EU Statement at IAEA Board of Governors on the NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran

March 8, 2023

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The following countries align themselves with this statement: North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The European Union welcomes Director General's update on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in Iran contained in document GOV/2023/9. We commend the Director General Rafael Grossi, and the Secretariat for their professional, objective, independent and impartial work in verifying Iran's safeguards obligations. The EU encourages the IAEA to continue to use all safeguards-relevant information available to it as per standard practice.

For the past years, the EU has repeatedly expressed, and again reiterates today, its serious concerns at the presence of nuclear material at undeclared locations in Iran. The EU is deeply concerned that the current location of this nuclear material and/or of equipment contaminated by nuclear material, which may still exist in Iran today, is not known to the Agency.

On many occasions, the EU has called upon Iran to urgently fulfill its legal obligations, including under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), by providing technically credible explanations and grant necessary access. The Board of Governors adopted three resolutions, in June 2020, June 2022 and November 2022, to call on Iran to clarify all outstanding safeguards issues.

In its resolution of 17 November 2022, the Board expressed its profound concern and decided on actions that Iran had to take, without any delay, with a view to clarifying all outstanding safeguards issues. The Board unequivocally decided that Iran had to: provide technically credible explanations; inform the Agency of the current location(s) of the nuclear material and/or contaminated equipment; provide all necessary information, documentation and answers; and provide the necessary access to locations and materials, including for the taking of samples. 

Iran has thus far failed to provide the expected substantial cooperation. The EU notes with regret that, by the end of February 2023, no progress had been made towards resolving any of the outstanding safeguards issues. We urge Iran to take the expected necessary actions.

The EU welcomes the efforts by the Director General and the Secretariat to clarify the outstanding safeguards issues. We take note of the DG’s visit to Iran on 3 and 4 March 2023 and of his meetings with the President of Iran, with the Vice-President and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and with the Foreign Minister of Iran. 

The EU further takes note of the 4 March 2023 Joint Statement by the IAEA Director General and the Vice-President and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. This development provides a perspective, and we expect Iran to act promptly to restore confidence by entering into full, substantial and constructive cooperation with the Agency. All safeguards issues will remain under our close scrutiny, until they are fully clarified.

It is extremely concerning that the Agency still cannot confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement, unless and until Iran provides technically credible explanations and informs the Agency of the current location(s) of the nuclear material and/or contaminated equipment. The Agency is therefore not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful. Substantial and swift action by Iran to deliver on its commitments and safeguards obligations, including taking the actions specified in the November 2022 resolution, is essential and urgent to preserve the integrity of the IAEA’s safeguard regime.

The EU notes with concern Iran’s failure to provide the required pre-notification to the Agency of changes in the configuration and operation of advanced centrifuges at Fordow, contrary to its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement. Our concern is further exacerbated by the presence of HEU particles containing up to 83.7%, which is gravely inconsistent with the level of enrichment declared by Iran at 60% at this facility with such advanced centrifuges. The EU’s concerns are exacerbated by the fact that Iran has modified the configuration of the centrifuges able to quickly produce high enriched materials at levels considerably over 60%, without any credible civilian justification. This further undermines Iran’s argument that its nuclear pogramme is for peaceful purposes only. We note that the Agency and Iran have initiated technical discussions to clarify this issue, and we expect Iran to provide full cooperation in this regard. The EU supports the Director General continuing to regularly and fully report on this issue.

The EU recalls that the current global verification standard is based on the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement combined with an Additional Protocol, which is necessary for the Agency to provide credible assurances on the absence of undeclared nuclear activities. The vast majority of the IAEA’s Member States have accepted this as the standard. The EU reiterates its full support to and trust in the IAEA for the fulfilment of its mandate under the NPT Safeguards Agreements. We stress that the implementation of modified Code 3.1 is a legal obligation for Iran under its CSA, which cannot be modified or suspended unilaterally and urge Iran to resolve this issue. The EU strongly supports DG Grossi’s tireless efforts to pursue constructive engagement with Iran in order to address all issues that need to be urgently resolved.  

The EU takes note of the report, looks forward to the Director General continuing to report to the Board of Governors, as appropriate, and requests that this report be made public. The EU expects rapid and tangible progress to be achieved in the shortest timeframe and shall consider further action accordingly.

Thank you, Chair.