Statement to the IAEA Board of Governors: Safeguards Implementation at the State Level

U.S. Statement as delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Laura Kennedy

Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

Let me start by to thanking the Secretariat for its clear and comprehensive supplementary document GOV/2014/41 to last year’s report on safeguards implementation at the state level GOV/2013/38.  This supplementary document is the fruit of the Secretariat’s unstinting efforts to engage with all Member States to answer all questions arising after last year’s report, engagement that included a series of technical meetings covering all aspects of the state-level concept, as well as bilateral consultations with individual Member States.  The Secretariat is to be highly commended for the transparency of this process and for its attention to detail in addressing the questions and concerns raised by some Member States.  The Secretariat has clearly shown how it will maintain the credibility and independence of its safeguards technical conclusions while remaining accountable to Member States.

The supplementary document, which is the culmination of the Secretariat’s extensive work this past year, is an important milestone in the Agency’s efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its nuclear verification role.  We welcome the Secretariat’s commitment to continue consulting with Member States as it continues to implement the State Level Concept.  Although the Secretariat’s work will continue, the Board should acknowledge this important step by taking note of the document, as recommended by the distinguished DG in GOV/2014/41.

I would like to highlight three, I believe, key points the Secretariat has stressed repeatedly over the last year and indeed again in the Director General’s opening statement to this Board.  First, the State Level Concept does not alter in any way the legal rights or obligations of the State or the Agency.  Second, any significant changes to regular verification activities in a State can only take place with the concurrence of that State.  In short, the Agency has no ability to unilaterally change a State’s obligations, just as a State cannot unilaterally change its obligations that it has legally accepted.  Third, safeguards implementation will remain objective, non-discriminatory, and technically based.  Over the last year especially, the Agency has thoroughly and convincingly, in our view, demonstrated that it is acting in the service only of the legal obligations States have accepted via their safeguards agreements and pursuant to standing Board guidance.  In this way, we believe the state-level concept will ensure a consistent, an impartial and an effective safeguards system.

Assuming the Board takes note of GOV/2014/41 as the Director General has requested, the U.S. will view it, in concert with GOV/2013/38, as the standing authoritative reference document for how the Agency implements strengthened safeguards at the state-level.  That said, such Board action would not remove the need for the Secretariat to address thoroughly and allay any lingering concerns about GOV/2014/41.  We fully expect that the legitimate questions or concerns expressed here today will be reflected in the Board Chair’s summary of discussion of this agenda item.  We therefore welcome the statements of the Director General and the Deputy Director General that the Secretariat will continue to engage in open, active dialogue with Member States and, based on experience implementing the State Level Concept, will issue further periodic reports to update the Member States.

Mr. Chairman,

It is critical that the Board consider the State Level Concept in the context of efforts to advance the safeguards system over the course of the past two decades, including the Board’s decisions on Program 93+2 and the Conceptual Framework for Integrated Safeguards.  The United States would welcome a reference to this context in the Chairman’s summary.  This would appropriately reflect the longstanding international consensus that IAEA safeguards should seek to provide credible IAEA assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in states with comprehensive safeguards agreements.  The need for such credible assurances today is more compelling than ever.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman,

The United States welcomes and echoes the widespread support that has been expressed for the Secretariat’s exhaustive efforts to engage with Member States, and for the supplementary document as the worthy fruit of those efforts.  We look forward to joining consensus to take note of the Director General’s report contained in GOV/2014/41, and we urge all to join in unity of purpose behind a strong, credible, accountable, and independent IAEA safeguards regime.  We welcome the commitment of the Secretariat to continue to keep the Board informed in a more routine basis as it gains experience implementing safeguards at the state level.  So, I ask that my statement be duly reflected in the Chair’s summary.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.