IAEA BoG – U.S. on NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Agenda Item 4d: NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran

U.S. statement as delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Louis L. Bono
Vienna, Austria, November 25, 2021

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

The United States appreciates the continued professional and impartial efforts of the Director General and the Secretariat to implement Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.  In particular, we note the Director General’s continued efforts to engage Iran on the need to provide the information and access necessary to resolve the Agency’s questions related to four undeclared locations in Iran, including three locations where the Agency has detected the presence of nuclear material.  As we have consistently stressed, these questions are related to Iran’s legal obligations under its NPT-required safeguards agreement and not its JCPOA commitments.  And, as stated in the Director General’s report contained in GOV/2021/52, these questions remain unresolved even after more than two years.  

In June 2020, the Board adopted a resolution calling on Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA without further delay in resolving the Agency’s questions.  This cooperation must include credible and verifiable explanations as to the origins and current location of the nuclear material or equipment that sampling indicates was present at the three undeclared locations, as well as information on the location and activities associated with the natural uranium metal disc connected with the fourth undeclared location.    

Regrettably, Iran has still not provided the necessary cooperation, even after extensive attempts by the Director General to develop a constructive relationship with Iran’s new leadership.  In welcoming the September 12 Joint Statement between Iran and the IAEA, we stressed that it must lead to concrete actions by Iran on an urgent basis.  Despite Iran committing to invite the Director General to Tehran in order to hold high level consultations focused on enhancing cooperation with the Agency and making substantive progress on the unresolved safeguards issues, and despite the Director General signaling his readiness to travel at the earliest opportunity, the Director General traveled to Tehran only in the last few days, and the meeting once again resulted in no substantive progress. 

Moreover, we remain deeply concerned that Iran has ceased the implementation of the provisions of its Additional Protocol. This negatively impacts the ability of the Agency to provide credible assurance of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.  We are also concerned about Iran’s decision to stop implementing modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, contrary to its legal obligations.  We reiterate today that modified Code 3.1 is legally binding on Iran and cannot be unilaterally modified or suspended.  

It is imperative that the Board break the current pattern of Iran’s eleventh-hour attempts to undercut Board unity and forestall Board action in the face of continued Iranian non-cooperation.  We are grateful that the Director General traveled to Tehran this week despite the demands of preparing for the Board of Governors meeting, and we are deeply disappointed that Iran refused to take the opportunity presented by his visit to make progress on the long list of urgent outstanding issues before the Agency.  If Iran’s non-cooperation is not immediately remedied, including on the issues raised under the JCPOA agenda, especially the restoration of continuity of knowledge at Karaj, the Board will have no choice but to reconvene in extraordinary session before the end of this year in order to address the crisis. 

As the Director General states in his report, the lack of substantive engagement by Iran has prevented progress in clarifying the Agency’s questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations and is seriously affecting the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, the core assurance that we rely on the Agency to provide. 

The Board has a responsibility to support the Director General and the Secretariat in their efforts to maintain the effectiveness of the international safeguards system on which we rely for confidence that nuclear material is not being diverted for proscribed uses.  

[Break due to technical issues]

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the Secretariat and its IT professionals for your work to bring our meeting back online. 

Iran’s legal obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement include not only the obligation to provide the IAEA with certain information and access necessary to resolve questions related to undeclared locations and material, but also the obligation to accord Agency inspectors the privileges and immunities required by the IAEA’s Agreement on Privileges and Immunities, to which Iran is a party.  We are therefore seriously alarmed at the Director General’s report that Agency inspectors continue to experience excessively invasive physical searches at the hands of Iranian security personnel, and that such treatment threatens to prevent Agency inspectors from effectively discharging their functions.  

Two months ago, the members of this Board sent a clear message to Iran that its inappropriate treatment and intimidation of inspectors is unacceptable and must end immediately.  The Board must treat the safety and wellbeing of Agency inspectors and staff as a top priority, and we condemn the practices adopted by Iranian security personnel, as described in the Director General’s report.  We request that the Director General immediately report any future incidents involving inappropriate treatment of Agency inspectors so that the Board can take appropriate and prompt action in defense of the dedicated professionals that carry out the Agency’s vital work. 

Finally, we request the Agency’s report on implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement with Iran contained in document GOV/2021/52 be made public, consistent with longstanding practice. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.