IAEA Board of Governors Meeting: Ambassador Joseph Macmanus Permanent U.S. Representative to the IAEA

March 4, 2013

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Mr. Chairman,

The United States would like to extend its gratitude to the Director General and his staff for his February 21 report on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of the Security Council resolutions in Iran. 

We are increasingly concerned that despite 12 Board resolutions calling on Iran to cooperate with the Agency and comply fully with all relevant international obligations, Iran instead has chosen to take further provocative actions that disregard the norms and standards to which this Agency holds each Member State and that each Member State entrusts this Agency to uphold.  We deeply regret that Iran continues to refuse to take any steps that would allow the Director General to change the Agency's standing conclusion that "the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities." 

In the months that have passed since the Director General's last report, Iran ignored multiple opportunities to begin substantive cooperation with the IAEA on all outstanding issues of concern, especially those related to the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.  Instead, Iran continues to withhold cooperation while broadening and deepening violations of its international obligations, including the requirement in Security Council and Board of Governors resolutions to suspend all enrichment and heavy water-related activities.  Although Iran's latest provocations are new, its pattern of behavior is not.  Even if we are no longer surprised by the audacity of Iran's pursuit of illicit nuclear activities, we cannot allow that pursuit  to be accepted as "normal." 

Mr. Chairman, 

Of all the troublesome elements of the Director General's latest report, particularly egregious is Iran's decision to install advanced centrifuges in the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz.  Given the absence of any immediate need to do so for peaceful nuclear purposes and for the longstanding legal requirement for Iran to suspend its enrichment activities, this move is deeply troubling and a blatant violation of Iran's international obligations.  Moreover, Iran has acknowledged that it already has enough nuclear material to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, yet since the Director General's November 2012 report it has installed 13 additional cascades of IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz, where it has also begun installation of the more advanced IR-2m centrifuges, and now has 11 cascades ready for additional operations at the previously covert Fordow enrichment plant.  This activity raises our concerns about the trajectory and intent of Iran's nuclear program:  in addition to being a clear violation of its Security Council obligations, successful operation of such centrifuges could expedite accumulation of a stockpile of enriched uranium for which Iran has no immediate peaceful need. 

Iran's efforts to build a heavy-water moderated reactor at Arak are also of increasing concern, particularly given that the Director General reports the reactor could become operational as early as 2014.  I remind you that this reactor, the IR-40, is being built in direct contravention of multiple Security Council and Board of Governors resolutions, and Iran has not provided the Agency design information pursuant to its modified Code 3.1 obligations.  The Director General's report notes, therefore, that "the lack of up-to-date information is having an adverse impact on the Agency's ability to effectively verify the design of the facility and to implement an effective safeguards approach." This concern could become acute if Iran does not come into accord with its safeguards obligations well in advance of initiation of operations of the reactor. 

Mr. Chairman,

In addition to our concerns with Iran's enrichment and heavy water-related activities, we are deeply concerned that Iran continues to deny the Agency access to the Parchin facility, where the Agency suspects Iran once conducted hydrodynamic experiments, a strong indicator of nuclear weapons development.  As detailed in the Director General's report, satellite imagery has shown that since the Agency's first request for access to this location, extensive activities to modify this facility have taken place - after a period of several years when no activity was observed.  We share the Agency's concerns that if and when Iran ever grants the IAEA access to the Parchin facility, the Agency's ability to conduct effective verification will have been seriously undermined.  

Mr. Chairman, 

Iran has had more than enough time to explain its activities and offer the cooperation that one would expect of a country seeking a legitimate civil nuclear energy program.  As the Director General reports, the Secretariat has met with Iran nine times since January 2012 in an effort to address outstanding issues related to the possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.  Each of these meetings provided Iran an opportunity to demonstrate that it was ready to start the structured implementation of its legal obligation to cooperate with the Agency. As the Director General reminded us in his opening remarks, "dialogue should produce results," yet the Agency is unable to report any progress on clarification of outstanding issues. While we appreciate and applaud the IAEA's unwavering commitment to dialogue in pursuit of that implementation, we are deeply concerned with what appears to be Iran's unwavering commitment to deception, defiance, and delay.  

At this stage, over 10 years into the IAEA's broader efforts in Iran, and more than a year since the Director General reported to us the Secretariat's credible concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program in the annex to his November 2011 report to the Board, we believe that it is time to return to first principles.  Namely, Iran is obligated to cooperate with the IAEA to achieve the basic undertaking of its Safeguards Agreement, including addressing the concerns of possible military dimensions to its nuclear program.  Those obligations remain even if Iran refuses to take the steps the Board views as essential and urgent, namely to immediately conclude and implement a structured approach with the Agency.  As the Director General said in his introductory statement, "the structured approach document is not an end in itself, nor is the negotiation process, and we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal: to resolve all outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear program." The time is well past that Iran already should have taken substantive steps to address all outstanding issues, and further delay is not acceptable. 

Mr. Chairman, 

Iran must by now understand that its actions are not without consequences.  Iran is inviting further isolation, pressure and censure from the international community, including possible additional Board of Governors action, until it meets its obligations and addresses the Board's concerns.  If Iran does indeed seek to change course and re-enter the community of nations that responsibly use nuclear energy in accordance with international norms and practices, the way forward is clear and simple:  cooperate fully and without further delay on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions, including by providing access to all sites, equipment, persons, and documents requested by the Agency.  We once again urge Iran to do so immediately.  If Iran chooses not to do so, this Board will need to consider carefully, and soon, what steps need to be taken to hold Iran accountable for a continued cycle of deception and delay.  We urge the Director General to report to Member States immediately the results of future Secretariat efforts to engage Iran on all outstanding issues, and to make similar timely reporting of any significant change in Iran’s uranium enrichment activities.

As reflected in the joint statement read by my esteemed colleague from the United Kingdom, the United States takes note of the useful meetings that took place with Iran on February 26-27 in Almaty in pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the crisis surrounding Iran's nuclear program.  We hope future meetings will lead to constructive, tangible progress.  However, I must make clear that we will not accept further delay by Iran in regard to implementing its IAEA obligations and that the separate P5+1 diplomatic process cannot be a substitute for such implementation. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.