its cooperation, pursuing a policy of maximum transparency and confidence building, so that we can bring the remaining outstanding issues to resolution within the next few months and provide assurance to the international community. This is clearly in the interest of both Iran and the international community and should trigger a broad dialogue on many of the underlying issues. I would also urge those States from which components or materials may have originated to continue their cooperation with the Agency. I should note that their cooperation is indispensable to the Agency's ability to bring some of the important outstanding issues to closure.

On a related note, I should mention that the Agency has been making progress in investigating the illicit procurement network responsible for supplying nuclear material and equipment, and in verifying some of the statements made by Iran and Libya in connection with this network. I will provide more information to the Board about the results of this investigation upon its completion.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Republic of Korea The Republic of Korea (ROK) brought its additional protocol into force in February 2004. Last month, in connection with the submission of the ROK's initial declarations pursuant to the additional protocol, the ROK informed the Agency that, in 2000, laboratory scale experiments involving the enrichment of uranium - using the atomic vapour laser isotope separation (AVLIS) method - had taken place at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. The Agency promptly sent a team to the ROK, headed by the Director of the Safeguards Operations Division concerned, to verify this and other information.

The inspection team visited the facility where these experiments and associated physics measurements of uranium are said to have taken place, as well as other facilities where the ROK stated that its scientists had conducted uranium conversion activities in the 1980s. One of these conversion activities, which took place at three facilities that had not been declared to the Agency, involved the production of about 150 kilograms of natural uranium metal, a small amount of which, according to the ROK, was later used in the AVLIS experiments.

The ROK authorities have pointed out that the uranium enrichment experiments took place in the context of a broader experimental effort to apply AVLIS techniques to a wide range of stable isotopes. According to the ROK, only about 200 milligrams of enriched uranium were produced.

During the same trip, the inspection team visited another facility for which the results of environmental samples had revealed the presence of slightly irradiated depleted uranium with associated plutonium. The ROK authorities informed the Agency that, in the early 1980s, a laboratory scale experiment had been performed at this facility to irradiate 2.5 kilograms of depleted uranium and separate a small amount of plutonium.

The ROK authorities have stated that all the above experiments were performed without the knowledge or authorization of the ROK Government.

With the full cooperation of the ROK, the team was able, at each of the facilities visited, to examine the associated records available, perform measurements, take photographs, collect environmental samples, interview a number of the scientists involved, and view the dismantled equipment that the ROK stated had been associated with these experiments. The team was also able to place Agency seals on major components of the dismantled equipment and associated nuclear materials.

It is a matter of serious concern that the conversion and enrichment of uranium and the separation of plutonium were not reported to the Agency as required by the ROK safeguards agreement.

The Agency will continue its investigation of all aspects relevant to this new information. I will report to the Board as appropriate, and not later than at its meeting in November. I would ask the Republic of Korea to continue to provide active cooperation and maximum transparency, in order for the Agency to gain full understanding of the extent and scope of these previously undeclared activities, and to verify the correctness and completeness of ROK´s declarations relevant to its nuclear programme.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East Pursuant to the mandate given to me by the General Conference, I have continued my consultations with the States of the Middle East region on the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East, and on the development of model agreements. Once again, I regret to report that I have not been in a position to make progress on these fronts. However, in my continuing contacts with representatives from States of the Middle East region, as well as in my visits to the region, I have consistently sought to encourage new ideas and approaches that could help to move these important mandates forward.

The General Conference has also asked me to organize a forum on the relevance of the experience of other regions with existing nuclear-weapon-free zones - including confidence building and verification measures - for establishing such a zone in the region of the Middle East. Based on my consultations with States of the region, including during my recent visit to Israel, I intend to organize such a forum early next year, and further consultations are in progress towards that end.

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The Agency continues to assume growing responsibilities in nearly all areas of its work, including verification, safety and security, and the use of nuclear technologies for sustainable development. In this context, I would stress the value of the close partnership between the Secretariat and its Member States, which I trust will continue to be forthcoming.