U.S. Statement on Safeguards in the Middle East to the IAEA Board of Governors

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
September 12-16, 2011

Agenda Item 6(a)

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

U.S. Statement

Ambassador Glyn Davies

Permanent U.S. Representative to the IAEA

Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

The United States welcomes the Director General’s report on the Application of Safeguards in the Middle East.  This agenda item reflects our common and continuing effort to strive for a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including nuclear weapons.  This is an important and achievable goal, but it is not one that can be achieved quickly or absent progress toward the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region.  Building confidence and a constructive atmosphere on these issues will be critical toward advancing these goals.

Against that backdrop, we note with disappointment that the report does not address the issue of certain regional parties’ noncompliance with their existing IAEA safeguards agreements, and the negative effect these compliance issues have on the hopes for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.  We hope future reports will address this serious issue.

The 2010 General Conference Resolution on the Application of Safeguards in the Middle East, GC(54)/RES/16, 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, not all states in the region have done so, and since the last report by the Director General on this issue, another state in the Middle East region was found in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement by this Board. These cases of noncompliance are a matter of serious and continuing concern, and are obstacles to the achievement of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

While underlining that the ultimate goal we seek — a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction — cannot be achieved unless states comply with their safeguards commitments, we strongly welcome the Director General’s efforts to convene a forum this November to examine the experiences of existing nuclear weapon-free zones, and their relevance to the Middle East.  We are extremely pleased the forum has been scheduled and very much welcome the initiative taken by Director General Amano to advance this long-delayed effort.  We also hope member states will participate in a positive and constructive manner and avoid the temptation to politicize the proceedings.   And of course, we will continue to do our part to advance preparations for a regional conference in 2012 on a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East, as called for in the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document.  I would also like to congratulate the EU on its hosting of a successful seminar two months ago.

Mr. Chairman,
The best step forward would be for member states to return to consensus on Middle East safeguards issues at the IAEA General Conference.  As the President has said in the context of the NPT, we should work to define ourselves by what we share in common and not by what divides us.  I’m sure that this principle can lead to better results here in meetings of the IAEA:  to more dialogue and less rhetoric, and to more engagement and less rancor. Only in this way can states in the region build the confidence and trust
needed to make progress on this important issue.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.