U.S. Statement – Robert Wood – Chargé d’Affaires
U.S. Mission to the IAEA
The United States would like to extend its appreciation and gratitude to the Director General and his staff for the latest report on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of the Security Council resolutions on Iran. We also would like to thank Deputy Director General Nackaerts for his extensive technical briefing last week.
This week marks an unfortunate anniversary. One year ago, the Director General provided to the Board of Governors a detailed, in-depth summary of the issues related to the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program in the form of an Annex to his November 2011 report. As a result of that report, the Board adopted by an overwhelming majority a resolution calling on Iran to intensify its efforts to come to agreement with the Agency to resolve the outstanding issues related to the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
We regret that we cannot speak of any progress on this urgent matter during the intervening year. Instead, Iran chose to spend the past twelve months refusing to cooperate with the IAEA Secretariat to address the serious unresolved issues and taking steps to seriously undermine the Agency’s verifications activities. Therefore, one year on, we find ourselves still facing a series of unanswered questions, Iran’s ongoing intransigence, and Iran’s continuing refusal to cooperate. As the Director General detailed in his most recent report, Iran has not yet come to agreement with the Agency, nor begun implementing a structured approach, to resolve the outstanding issues related to the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program. This is in spite of the Board’s September resolution stressing that it is essential for Iran to do so immediately, and despite several good faith efforts on the Agency’s side to facilitate agreement. The United States hopes that Iran will approach the scheduled December 13 talks more constructively than it has in previous talks with the Agency aimed at addressing the Agency’s outstanding questions. The United States continues to maintain that Iran should take immediate steps to cooperate fully with the IAEA and to resolve the international community’s pressing concerns, including by providing without further delay substantive answers to the Agency’s detailed questions regarding the Parchin site. Thus far Iran has refused to do so. And let us not forget: some of these issues were first raised with Iran in 2005. They have had more than sufficient time to grapple with providing a full and transparent story to the IAEA with regard to their involvement in nuclear weapons-relevant work.
One step Iran could have taken over the past year was to provide the IAEA access to the Parchin site, which the Director General described in the annex to his November 2011 report as housing a large explosives containment vessel for conducting hydrodynamic experiments that appears consistent with input Iran may have received from a foreign expert with previous experience in nuclear weapons-related research. Despite repeated requests by the Agency and the Board over the past year, Iran continues to refuse access. Instead, and seemingly in anticipation of a future IAEA visit, Iran has taken a sustained series of actions to sanitize the Parchin site, several of which the Director General lists in his latest report. We take particular note of the Director General’s assertion that, while the satellite imagery shows virtually no activity at Parchin from February 2005 to January 2012, satellite imagery shows extensive activity and significant, visible resultant changes to the facility commenced in February 2012, shortly after the Agency’s first request to visit. One can only wonder at the connection. We regret that the extent and nature of the activities have led the Director General to conclude that “when the Agency gains access to the location, its ability to conduct effective verification will have been seriously undermined.”
Iran’s lack of cooperation is not confined only to its failure to cooperate with the Agency on the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program. Iran has not only refused to comply with its obligation to suspend uranium enrichment; it has provocatively snubbed the international community by expanding its enrichment capacity in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions. The Director General notes that Iran has recently completed the installation of all centrifuge cascades at the Fordow enrichment facility. Although only four of 16 total cascades are currently enriching uranium, Iran’s capacity to enrich up to 20 percent will increase dramatically once all the cascades are operational. While this is disturbing in and of itself, the facility’s history only serves to magnify the international community’s concerns. Iran has yet to explain definitively the ever-changing purpose of this facility, which Iran originally built in secrecy and only disclosed to the Agency after it realized its secret was out. This is an issue of grave concern to the entire international community. In light of the potential for Iran to quickly quadruple its enrichment capacity at Fordow, we urge the Director General to inform member states as soon as there is any increase in the number of operational centrifuges at the facility.
Our concerns regarding Fordow are compounded by the continued stockpiling of low-enriched uranium in Iran. According to the Director General’s report, Iran now has produced 7,611kg of LEUF6 enriched up to 5 percent and 232.8kg enriched up to 20 percent. We note that Iran’s stockpile of readily available 20 percent enriched uranium in the form of UF6 has increased by almost 50 percent from the time of the IAEA’s last report in August, because Iran halted the conversion of this material into U308 oxide powder. If Fordow becomes fully operational, Iran’s stockpile could increase significantly, as will the concerns of the international community.
As reiterated by the Board’s September resolution, the Board considers it essential for Iran to engage with the Agency without further delay on the substance of the Agency’s concerns, including by agreeing to a structured approach and by granting access to all necessary sites. While agreeing to a structured approach to resolve these concerns would be a good first step, progress will only be measured by Iran actually taking substantive actions to resolve these concerns. It is not enough for Iran to simply sign a document and claim that the problem is solved. The reality is, as the Director General has once more stated: the Agency is still unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. We call on Iran to engage immediately and address these serious issues without further delay.
Iran cannot be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations by attempting to make negotiation of a structured approach on PMD an endless process. Iran must act now, in substance. We request the Director General specify in his next report on Iran whether Iran has taken any substantive steps since our meeting today to address the Agency’s PMD concerns. If by March Iran has not begun substantive cooperation with the IAEA, the United States will work with other Board members to pursue appropriate Board action, and would urge the Board to consider reporting this lack of progress to the UN Security Council.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.