Statement by U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies to IAEA Board of Governors

September 9, 2009

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Madame Chair,

The United States appreciates this latest report on the implementation of Iran's Safeguards Agreement and compliance with its UN Security Council obligations. We thank the Director General and the Secretariat for their continued impartial and professional efforts in conducting their verification mission in Iran.

This is my first intervention on the subject of Iran at the IAEA Board of Governors. So I hope my fellow Board members will grant me the indulgence of expressing the sincere hope that this will be the last intervention I must make in the absence of true progress on the IAEA Iran nuclear file. We welcome the recent DG report, a report that makes clear why Iran remains a critical challenge for the Agency and continues to be a key issue demanding the attention of this Board.

Unfortunately, the Secretariat is not getting the full and comprehensive cooperation that it needs from Iran to resolve these long-outstanding issues. The Agency's investigation is now entering its sixth year, and still many of the issues remain unresolved as a result of Iran's refusal to provide the information and access necessary to address the IAEA's serious questions, particularly regarding Iran's past nuclear warhead development program.

In fact, the latest Director General's report describes how, once again, Iran has missed an opportunity to address the concerns of the international community with respect to its nuclear program. We regret that no significant progress has been made in the IAEA's investigation for over a year, and no progress at all has been made with respect to Iran's fulfillment of its UN Security Council, NPT, and IAEA core obligations to fully cooperate with efforts to verify that Iran's nuclear program is solely peaceful.

This includes Iran's obligation to suspend uranium enrichment at Natanz per the requirements of the Security Council. The media has noted Iran's acceptance of an augmented safeguards approach at Natanz. However, that step only re-establishes the minimum-necessary IAEA monitoring at Natanz without addressing Iran's obligations. In addition, the proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities conducted at this facility should be suspended per the requirements of the UN Security Council.

The same can be said of Iran's provision of access to Arak. The Director General's report indicated that Iran permitted the IAEA to conduct a Design Information Verification (DIV) inspection at the Arak reactor. This development is, of course, welcome. However, access granted after a year of defiance is not something to be congratulated. Moreover, Iran's continued refusal to implement Code 3.1 modified of its Safeguards Agreement, to provide early notification of new nuclear facilities, disconcertingly suggests that this access will not be routine or regularized, as required by Iran's safeguards agreement and subsidiary arrangements, but rather will be ad hoc and last-minute when politically expedient. As the Director General noted in his report, Iran is the only state with significant nuclear activities that has a comprehensive safeguards agreement in force but is not implementing the provisions of the revised Code 3.1. Similarly, over a year ago, the Director General requested Design Information Verification information for the new power reactor Iran plans to construct at Darkhovin. And once again, Iran has refused to provide such information to the IAEA. The failure to apply Code 3.1 modified is a serious impediment to the IAEA's ability to properly safeguard and verify nuclear activities in Iran.

The limits placed by Iran even on this one opportunity to conduct safeguards at the Arak reactor revealed further the lack of Iranian cooperation. The report clearly indicates that, while Iran continues to make significant progress at Arak, Iran has yet to provide critical, detailed design information, in particular about the nuclear fuel characteristics, fuel handling and transfer equipment, and the nuclear material accountancy and control system. This information is fundamental to safeguards implementation and should be provided without delay.

Against this backdrop of limited cooperation, the report describes both technical progress in Iranian uranium enrichment and a total stalemate in addressing the IAEA's serious concerns about Iran's past warhead-related work.

Indeed, this latest report describes that Iran now has, at a minimum, 1,430 kilograms of low enriched uranium hexafluoride. Iran is now either very near or in possession already of sufficient low enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon, if the decision were made to further enrich it to weapons-grade. This ongoing enrichment activity, prohibited by three Chapter VII United Nations Security Council resolutions, moves Iran closer to a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity.

Taken in connection with Iran's refusal to engage with the IAEA regarding its past nuclear warhead-related work, we have serious concerns that Iran is deliberately attempting, at a minimum, to preserve a nuclear weapons option. While the Agency continues to request clarification on the alleged studies, the uranium metal document, and the procurement and nuclear-related R&D activities of military institutes and companies, as well as the production of nuclear-related equipment and components by companies belonging to defense industries, Iran continues to refuse to cooperate. This is regrettably unproductive. It is also disappointing that over ten months have gone by and Iran has failed to take what the Director General calls an important first step in addressing these long-outstanding issues by providing substantive answers to the IAEA's questions. What conclusion should the Board draw from Iran's refusal to provide substantive answers to the IAEA's questions?

Madame Chair,

It has been nearly six months since the United States joined its P5+1 partners in offering to negotiate with Iran based on mutual interests and mutual respect, without preconditions. The United States and our P5+1 partners have made a good-faith effort to reach out to Iran and find a diplomatic resolution to this issue. And while we have seen press reports that Iran has a new proposal, we have not yet received any official, substantive response from our Iranian counterparts. Nonetheless, we would review any proposal seriously in the spirit of mutual respect and would welcome the Iranian government's constructive response to the P5+1's April 2009 invitation to meet face-to-face. Moving forward with these discussions could begin to bring Iran into compliance with its international obligations and create confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

This is a fresh, new opportunity for Iran to turn the page, come back to the negotiating table, and prove that it is a responsible, trustworthy member of the international community. The pathway to a negotiated solution remains on the table for Iran and we continue to call on Iran's leaders to demonstrate genuine commitment to peace and security in the Middle East and to the international non-proliferation regime. We have made clear that we do not dispute Iran's right to a civilian nuclear program, but with that right comes the responsibility to restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's activities and program. We welcome constructive, honest engagement with our Iranian counterparts to resolve this issue once and for all.

Madame Chair,

Iran claims that all of the IAEA's concerns have been addressed. Unfortunately, this is far from the case, as the latest report and its many predecessors demonstrate. We, as members of the Board, have a responsibility to demand that the Secretariat's questions are answered, and to ensure that we can obtain confidence in the peaceful intent of the Iranian nuclear program. When a state such as Iran has violated its safeguards agreement for decades and is known to have engaged in weapons-related work, it makes this task all the more vital. When a state such as Iran continues to violate its obligations, we must respond.

Madame Chair,

My government is committed to a diplomatic resolution of international concerns over Iran's nuclear program and to the P5+1 dual track approach. We continue to call on Iran to seize the opportunity and to respond constructively to the P5+1 offer on its nuclear program made in April 2009. We are willing to engage in direct diplomacy based on mutual respect and interests and seek a willing partner. However, as I have already stated, with rights come responsibilities.

So we urge Iran to fulfill its international nuclear obligations and accept the promise of a negotiated and comprehensive agreement that is in the interest of all Iranians. We hope that Iran will not miss this opportunity, and will take immediate steps to restore international trust and confidence. We look forward to a time in which Iran is greeted by this Board as an IAEA member state in good standing and urge Iran to do what is necessary to make that a reality.

Thank you, Madame Chair.