At the outset, South Africa wishes to fully associate itself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement on this agenda item.
I wish to thank the Director General and the Secretariat for the comprehensive report on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran as contained in document GOV/2004/83. I should also like to commend the Agency for its professionalism and to express my appreciation for the continued cooperation extended by the Iranian authorities to the Director General and his staff.
My delegation is pleased to note from the Director General's report that good progress has been made in resolving the outstanding issues pertaining to Iran's nuclear programme. We have noted that successive reports by the Director General have demonstrated a positive trend in the level of cooperation extended by Iran. My delegation also welcomes the assessment by the Agency that all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for and that such material was not diverted to prohibited activities.
We encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to continue its pro-active cooperation with the Agency in the implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.
South Africa has also noted that, although steady progress has been made, two issues relevant to the Agency's investigation require further clarification in order to enable the Agency to provide the necessary assurances regarding the nuclear programme in Iran. With regard to the issue of HEU and LEU contamination, South Africa welcomes the reported assistance of third countries. We trust that with their continued assistance, the Agency will be able to finalise this outstanding matter soon.
With regard to the second outstanding issue pertaining to the P-l and P-2 centrifuges, my delegation has noted that farther investigation is required of the clandestine supply network in order to corroborate the information that Iran has provided, so as to enable the Agency to conclude its assessment of the extent of Iran's centrifuge enrichment programme.
Since the clarification of these two outstanding issues require the assistance and cooperation not only of Iran but also of third parties we encourage all concerned to accelerate their cooperation with the Agency so that it is enabled to finalise these matters as soon as possible.
Of course we have to recognise that no one should rush the secretariat since it will need to take the time necessary to verify the facts. We therefore expect that the Director General will report on this matter as and when he deems appropriate.
At the September Board meeting we said that it was "now critical that the 3 EU 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."
South Africa is therefore greatly encouraged by the Paris Agreement announced on 16 November and three days later, President Thabo Mbeki, in a special letter entitled 'Give Peace a Chance' (www.anc.org.za) wrote that South Africa believes "that it provides the correct basis for the final resolution of the matter."
The Paris Agreement involves solemn undertakings and commitments by both sides and inevitably goes beyond the issues before the Board. On these President Mbeki commented: "These commitments indicate the complex interconnections among various issues facing the peoples of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. They emphasise the importance of working for inclusive negotiated agreements that respect the legitimate sovereign interests of all the countries concerned, as well as the imperative to reduce regional and global conflicts and tensions."
In this regard, my delegation welcomes the voluntary decision of Iran to build further confidence by extending the scope of its suspension to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities. In this connection I would also like to thank the Islamic Republic of Iran for its positive interaction with the our government over the past few days in helping to resolve the matter over the 20 centrifuge machines as well as the 3EU countries for their flexibility and hard work.
As my delegation has stated its principled position on various previous occasions: we recognise and support the inalienable right of all States to utilise 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 jeopardising its policies or international co-operation agreements and arrangements for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle policies". In this context, we wish to reiterate our view that the voluntary measures undertaken by Iran as confidence building measures are intended to facilitate the soonest possible normalisation of the situation and should not affect the right of any country to the peaceful application of nuclear energy.
President Thabo Mbeki emphasised our established position: "South Africa cannot support unwarranted restrictions on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (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 mat are already inherent in the NPT and undermines one of the central bargains that are contained in the Treaty."
It remains South Africa's firm 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 pivotal importance to the integrity and survival of the Agency that we resolve the issue of Islamic Republic of Iran in a way that would strengthen, and not weaken, this credible 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 disannament and nuclear non- proliferation.
A matter that remains of constant and serious concern to my delegation is the failure to separate the issue of confidence building and that of legal safeguards obligations. These are two distinct sets of issues that need to be addressed as such. I wish to underline that these issues need to be resolved on technical grounds. At the same time 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 cooperation with the Agency.
South Africa has a special interest in resolving issues through dialogue and not confrontation. Thus, President Mbeki said, 'Our government has kept regular contact with all the countries engaged in the discussions that led to the EU3/EU and Iran announcements. We have been very concerned that the dispute relating to Iran should be solved without confrontation. Apart from anything else, we were and are convinced that such a confrontation would further undermine global peace and the possibility of reducing global tension, against the interests of all countries and peoples.'
It is in this context, that my delegation would urge all Board Members to continue to seek, through dialogue and co-operation, a peaceful resolution to this matter and to continue to act in a co-ordinated and unified manner to resolve all the outstanding issues on the basis of consensus.
My President concluded by stating the following:
"Next year the international community will convene once again at the five-yearly review conference of the NPT. Important as the issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is, it will be necessary that the world community should once again focus on the challenge of nuclear disarmament.
"The situation should not be allowed to continue that the Nuclear Weapon State oblige everybody merely to focus on the issue of non-proliferation, while completely ignoring the demand of the overwhelming majority of humanity for the complete abolition of WMDs, and objective which our country has already achieved."
I thank you.