IAEA Board of Governors Meeting: Implementation of NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of UN Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran

U.S. Statement, Ambassador Joseph E. Macmanus, U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA
June 3, 2013

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Mr. Chairman,

The United States would like to extend its gratitude to the Director General (DG) and his staff for his May 22 report on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of the Security Council resolutions on Iran.

Though much has changed over the ten years since the Board received its first written report on Iran's illicit nuclear activities, two things have remained constant.  First, Iran has not taken the steps necessary for full compliance with its safeguards agreement.  To briefly review the history:  as first reported in June 2003, "Iran has failed to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material, the subsequent processing and use of that material and the declaration of facilities where the material was stored and processed."  In September 2005, following further reports from the Director General and the collapse of earlier efforts to resolve questions about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, the Board found that Iran's many failures to meet its safeguards obligations constituted non-compliance.  In March 2006, in requesting that the DG report Iran's non-compliance to the Security Council, the Board identified the steps necessary for Iran to resolve the outstanding questions and build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program, including suspension of all enrichment-related activities, reconsideration of constructing a heavy-water research reactor, and ratification and implementation of an Additional Protocol (AP).  Seven years later, Iran continues to install centrifuges, produce enriched uranium, forge ahead with constructing the IR-40 reactor at Arak, while making no progress in ratifying an AP or acting in accordance with provisions of the AP in the interim.  As a result, the Agency remains unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore it cannot conclude that all material is for peaceful purposes.

The second constant over the past decade has been Iran's refusal to cooperate fully with the IAEA and behave like a state with purely peaceful nuclear ambitions that has nothing to hide.  Instead, Iran has asserted unilateral interpretations of its obligations, in direct defiance of this Board and of the broader international community.

Iran's illicit nuclear activities began over 25 years ago, and the complete picture is still not clear.  It is impossible for the Agency to conduct its mandate to verify the complete nature of Iran's nuclear program when Iran routinely changes its story regarding its past and present nuclear activities and does not
provide the information and access the IAEA needs.  Instead of cooperating with the IAEA, Iran has attempted to justify its position by unilaterally re-defining its international obligations and representing a false history of its interactions with the Agency.  Most recently, on May 21, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi claimed that Iran "respects its obligations based on the NPT and safeguards agreement, and it will not fall short of them."  This and similar statements routinely put forth by Iran are not born out by the facts.  Quite to the contrary, a review of the facts - as reported by the IAEA - can lead to only one conclusion:  Iran's statements claiming to be in good standing and fully cooperating with the IAEA are simply false.

Let's review the record, as reported to the Board by the IAEA:

*    Until the Agency inquired in 2003 about certain transfers of nuclear material, Iran failed to report the import of natural uranium in the early 1990s, as well as the subsequent processing and use of this undeclared material to test centrifuges as part of its then-secret enrichment program.

*    In February 2003, Iran initially told the IAEA that the centrifuges for its enrichment program were based on open-source information and extensive modeling alone.  It later admitted that Iran had in fact received the designs through a foreign intermediary.

*    As reported in 2003, Iran conducted various undeclared nuclear activities at multiple locations throughout the country including:

 -- experiments involving nuclear material at the Kalaye Electric Company;
 -- laser enrichment-related activities at the Tehran Nuclear Research Center;
 -- experiments utilizing hot cells to separate plutonium; and,
 -- undeclared uranium processing and production of uranium compounds at Esfahan and the Tehran Nuclear Research Center.

*    Iran built most of its currently operating nuclear facilities in secret.  It did not declare the Natanz enrichment facility and heavy water production plant at Arak until February 2003, and only did so after the IAEA learned about the facilities from press reports.  Iran additionally waited until after the Agency
inquired to admit that it conducted unsafeguarded nuclear activities involving uranium.  As the Director General reported in November 2003, Iran had a "policy of concealment...with cooperation being limited and reactive, and information being slow in coming, changing and contradictory."  This pattern, unfortunately, has repeated since then.

*    Six years later, Iran again did not declare an underground enrichment facility under construction, this time at Fordow, until the facility's existence was exposed in the fall of 2009.

*    And now Iran refuses to implement its modified Code 3.1 obligations to declare new nuclear facilities as soon as a decision is taken to construct them.

Mr. Chairman,

In addition to repeatedly concealing information from the IAEA, Iran has on more than one occasion taken steps to hinder the ability of the Agency to fulfill its verification mandate.  In August 2003, the IAEA reported that Iran had undertaken "considerable modification" of the Kalaye facility before allowing inspectors to collect environmental samples, though in the end these
modifications did not prevent the IAEA from finding indications of undeclared use of nuclear material.  In September 2004, the IAEA reported that it had visited a site at Lavisan-Shian, which Iran claimed had been the site of a Physics Research Center, or PHRC, that was razed in 2003.  The Agency sought information from Iran about the PHRC's efforts to acquire dual use equipment and material that could be useful in uranium enrichment and conversion activities.

