Statement to the IAEA Board of Governors: Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

IAEA Board of Governors MeetingSeptember 10-14, 2012
Agenda Item 8
Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East
U.S. Statement

Robert Wood
Chargé d’Affaires
U.S. Mission to the IAEA 

Mr. Chairman,

The United States welcomes the Director General’s report on the Application of Safeguards in the Middle East.  This agenda item reflects our common and continuing effort to strive for a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including nuclear weapons.  This is an important and achievable goal, but it is not one that can be reached quickly or absent progress toward a comprehensive peace in the region.  Building confidence and a constructive atmosphere on these issues will be critical to advancing these goals.

With this is mind, we note that the report addresses the issue of adherence to safeguards agreements, but does not address the importance of compliance with those agreements in building regional confidence.  Noncompliance by certain regional parties with their existing IAEA safeguards obligations has had a negative effect on the hopes for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.  We hope future reports will address this serious issue.

The 2011 General Conference Resolution on the Application of Safeguards in the Middle East, “GC(55)/RES/14,” contains an operative paragraph calling on all states in the region to fulfill in good faith international obligations and commitments relating to safeguards and to cooperate fully with the IAEA.  Regrettably, not all states in the region have done so, and since the last report by the Director General on this issue, two states in the Middle East region remain in noncompliance with their safeguards obligations.  These cases of noncompliance are a matter of serious and continuing concern, and are clear obstacles to the achievement of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

In the face of these challenges, we strongly welcomed the Director General’s efforts last November in convening a forum to examine the experiences of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones, and their relevance to the Middle East.  As we have noted, we were greatly encouraged by the positive and productive atmosphere in which the forum took place and very much welcomed the initiative taken by Director General Amano to advance this long-delayed effort.

As we look toward the General Conference, we hope that Member States can once again return to a consensus approach on the Middle East safeguards issues.  As President Obama has said in the context of the NPT, we should work to define ourselves by what we share in common and not by what divides us.  These issues can only be advanced through sincere dialogue and engagement among the states in the region, who must themselves build the confidence and trust needed to make progress on this important issue.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.