Statement by A S. Minty, Governor for South Africa at the International Atomic Energy Agency

September 18, 2004

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Agenda item 8(d) Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Report by the Director General.



At the outset, we should like to fully support the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on this agenda item.

My delegation wishes to thank the Director General for his comprehensive report as contained in GOV/2004/60 on the implementation of the safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I should like to commend the Agency for its highly professional efforts and to express my appreciation for the continued co-operation extended by the Iranian authorities to the Director General and his staff.

In his introductory statement to the Board, the Director General noted that his report deals with "two interrelated, but distinct sets of issues". In the words of the Director General, "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". Thus, the Board has to consider, first, matters that relate to the legal obligations of Iran and, second, the situation regarding the voluntary confidence building measures of Iran involving undertakings of Iran about suspending enrichment related and reprocessing activities.

South Africa has studied the factual report of the Director General and noted that the report welcomes the additional information recently provided by Iran in response to the Agency's requests, including the prompt provision by Iran of clarifications concerning its initial declaration pursuant to its Additional Protocol. We are also pleased to note that since the June 2004 Board Meeting, Iran has granted six complementary accesses.

We have further noted that the Agency continues to make steady progress in understanding Iran's nuclear program. It is therefore expected that, if the verification process is allowed to continue unhindered and makes progress, and the relevant factual information enables the Agency in future to draw definitive conclusions that confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran's declarations related to all aspects of its nuclear program, it would then enable the Board to conclude this matter. However, if the process discloses any factual findings of serious concern, then the Board will have to reach appropriate conclusions.

We also note that the report states that with regard to the issue of laser enrichment activities and Iran's declared uranium conversion experiments, investigations have reached a point where further follow-up can now be carried out as a routine safeguards implementation matter.

There are concerns expressed in the report in relation to the issues that remain unresolved. On the issue of the origin of HEU and LEU contamination found at various locations in Iran, South Africa notes that the co-operation of other States is required to assist the Agency in understanding the remaining aspects of this contamination. We would consequently urge all third countries to provide their full and prompt co-operation with the Agency. To all those who have already done so, we express our appreciation and look forward to their continued co-operation.

Regarding the importation and fabrication of P-1 and P-2 centrifuge components, South Africa notes that the Agency has gained a better understanding of Iran's efforts regarding both designs. In this regard, my delegation would urge Iran to actively co-operate with the Agency in providing the necessary clarifications and support to the ongoing inspections. We hope that the remaining questions concerning Iran's program will be clarified soon.

As my delegation has stated on various occasions, we recognize and support the inalienable right of all States to utilize the atom for peaceful purposes only as provided for in Article IV and in conformity with Articles I, II and III of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). As agreed at the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT, "each country's choices and decisions in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be respected without jeopardizing its policies or international co-operation agreements and arrangements for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle policies".

Based on our own experience and capabilities, we believe that ownership of the capabilities that could be utilized to develop nuclear weapons places a special responsibility on the States concerned, especially those that have developed full nuclear fuel cycles. The Agency has to be able to verify that all such capabilities are being used for peaceful purposes only, including through the mechanisms available under the Additional Protocol for strengthened safeguards. In this regard, I wish to remind Members that when we negotiated the Additional Protocol, our intention was to strengthen the Agency's non-proliferation activities in verifying the non-diversion of nuclear materials in a comprehensive manner. It is for this reason that South Africa has continued to support the universal application of the Additional Protocol.

It is our view that should we find, through recent experience, that existing instruments available to the Agency are not adequate and the non-proliferation regime needs to be strengthened, we should discuss the matter collectively in the relevant multilateral fora and, if necessary, negotiate new measures within the relevant technically competent and established multilateral institutions. The matter would also have to be discussed by the 2005 NPT Review conference. Above all, it is of critical importance that any legally binding instrument must be the result of an inclusive and all-encompassing process, thereby ensuring its full co-ownership by the international community. This means that we must rely essentially on dialogue and co-operation in order to secure the best result.

South Africa has always held the view that States have the responsibility of building confidence with the international community so as to remove any legitimate concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation. This requires transparency and full co-operation with the Agency. In this regard, South Africa welcomes the report by the Director General to the effect that the Agency has been able to verify Iran's suspension of enrichment related activities at specific facilities and sites, and has also been able to confirm that it has not observed, to date, any activities at those locations inconsistent with Iran's voluntary decision.

