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IAEA BoG – U.S. on NPT Safeguards Implementation in Syria
September 16, 2020

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IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Agenda Item 9(b): Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic

U.S. statement as delivered by Alternate Permanent Representative Leslie M. Hayden
Vienna, Austria

Madam Chair,

The United States thanks the DG for his report and commends the DG and the Department of Safeguards for their commitment in resolving Syria’s safeguards noncompliance and keeping the Board informed through regular, factual reporting.

Regrettably, the contents of the latest report are all too familiar. For the ninth straight year, the DG has reaffirmed the Agency’s May 2011 assessment that the facility destroyed in September 2007 at Dair Alzour was very likely a nuclear reactor that should have been declared to the IAEA, and which the Agency assessed to have features comparable to the gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor at Yongbyon in the DPRK. These findings point to a clear and unsettling reality – that, as of 2007, Syria was working with North Korea to build an undeclared reactor ideally suited to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. The report further confirms that Syria continues to ignore the calls of the DG and the Board for it to cooperate with the IAEA to address outstanding questions regarding the Dair Alzour facility and related sites, and has not engaged substantively with the Agency about these sites since 2008. Instead, Syria continues to proffer half-truths and conspiracy theories meant to impugn the integrity and independence of the Agency.

The United States has full confidence in the independence, impartiality, and professionalism of the IAEA Secretariat in drawing safeguards conclusions based on all the information available to it. We urge all Member States to firmly reject efforts by Syria and its patrons to discredit and politicize the Agency’s technical conclusions. Such efforts are nothing more than a transparent attempt to shift blame and distract attention from Syria’s failure to fulfill its obligations.

Madam Chair,

The resolution of outstanding safeguards questions is essential in order to ensure that the Agency can provide assurances to the international community that the Syrian nuclear program is exclusively peaceful today and into the future. It is also critical to maintaining the credibility of the IAEA safeguards system and upholding the integrity of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In that regard, we recall the joint statement issued by 52 NPT Parties at the 2019 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting. This statement emphasized that full compliance with obligations under the NPT and IAEA safeguards agreements is at the heart of the shared security benefits enjoyed by all NPT Parties, and called on Syria to cooperate with the IAEA without further delay.

Madam Chair,

The path to resolving these concerns is clear. Syria must provide the IAEA with access to all information, sites, materials, and persons necessary to resolve questions about the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, including the three sites identified by the Agency as having a functional relationship to the Dair Alzour site. Until Syria provides such cooperation, it is essential that the Agency continue to keep the Board apprised of developments, and that the Board remain seized of this issue and be prepared to consider further action as necessary, including potential action under Article XII.C of the Statute and Articles 18 and 19 of Syria’s safeguards agreement. We look forward to continued updates from the DG and request that this issue remain on the agenda for the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting, and for all future meetings until the Agency is able to confirm that Syria’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful and the Board has determined that Syria’s noncompliance has been resolved.

Thank you, Madam Chair.