Statement by U.S. Ambassador Jackie Wolcott Sanders to the IAEA Board of Governors

March 2, 2005

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Iran

Madame Chair,

I want to thank the Director General and the IAEA Safeguards Department for the IAEA's continuing, rigorous efforts to monitor and verify Iran's suspension commitment and to investigate its previously undeclared nuclear program. I would also like to thank Deputy Director General Goldschmidt for his detailed briefing on these issues and welcome the opportunity to make a few observations in light of his presentation.

For the first time in almost eighteen months, the Board is discussing Iran's nuclear program without considering a written report from the Director General or adopting a resolution. A casual observer might conclude that this was because the IAEA had been able to resolve all outstanding questions about Iran's decades-long clandestine nuclear activities. There are those who might assume, and no doubt Iran will insist, that Iran has lived up to its November 15 agreement to suspend all enrichment- related and reprocessing activities, or that Iran had complied fully with all the requests made by this Board over the last two years. However, as DDG Goldschmidt's remarks confirmed, such conclusions would be drawn in error. Dr. Goldschmidt's recitation of events since November provides us with a startling list of Iranian attempts to hide and mislead, and delay the work of IAEA inspectors. It is clear that Iran has continued to deny inspectors the transparency and cooperation they need to perform their duties.

Madame Chair,

As the IAEA has confirmed, three months after its suspension pledge was to have taken effect, Iran continued production of uranium tetrafluoride at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Esfahan, only completing that processing on February 18. This continued UF4 production is not consistent with the November 15 agreement to suspend "all tests or production at any uranium conversion installation." There was also no legitimate rationale for Iran to rush to load 37 tons of uranium feed material into the UCF in the days before the suspension took effect. Iran's goals seem to have been to circumvent full implementation of its suspension pledge by claiming the need to process all material in the UCF through to UF4 and move as close as possible to production of UF6 in anticipation of ending its suspension. We look forward to a further detailed update on this issue once the IAEA's inventory verification at the UCF is complete.

Iran has gone out of its way to press the limits of its own suspension commitment.

In the months following the last Board meeting, as we have heard from Deputy Director Goldschmidt, Iran proceeded to conduct quality control tests on a variety of centrifuge components. It is difficult to imagine how such testing is consistent with Iran's agreement to suspend "assembly, installation, testing, or operation of gas centrifuges."

The U.S. welcomed the clear messages that the IAEA and others sent to Iran that these activities must stop immediately, but it still remains to be seen whether Iran will take these messages seriously. Meanwhile, we encourage the IAEA to extend its suspension verification efforts to every declared centrifuge workshop, rather than relying on random visits to select workshops. We also reaffirm the Board's November resolution calling on Iran to adhere to the terms of its suspension pledge as a necessary precondition for resolving the international community's longstanding concerns about the nature of Iran's nuclear program. Given Iran's history of clandestine nuclear activities and its documented efforts to deceive the IAEA and the international community, only the full cessation and dismantling of Iran's fissile material production can begin to give us any confidence that Iran is no longer pursuing nuclear weapons.

Madame Chair,

It is not just Iran's manipulation of its suspension commitments that has raised serious concerns. The Board of Governors has repeatedly called on Iran, most recently in the resolution adopted September 18, 2004, to reconsider its decision to start construction of a heavy water research reactor. Iran has provided changing and contradictory rationales to the IAEA for this project, which would be well suited for plutonium production. Now we hear that work is continuing on this project. Yet again, Iran has defied the Board's calls not to proceed with construction of this facility and has thus far failed to provide a credible explanation for its rush to complete this project. Noting that DDG Goldschmidt has stated that the IAEA has not visited the heavy water research reactor site since this Board adopted our September 2004 resolution, we urge the IAEA to do so at the next opportunity, and to report to the Board on what it finds.

Since June 2003 this Board has repeatedly called on Iran to conclude and implement an Additional Protocol (AP). The Board welcomed Iran's decision to sign an Additional Protocol in December 2003 and its commitment to act in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol. However, since late 2003, Iran does not appear to have taken any steps toward ratifying the AP. As the Board has said repeatedly, Iran needs to take immediate steps to ratify the Additional Protocol.

Madame Chair,

Dr. ElBaradei in his report to the Board earlier this week found it necessary to call yet again on Iran to provide full transparency, noting that in some cases, Iran still has not provided full information or cooperation to the IAEA. As Dr. ElBaradei reiterated on Monday, Iran's failure to do so has created a "confidence deficit" in Iran's assertions. We could not agree more, especially in light of Deputy Director General Goldschmidt's remarks.

It is clear that Iran's cooperation falls far short of the standard and expectations set forth in this Board's last resolution of extending "full and prompt cooperation to the Director General" and "to provide any access deemed necessary by the Agency in accordance with the Additional Protocol." Iran's confirmed failure to allow the Agency full access to three of the four sites it requested to visit in Parchin, and its recent refusal to the IAEA to allow further transparency visits to Parchin, is but one troubling example. There are others.

Dr. Goldschmidt also indicated that in several instances, Iran failed to provide requested documentation after repeated Agency requests. Any such refusals by Iran to allow the IAEA full and prompt access to locations of concern, or of requested documentation related to its nuclear program, are unacceptable, and this Board should say so. The IAEA will be unable to resolve the questions raised by Iran's longstanding clandestine nuclear program and breaches of its Safeguards Agreement unless Iran provides its full cooperation. The United States requests that the Director General notify this Board immediately of any further cases of Iran denying the Agency such access. We call on Iran to allow the IAEA full and immediate access to all locations of concern, including any and all requested sites at Parchin.

