U.S. Statement to the Board of Governors on Iran

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
March 5-9, 2012

Agenda Item 4(d)


U.S. Statement

Mr. Chairman,
The United States would like to extend its deep appreciation to the Director General and his staff for this 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 the mandate of the Agency in attempting to verify the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of the Security Council resolutions on Iran.  We also thank Deputy Director General Nackaerts and the Safeguards Department for their extensive Technical Briefing to Member States on February 29.  This report, and the details contained in the Technical Briefing, serves as an important reminder that Iran, despite having ample opportunities, has failed to cooperate with the IAEA, as required by numerous Security Council and Board of Governors resolutions, including the latest adopted by this Board by an overwhelming majority last November.

Among these opportunities were the visits by the senior IAEA teams to Iran on January 29-31 and, most recently, February 20-21.  Despite the sincere efforts of the IAEA to carry out its mandate, Iran chose to stonewall these senior IAEA delegations rather than offer any real cooperation in resolving the longstanding concerns with its nuclear program.  This intransigence mirrors Iran’s long-established track record of avoiding the substance of issues by diverting attention to endless discussions on modalities, procedure, and logistics.  On both visits to Iran this year, the IAEA requested access to the Parchin facility, which, as the Annex to the Director General’s November report noted, is where Iran may have conducted high explosive tests relating to the possible development of a nuclear weapon.  Contrary to Iran’s public denials, the Director General’s report clearly states that on both occasions Iran refused the IAEA access to the Parchin site.  We note recent press reports that Iran will, in principle, permit the IAEA to visit this site, but are concerned that Iran has already stated that “guidelines” must be agreed upon before the visit can proceed.  We support Director General Amano in his insistence that all such visits and inspections must proceed on the basis of established Agency verification practice.

I would like to reiterate that Iran is obligated under multiple, legally binding Security Council and Board of Governors resolutions to provide the IAEA with access to all relevant information, documentation, sites, material, and personnel in Iran, in order to clarify the nature of Iran’s nuclear program and exclude the existence of any military dimensions to it.  Iran’s continued refusal to cooperate with the IAEA despite its requirement to do so further casts doubt on Iran’s claims that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

Mr. Chairman,

The Director General’s latest report also contains the confirmation that Iran, in contravention of multiple Security Council resolutions, has begun to enrich uranium at a 20 percent level at the previously undeclared Fordow facility buried underground near Qom.  In effect, Iran’s decision to start enrichment at Fordow while continuing to enrich uranium to 20 percent at Natanz has resulted in the tripling of its capacity to produce such uranium.  We continue to wait for a credible response from Iran on the necessity for the expanded production of 20 percent enriched uranium at a facility built on a military base and buried inside a mountain.  We are particularly concerned given that a ready stockpile of twenty percent uranium shortens the amount of time required for the production of highly enriched uranium.  Iran continues to claim its burgeoning stockpile of twenty percent enriched uranium is for intended use at the Tehran Research Reactor and other similar reactors, which have yet to be constructed.  However, as we learned at last week’s Technical Briefing, in the early 1990s, Iran received the equivalent of 180 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride, sufficient to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor for the intervening more than 20 years.  At Iran’s current rate of production, it will reach 180 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium later this year, yet shows no signs of slowing its production.  Indeed, we now learn that Iran is moving to install centrifuge casings for the remaining twelve cascades at the Qom facility.

Our concerns over Iran’s ultimate purpose in producing 20 percent enriched uranium at significant levels only grow when the Director General notes that Iran has changed the purpose of this facility every year since its discovery in 2009.  At first, Iran said it was to be used to produce up to five percent LEU.  Then in 2010 Iran decided it would be used to carry out research and development at the facility in addition to producing five percent LEU.  The next year, in 2011, Iran decided it would use the facility to enrich up to 20 percent LEU.  Iran now says the facility may be used for producing both 20 and five percent LEU.  We cannot help but wonder, Mr. Chairman, whether Iran has finally informed us of the ultimate purpose of this facility.

Mr. Chairman,

The Director General’s report reiterates the Agency’s concerns regarding Iran’s failure to resolve the outstanding issues relating to the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.  The report recalls that “since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile, about which the Agency has regularly received new information.”  The information contained in the Annex to the Director General’s November report, and the lack of progress made on those issues since November, especially in the recent visits of senior level IAEA delegations to Tehran, strike at the heart of the international community’s concerns, which is that Iran has carried out nuclear weapons-related activities in the past, and some of these activities may still be ongoing today.

The open questions regarding the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program are even more worrisome when combined with other unresolved matters involving nuclear material.  In his November report to the Board, the Director General noted a discrepancy in Iran’s declarations of nuclear material in the form of uranium metal.  In response to the Agency’s requests for access to records and personnel involved in the past uranium metal conversion experiments, Iran now claims the records and personnel are no longer available.   This is not a reassuring response to this issue.  This discrepancy is all the more concerning given the information described in the Annex to the Director General’s November report which indicates that kilogram quantities of natural uranium metal were made available to Iran’s military program.  In light of the ongoing concerns regarding the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, we call on Iran to clarify this discrepancy without further delay and reassure the international community that safeguarded material has not been diverted.

The United States does not take these issues lightly.  While we remain committed to a diplomatic resolution to the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program that upholds the principles of the NPT, we will not sit idle while a Member State openly flouts its obligations and embarks on a path of deception and deceit.

Mr. Chairman,

During Deputy Director General Nackaerts’ Technical Briefing, my Iranian colleague implored us not to tax this Board with boring statements and to welcome a new chapter.  My delegation would like nothing more than to do so.  Unfortunately, we have seen little from Iran since the adoption of the November resolution calling on Iran to once again cooperate with the IAEA that gives us any real reason to believe a new chapter is forthcoming.  We urge Iran to reevaluate its posture and take this opportunity to reengage the international community and resolve all outstanding concerns about the nature of its nuclear program.  Full and transparent cooperation with the IAEA is the first logical step.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.