U.S. Statement – As Prepared for Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate – Agenda Item 6g – NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran
Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2023
The United States once again extends its gratitude to the Director General and the Secretariat for their extensive efforts to implement verification and monitoring activities in Iran, and to clarify and resolve questions related to Iran’s implementation of its NPT safeguards obligations. These questions, some of which have been outstanding for as long as four years, involve the detection of nuclear material at undeclared locations in Iran.
As reported by the Director General, after three years of engagement by the Agency and repeated Iranian delays, Iran has at long last provided a possible explanation for the presence of uranium particles detected at one of these undeclared locations, called Marivan, such that the Director General reports that questions about that site are considered no longer outstanding at this stage. While the report characterizes Iran’s explanation as possible, Iran has not provided any evidence to support this explanation. The Agency’s assessment remains that Iran conducted explosive experiments with protective shielding in preparation for the use of neutron detectors and nuclear material at Marivan. The Agency now says it has no further questions related to two of the four sites at this stage, but this does not constitute “closure” of these files, as some have inaccurately claimed. We all understand that new information or circumstances could prompt further inquiries.
Last November, the Board of Governors called on Iran to provide, without delay, technically credible explanations for the presence of uranium particles at these undeclared locations, to inform the Agency of the current locations of the nuclear material and any associated contaminated equipment, to provide all information, documentation, and answers that the Agency requires, and to provide access to locations and material as required by the Agency. Regrettably, Iran’s level of cooperation to date has fallen short. As a result, the Director General has reported once again that the Agency is not able to confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement or to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.
The absence of this assurance remains deeply concerning, especially considering more recent safeguards implementation issues in Iran. These recent issues include Iran’s failure to declare in advance a significant change to the configuration of centrifuge cascades at Fordow in January, as required by its safeguards agreement, and the Agency’s subsequent detection there of particles of uranium enriched as high as 83.7 percent. The Director General reports that Iran has now provided information not inconsistent with its explanation for the origin of the 83.7 percent particles and the Agency has no further questions on the matter at this stage. Let me underscore here that such an incident should never happen again.
The Director General’s report also raises another concerning development regarding a discrepancy in the quantity of nuclear material declared by Iran during a uranium metal dissolution campaign last year. Iran has acknowledged this discrepancy and agreed to work with the Agency to address it. However, the Director General makes clear that Iran’s explanations do not satisfy the requirements of Iran’s safeguards agreement, are not based on scientific grounds, and are therefore not acceptable. As with the long outstanding questions on the remaining undeclared locations, Iran must provide technically credible explanations as required by its safeguards obligations and whatever appropriate information and access to enable the IAEA to provide the necessary verification assurance. We look forward to additional reporting from the Director General on these important matters.
We welcome the Agency’s efforts to implement further appropriate verification and monitoring measures in Iran, including the installation of enrichment monitoring devices at the Fordow and Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plants. It is Iran’s own dangerous escalation of its nuclear activities that have created the need for these measures. Accepting additional verification and monitoring measures does not absolve Iran of its obligation to cooperate with the Agency to clarify and resolve the outstanding safeguards issues. These measures are important separate and apart from questions Iran must still address to fulfill its safeguards obligations.
It is incumbent on Iran to fulfill its legal obligations and take specific actions without delay. It must provide technically credible explanations in relation to the Agency’s findings and inform them of the current locations of the nuclear material and/or contaminated equipment. In short, Iran must provide the Agency with the information and access that it requires. These actions are essential for the Secretariat to report the issues as no longer outstanding and to remove the need for the Board’s further consideration. If Iran fails to take these actions, the Board should be prepared to hold Iran to account at the appropriate time.
The United States takes note of the Director General’s report contained in document GOV/2023/26 and requests that the report be made public, consistent with longstanding practice.