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IAEA BoG – U.S. on Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East
September 16, 2021

IAEA flag at the Vienna International Center, Vienna, Austria.
IAEA flag at the Vienna International Center, Vienna, Austria.

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Agenda Item 7(a): Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

U.S. statement as delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Louis L. Bono
Vienna, Austria

Madam Chair,

The United States thanks the Director General for his factual report on the “Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East” and for his commitment to supporting regional dialogue and promoting practical measures to build trust and confidence among the regional states.

Madam Chair,

The United States continues to support the long-term goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, alongside a comprehensive and durable regional peace. We are committed to working with the regional states to advance this goal in an inclusive, consensus-based manner that takes into account the legitimate security needs within the region of all states. We regret that, as the DG’s report highlights, there remains a fundamental difference of views in the region regarding how to advance these important arms control and regional security goals. We urge the regional states concerned to engage their neighbors directly to bridge this conceptual gap and to build the trust and confidence necessary to meaningfully advance these shared goals.

We welcome the factual information contained in the DG’s report regarding the status of IAEA safeguards agreements in the region and applaud those states that have embraced the combination of a comprehensive safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol as the international verification and nonproliferation standard. With the significant expansion of nuclear energy in the region, the Additional Protocol is an essential tool for all regional states to demonstrate a commitment to the strongest nonproliferation standards and to provide the international community with important assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. We encourage all states in the region that have not yet done so to sign and bring into force an Additional Protocol without further delay and – for the three states that have not yet done so – to modify or rescind, as appropriate, their outdated Small Quantity Protocols. We also urge all regional states to extend their full and timely cooperation with the Agency in fulfilling their obligations under comprehensive safeguards agreements.

Finally, we note that the 2020 General Conference resolution requesting this report, GC(64)/RES/15, 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, one state in the region – the Syrian Arab Republic – has refused to engage with the IAEA to remedy its longstanding safeguards noncompliance, which represents a substantial barrier to the pursuit of a WMD-free Middle East. In addition, the Director General has reported a number of outstanding safeguards concerns in Iran, including the detection of nuclear material particles at three undeclared locations in Iran, and the possible presence of uranium metal at a fourth undeclared location. Regarding these serious matters, in June 2020, this Board called on Iran to “fully cooperate with the Agency and satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay.” We request that subsequent reports from the Director General on this topic address these important regional safeguards concerns, which are central to the application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle East. As we have long made clear, compliance must be an essential element of our collective efforts towards advancing the universal application of IAEA safeguards in the region.

Thank you, Madam Chair.