But Iran's continuing failure to provide full access is not the only outstanding issue concerning Iran's nuclear program, as Dr. Goldschmidt's remarks confirm:

--We are very concerned to hear that Iran only recently admitted to the IAEA that it received an offer in 1987 from a "foreign intermediary" for an extensive range of centrifuge-related equipment and assistance. This assistance included drawings, specifications and calculations for a complete uranium enrichment plant and materials for 2000 centrifuge machines, as well as equipment for uranium re-conversion and uranium casting capabilities. Iran's failure to declare this offer in its previous declarations to the IAEA is significant, and indicates to us that Iran has still not declared the full history or scope of its centrifuge programs. Given that recent press reports of this 1987 offer included details not confirmed by Dr. Goldschmidt, such as the participants in the 1987 meeting or whether that offer was explicitly intended as the first of many "phases" in future cooperation between Iran and that intermediary, we would welcome any further information the IAEA can offer the Board about this significant development. This evidence further demonstrates Iran's consistent pattern of providing information on its clandestine nuclear activities only when confronted with undeniable evidence from other sources;

--We also hope the IAEA will clarify further what Dr. Goldschmidt meant in his reference to a 1994 offer by a foreign intermediary to provide P-l centrifuge documentation and components to an "Iranian company unrelated to the AEOI." Why would a company unrelated to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization be engaged in discussions with a foreign intermediary regarding P-l centrifuges? We hope the IAEA would inform the Board of any further information about this company and its affiliations;

--As Dr. Goldschmidt confirmed, Iran failed to notify the IAEA of its plans to construct deep tunnels for storage of nuclear material near Esfahan until after the IAEA requested a Complementary Access visit. This constitutes a failure to comply not only with the provisions of Iran's Safeguards Agreement but also with the terms of the Additional Protocol. Iran's decision to construct such tunnels for future nuclear storage calls seriously into question its commitment to maintaining a suspension for any length of time;

--Iran has thus far failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for its experiments with polonium-210;

--As Dr. Goldschmidt's remarks suggest, Iran has also failed to describe the true nature of activities at the Lavizan facility before Iran razed that facility, during which time Iran delayed access to IAEA inspectors. We are deeply troubled to hear of the IAEA's concerns that the Lavizan facility may have been involved in acquiring dual-use materials useful in uranium enrichment and conversion activities. Iran's claim that the Physics Research Center (PHRC) at Lavizan was not involved in activities declarable under NPT safeguards is simply not plausible. We urge Iran to allow the IAEA to discuss its concerns in detail with the two officials, referred to by Dr. Goldschmidt, involved in the procurement activities of the PHRC, and we urge the IAEA to continue, and deepen, its investigation into possible undeclared nuclear-related activities at Lavizan and into the PHRC's role there;

--We welcome Dr. Goldschmidt's remarks regarding the IAEA's Complementary Access visit to the Gachin mine and associated mill. We look forward to hearing more from the IAEA regarding what he described as the "complex arrangements governing the current and past administration of the mine." We continue to wonder, and to ask, whether Iran's military played a role in overseeing that uranium mine, and to what purpose;

--Iran has also failed to provide a plausible explanation regarding the timing of its past clandestine plutonium separation experiments. We look forward to a definitive conclusion from ongoing IAEA analysis regarding the correct dates of Iran's undeclared plutonium separation experiments.

Madame Chair,

My government has made clear on numerous occasions its position that the Board of Governors must report Iran's non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement to the United Nations Security Council. The Board has a statutory obligation to do so -- but thus far, has failed to do so. The Board cannot ignore forever its statutory responsibility to report this matter to the UNSC. Failure by Iran to implement fully its suspension pledge, and continued inability of this Agency to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran would represent a growing threat to international peace and security.

While the IAEA must continue to have a role in investigating Iran's past and ongoing nuclear activities and in monitoring its suspension pledge, the Security Council has the international legal and political authority that will be required to bring this issue to a successful and peaceful resolution. The Security Council has the authority to require that Iran take all necessary corrective measures, including those steps called for by the Board that Iran has failed to take. The Security Council has the authority to require and enforce a suspension of Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. In each of these areas, the Security Council can support and reinforce the IAEA's ability to pursue its investigations in Iran until the Agency can provide this Board with all the necessary assurances it requires.

Madame Chair,

As I have already noted, there remain an alarming number of unresolved questions about Iran's nuclear program. The Deputy Director General's briefing made clear that, despite the Agency's commendable efforts in Iran, the IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations--as it had been doing for years. The issue of Iran's nuclear program must command the continued vigilance of the Secretariat and of the Board of Governors. We believe the Board should receive another comprehensive written report from the Director General well in advance of the next Board meeting. Further, we would expect the Board to convene immediately to consider appropriate action if there is any further deterioration of Iran's adherence to its suspension pledge. This Board must provide appropriate policy guidance and oversight to the IAEA's ongoing investigation in order to remain effective in a world where states like Iran are willing -- and apparently able -- to cynically manipulate the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Thank you, Madame Chair.

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