U.S. Statement to the IAEA on the Application of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran

November 18, 2011

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Mr. Chairman,

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

We commend the Director General and his staff for carrying out their responsibility to the Board, the Agency, and to the international community. The Director General's report contains an authoritative description and assessment of the basis for the Agency's serious concern about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program. We particularly wish to commend Deputy Director General Nackaerts and the Safeguards Department for the painstaking effort reflected in the detailed Technical Briefing he presented to member states on November 11th. Mr. Nackaerts presentation was both thoroughly professional, and deeply unsettling.

Issuing the Annex on Possible Military Dimensions to Iran's nuclear program was appropriate, as it addressed the question at the heart of international concerns about Iran of which this body has been seized for a decade. Namely, has Iran carried out, and might it still be carrying out, nuclear weapons-related activities?

After almost ten years of careful IAEA investigation of Iran's nuclear program, and despite Iran's obfuscation, the IAEA's answer is clear: the Agency's information indicates that Iran has carried out activities "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device," and "that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program, and that some activities may still be ongoing."

Mr. Chairman,

As the Director General indicates, the IAEA's analysis is based on a broad array of information from open sources, from the Agency's investigations, from Iran, and from more than ten Member States. The Director General indicates that the IAEA views this information as credible, consistent, comprehensive and, contrary to Iran's persistent assertion that this broad array of information could only have been falsified, the IAEA judged that it is "not likely to have been the result of forgery or fabrication."

The Annex clearly outlines the credible information the Agency has amassed indicating that Iran had a nuclear weapons program and that some elements of that program continued past 2003. Specifically, the IAEA details numerous activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device, including: Efforts to procure nuclear related and dual use equipment and materials by military related individuals and entities; Efforts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material; The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network; and, Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon, including the testing of components for the purpose of designing and developing a nuclear warhead for a ballistic missile. The IAEA's report notes that some of these activities have both civil and military applications, but others, such as efforts to develop a missile payload with certain dimensions, detonation systems, and other characteristics, are specific to nuclear weapons.

Mr. Chairman,

Such a watershed report by the Director General is, by itself, reason for grave and increasing concern. But the combination of this report and of Iran's continuing noncompliance with a multitude of UN Security Council and Board of Governors' resolutions compounds that concern.

The report reminds us that Iran continues its provocative expansion of its uranium enrichment program in violation of Security Council resolutions that require Iran to suspend immediately its enrichment and heavy water-related activities. Most significant in this regard, Iran is proceeding to move perhaps the most sensitive element of its prohibited enrichment program-production of 20% enriched uranium--into a hardened bunker deep underground on a military base near Qom. Recall that this is the same facility that Iran only declared to the IAEA after it was otherwise discovered. Iran says it is taking this step to protect its supposedly peaceful program from bombing. But Iran has no immediate need to continue enriching uranium to this level given that it has already stockpiled what it needs to fabricate a replacement core load of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Why, then, is Iran proceeding to triple its production capacity of near 20 percent enriched uranium? Stockpiling uranium enriched to near 20 percent is a dangerous provocation because it positions Iran to move closer to the production of highly enriched uranium in a shorter period of time. We cannot allow Iran to create additional facts on the ground by accepting the legitimacy of this new and more worrying enrichment capability.

Also relevant to nuclear material-related issues that could ultimately prove linked to Iranian nuclear weapons intentions, the Director General's report contains a new issue that requires immediate resolution. The IAEA report specifies a newly discovered discrepancy in Iran's declarations of nuclear material in the form of natural uranium metal. The Director General notes in his report that the Agency's measurement of natural uranium metal and process waste at the relevant facility in Iran was 19.8 kilograms less than Iran's declaration. At the same time, the Director General also cites information indicating that kilogram quantities of natural uranium metal were available to Iran's military program, known as the AMAD Plan. It remains to be seen whether this discrepancy could ultimately represent another piece in the puzzle the IAEA is assembling to show Iran's nuclear weapons-related activities. The Secretariat and the Board should accept no delay in Iran's response to whatever cooperation the Agency says it needs to resolve the nature of this discrepancy.

Mr. Chairman,

Instead of providing the cooperation and access needed to fully understand the nature of its past and present nuclear activities, Iran has chosen to denigrate the Agency and its processes and methodology. Iran wants to focus our gaze on process instead of on the problem of their own making-specifically, the ever mounting indicators that Iran is still trying to deceive the international community about its nuclear program. Over the last decade, the IAEA has painstakingly defined the parameters of this problem. Especially after the Director General's latest report, it is no longer within the bounds of credulity to claim that Iran's nuclear activities are solely peaceful. In fact, Iran's covert attempts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material and work on nuclear weapons technology leaves little doubt that Iran, at the very least, wants to position itself for a nuclear weapons capability.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States takes the findings of this report quite seriously. To allow this report and the actions described in it, combined with Iran's lengthy pattern of deception, deceit, and flouting of its international nuclear obligations to go without a response from this Board would not only send the wrong signal to Iran, but would also damage the credibility of the Agency and the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. We have a responsibility to act. To that end, the United States strongly supports adoption of the resolution we have crafted with our E3+3 partners. We encourage all Board Members to support this resolution and thereby send a clear message to Iran, as well as to any future potential proliferators, that one cannot run out the clock on the NPT regime.

Fully consistent with our commitment to that regime, the United States remains committed to a diplomatic resolution to the international community's concerns with Iran's nuclear program. The DG's report, and the resolution we have put forward with our partners, should be a wake-up call to Iran that it must cooperate fully with the Agency, seriously engage with the international community on the nuclear issue, and resolve all outstanding concerns about the nature of its nuclear program. We urge Iran to take this opportunity to reevaluate its posture and its actions.

Mr. Chairman,

Iran has the choice to remain isolated outside the norms of the international community, or to take a new path that would bring Iran back into the community of nations as a member in good standing with its obligations. Full transparency and cooperation with the IAEA would be a solid first step. We urge Iran to take that step without delay. And we urge the Board to speak with one voice by adopting the resolution by consensus.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.