In terms of confidence-building measures, South Africa wishes to reiterate, once again, that it cannot support unwarranted restrictions on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) guaranteed access to such capabilities for peaceful purposes by States that are fully compliant with their obligations under the NPT. The imposition of additional restrictive measures on some NPT States, while allowing others to have access to these capabilities, only serves to exacerbate existing inequalities that are already inherent in the NPT and undermines one of the central bargains that are contained in the Treaty.

It is South Africa's principled view that no action should be taken by this Board that may impinge on the Agency's statutory responsibility of verifying, in an impartial and unbiased manner, compliance with its safeguards agreements. It is of paramount importance to the integrity and survival of the Agency that we resolve the issue of Iran in a way that would strengthen, and not weaken, this multilateral institution. If we fail in this regard, we will also contribute to the further weakening of the NPT itself, which remains the only legally binding instrument that seeks to ensure both nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.


Regarding the resolution on Iran, South Africa wishes to express its profound disappointment with the inflexibility shown by some negotiating partners in arriving at the final text that was presented to this Board today. My delegation has noted that whilst the reports of the Director General have been increasingly positive regarding the level of co-operation extended by Iran and the clarification it has provided on many issues raised by the Agency, the Board's resolutions have, in contrast, become increasingly strong. South Africa is concerned that we should not seek the path of confrontation but that of negotiation. We would call on all involved to co-operate in good faith so that this matter can be resolved in a manner that will contribute to maintaining the solidarity of the Board and the strengthening of the Agency.

The proposals that we made to improve the language of the resolution, both in the context of the Non-Aligned Movement and bilaterally, were based on issues of principle, in line with the report of the Director General and in accordance with the statutory mandate of the Agency and international law. These proposals were made to ensure that the text accurately reflects and is fully consistent with the powers and mandate of the Board. We believe that it is of paramount importance for all of us to address our concerns in an appropriate manner and do nothing that would damage the integrity, authority and credibility of the Agency.

In this context, Chairperson, we have consistently emphasized the importance of differentiating between the legal obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the confidence building measures that it has voluntarily undertaken, without in any way negating the importance of such measures to remove concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation.

We also do not believe in micro-managing the Director General. It will be perilous for the Agency to do so.

We are, furthermore, very seriously concerned about the evolution of the recent discussions arising out of the original agreement between the three European countries and Iran. We are grateful for the important interaction of the three European countries and the co-operation by Iran in agreeing to the voluntary confidence building measures, which allowed us to make important progress on this matter. It is now critical that the three European countries and Iran, with the necessary goodwill and good faith, clarify and resolve all the pertinent issues so that we are able to make further progress.


My delegation has noted that the Agency has, to date, not reported on any evidence found of the diversion of Iran's nuclear program for military purposes. However, we call on Iran to continue taking all possible measures to assist the Agency in clarifying the outstanding issues, build confidence and thus contribute to the process that can bring these matters to a close. At the same time, we are fully aware of the fact that it will also need commitment on the part of all third countries to also provide their full and pro-active co-operation to the Agency to clarify and resolve these matters. Without their fullest co-operation, the Agency will not be able to bring finality to this matter.

In conclusion, Chairperson,

We hope that our deliberations today will be properly recorded - including the NAM proposals - and that these texts also be placed on the IAEA website.

I also wish to thank the Ambassador of Germany for his reminder relating to our working methods.

We look forward to the Director General's report to the November 2004 Board meeting, or earlier, to enable the Board to reach appropriate conclusions. My delegation would urge all Board Members, through dialogue and co-operation, to ensure that we continue to act in a coordinated and unified manner to resolve all the outstanding issues on the basis of consensus.

We wish to thank the Director General and his staff for keeping the Board informed of developments related to the implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran and look forward to an early conclusion of all outstanding issues.

Finally, Chairperson, I would like to pay tribute to your role as our Chairperson and to thank you for your personal kindness and the courtesy extended to all Members of the Board. It is vital that the Chair always remains fair and impartial. We shall miss you and South Africa will also miss you as our alphabetical neighbor.

I thank you.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
18 September 2004