Iran's handling of IAEA access to Lavisan-Shian is alarmingly similar to the situation the Agency currently faces regarding the likely site of a high explosives test chamber at Parchin, where the Agency suspects Iran conducted activities with nuclear weapons applications, including hydrodynamic experiments.  The razing of Lavisan-Shian prevented the Agency from verifying the nature of the activities that took place there.  It is quite possible that Iran's efforts now to sanitize the location of interest within the Parchin site will have the same effect.  We note with serious concern the Director General's recent report that "the extensive and significant activities which have taken place since February 2012 at the location within the Parchin site to which the Agency has repeatedly requested access have seriously undermined the Agency's ability to undertake effective verification."  Despite the extensive and ongoing sanitization efforts, Iran continues to deny the Agency the access that it has been requesting now for nearly 18 months.

Mr. Chairman, 

In addition to its pattern of noncompliance and noncooperation, Iran claims the right to interpret unilaterally its obligations.  Iran insists that it is not required to implement the modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, which calls on Iran to provide design information and inform the Agency about a nuclear facility “as soon as the decision to construct, to authorize construction or modify has been made."  While Article 39 of Iran's Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement states that Iran's Subsidiary Arrangements "may be extended or changed by agreement between the Government of Iran and the Agency," the point is clear:  there is no mechanism for unilateral suspension of an agreed provision.  Iran remains obligated to implement the modified Code 3.1--which it signed in February 2003--and the Agency has not agreed to any change. 

As the Director General reiterated in his November 2012 report, Iran remains the only State with significant nuclear activities that has a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement in force but is not implementing the modified Code 3.1.  Iran's refusal to fulfill this basic obligation must necessarily cause one to ask whether Iran is again pursuing covert nuclear activities.  The most recent report by the Director General underscores that Iran's noncompliance with its
modified Code 3.1 obligations reduces the Agency's level of confidence in the absence of undeclared nuclear facilities.  We are deeply troubled that Iran claims that the IR-40 heavy water reactor at Arak could be commissioned as soon as early 2014, but still refuses to provide the requisite design information for the reactor.  According to the Director General, this design information is "urgently needed" as Iran's refusal to provide it "is having an increasingly adverse impact on the Agency's ability to effectively
verify the design of the facility and to implement an effective safeguards approach."

Mr. Chairman,

The historical record documents Iran's longstanding practice of deception and noncompliance and it is broadly known by this Board.  In September 2003, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution expressing grave concern that "more than one year after" the initial IAEA inquiries, Iran had not enabled the Agency to provide the assurances required by Member States that there were no undeclared nuclear activities in Iran.  The Board also decided, unanimously, that it was "essential and urgent" that Iran cooperates fully with the Agency.  That was ten years ago.  The United States regrets that, now, ten years later, these issues remain unresolved and Iran has continued to take further provocative steps.  As detailed in the Director General's latest report, Iran continues to contravene multiple legally binding Board of Governors and UN Security Council resolutions.  Iran continues to install advanced centrifuges, to expand its enrichment capability at the previously undeclared underground facility at Fordow, to build the IR-40 reactor, to sanitize the Parchin facility, and to deny the Agency the full access it has requested to the people, places, and documents relevant to the possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.

The Agency has attempted numerous times to reach an agreement on a structured approach for Iran to address the Agency's concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.  Iran refuses to cooperate.  It refused again on May 15.  Substantive cooperation with the Agency remains at a standstill.  The United States notes the Director General's statement in his report that "given the nature and extent of credible information available to the Agency about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program, the Agency considers it essential and urgent to engage with it on the substance of the Agency's concerns."  We urge Iran to address the serious nature of the longstanding concerns.  The window of opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.  

We also request the Secretariat to inform the Board in greater detail as to the concrete reasons why it has not been possible to conclude a structured approach agreement with Iran, an agreement that must be in accordance with the Agency's verification practices.  The Director General's assessment that talks with Iran are "going around in circles" is convincing.  If there is no concrete progress by the next Board, we will work with other Board members to consider further action as appropriate pursuant to the Statute.

Mr. Chairman,

Iran claims to be pursuing nuclear energy for the benefit of the Iranian people.  Iran must ask itself, the Iranian people should ask their government:  What benefits have Iran's deceptive practices, defiance, and rejection of the international norms earned it?  Instead of achieving benefits and joining the community of responsible nations that enjoy the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Iran's actions have resulted in 12 IAEA Board of Governors resolutions and six UN Security Council resolutions.  Iran blames others for its current situation, but Iran has to look no further than its own record and continuing behavior to see the cause of the consequences it will increasingly face until it chooses to change course. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.