U.S. Statement as delivered by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Nicole Shampaine
IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
Agenda Item 6(c): Safeguards Implementation Report for 2017
Vienna, June 6, 2018
Chair, I would like to join previous speakers in congratulating Deputy Director Aparo. We look forward to working closely with him and his entire team. You will have our strong support in carrying out your important work.
The United States welcomes the Secretariat’s Safeguards Implementation Report for 2017 (SIR). We wish to thank the Safeguards Department for the report, and, more importantly, for its excellent work over the past year. A strengthened safeguards system that provides credible assurances about peaceful nuclear activities in the state as a whole is absolutely essential to the international nonproliferation regime, and therefore to international security. The SIR is our primary window on the health of the safeguards system and an important basis for safeguards credibility.
The SIR explains how the IAEA implements effective verification measures that support the conclusions drawn for each state in accordance with the Statute, the Director General’s authority to implement safeguards as authorized by the Board, and consistent with the relevant decisions of the General Conference. The SIR also describes how the Agency fulfills its important role monitoring and verifying Iran’s nuclear activities and maintains readiness to play a verification role in the DPRK. We note that the demands on the safeguards department continue to rise, while the resources available to fulfill that demand are roughly flat.
Let me begin by noting a few positive developments from the past year, which improve the Secretariat’s abilities to draw sound and credible safeguards conclusions, and maintain these conclusions over time. First, we commend the IAEA for developing state-level safeguards approaches for an additional 62 states, primarily for states not under integrated safeguards. In combination with the 64 SLAs reported in last year’s SIR, the Agency is well on the way to developing and implementing SLAs for all states with a safeguards agreement. This is consistent with longstanding plans and guidance from the Board and is reflected in the Next Steps as detailed in the Supplementary Document. The implementation of safeguards at the state level is key to optimizing the effectiveness of safeguards in a manner that is impartial, objective, transparent, and technically sound. These benefits will only grow as the Agency continues to refine and improve SLA development.
We fully understand the circumstances requiring the report on lessons learned and experience gained on SLAs to be delayed. Delaying the release of the report until later this year will allow it to take into account the reflections of the new Deputy Director General, who has extensive experience in implementing Agency safeguards. We look forward to studying the report, but we do not support placing an artificial deadline for its release, or expanding the scope beyond lessons learned and experience gained in developing and implementing SLAs for States under integrated safeguards, as called for in the General Conference resolution.
Chair, the United States congratulates the Secretariat on the successful completion of the Modernization of Safeguards Information Technology project. This was an enormous undertaking to develop modern software applications, implement cutting edge tools, and improve performance and information security. The IAEA’s ability to receive, critically evaluate, and as necessary, pursue questions derived from third party information is essential to the credibility of an NPT safeguards system that is expected to help deter, investigate indications of, and expose undeclared nuclear activities.
Chair, the United States commends and strongly supports the efforts by the Secretariat to implement its Plan of Action to Promote the Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols. We encourage states that have not yet done so to bring a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol into force. This combination represents the de facto standard for achieving the safeguards objectives of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to provide assurances that all nuclear material is under safeguards. Where applicable, we also urge states to modify their Small Quantities Protocol or, if they have made the decision to construct a nuclear facility, to rescind their SQP altogether.
We read with great interest the additions to the section on the effectiveness of systems of accounting for and control of nuclear material and the lack of significant progress over the past few years. Late and inaccurate reporting can only lead to questions that must be answered as part of the IAEA’s routine analysis in order to maintain the integrity of the safeguards system. This adds additional costs not only to the IAEA, but also to State authorities and facility operators. Successful implementation of safeguards begins with the State itself. The United States stands ready to work with the Secretariat and with other Member States in order to overcome this longstanding problem, to provide training and assistance that state authorities and facility operators may need for effective implementation of these safeguards requirements.
The United States has consistently encouraged the IAEA to improve the openness and quality of the Agency’s reporting on safeguards and verification matters in the SIR. While the report provides information on the number of safeguards activities performed over the past year and the conclusions drawn by the Agency, it should also provide Member States with a better understanding of how the safeguards activities and evaluations performed led to the reported conclusions. Member States need to understand that the Agency is applying consistent guidance to plan, execute, and evaluate safeguards activities designed to strengthen safeguards effectiveness and improve efficiency. We believe Member States would benefit from a clearer explanation of how these safeguards processes are designed to achieve consistent safeguards objectives.
Chair, with these observations we are pleased to take note of the SIR and agree with the Secretariat’s request for release of the Safeguards Statement for 2017 and the Background to the Safeguards Statement and Summary. It is important for the Agency to report not only on its safeguards conclusions and the basis for those conclusions, but also on specific issues that continue to command the Board’s attention, including Iran, the DPRK, and Syria. In the context of real resource constraints, we would welcome the kind of dialogue mentioned by previous speakers.