14 June 2004
U.S. Calls for Continued IAEA Investigations in Iran
Urges Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA
The United States has called for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to continue its investigations into Iran's nuclear activities following a report from IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei that noted Iran's continuing production of centrifuge components and an unsatisfactory level of cooperation from Iranian officials.
"Iran has consistently resisted following through on the steps necessary to provide renewed assurances that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful," said State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher in a June 14 press briefing.
He added, "It's clear that the agency's investigation and verification work in Iran must continue for the foreseeable future."
Boucher indicated that the IAEA's most recent report provides further evidence of an uncooperative behavior pattern on the part of Iran.
"Our view is that the IAEA has documented already 18 years of clandestine nuclear activities in Iran. Tehran has repeatedly failed to declare significant troubling aspects of its nuclear program. It's interfered with and suspended inspections, and it's failed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency in resolving outstanding issues related to its program," he said.
Boucher said that the United States urges Iran to honor its repeated pledges of cooperation with the IAEA.
The State Department Spokesman said that the United States is refraining from referring the matter to the U.N. Security Council as long as the IAEA investigations are continuing to bring information to light.
"We think that's the appropriate way to proceed at this moment," he said.
Following is an excerpt from Boucher's June 14 briefing:
QUESTION: Change of subject to Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. decided not to recommend Iran be referred to the Security Council over its lack of full cooperation with the IAEA? And can you say anything about the draft that's circulating there now and if the U.S. supports it?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think, first of all, you've heard from us for some time now that our -- we felt that Iran needed to be subject to continued scrutiny by the international community, including at this upcoming Board of Governors meeting; that the facts on Iran need to be continuing to come out; and that Iran needs to be held by the international community to meet its commitments and its promises, as well as its requirements under the International Atomic Energy Agency.
So we have -- we've welcomed the report that the Director General has put forward. The Board of Governors meeting convened today, and Iran will, of course, be one of the most important agenda items.
In his opening remark, the Director General noted that it has been almost two years since Iran's undeclared nuclear program came to light, that a number of issues remain open regarding Iran's nuclear program, and he said that it's essential that we try to bring these issues to closure within the next few months.
Foreign Minister Kharazi's statements that Iran will not accept additional restrictions on its nuclear program are, unfortunately, nothing new and make clear that Iran is pressing ahead in its program to produce fissile material.
Iran has consistently resisted following through on the steps necessary to provide renewed assurances that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. In the Director General's most recent report on Iran's program, there's further evidence that Iran's troubling lack of cooperation with the IAEA continues. In his opening remarks today, the Director General noted that Iran's suspension of enrichment-related and reprocessing activities is not yet comprehensive, due to the continuing production of centrifuge components.
The Director General was also firm in characterizing Iran's continuing lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. He noted that Iran's pattern of engagement with the IAEA has been less than satisfactory, and said that after a year of difficulties encountered by the inspectors, Iran needs to be proactive and fully transparent.
Our view is that the IAEA has documented already 18 years of clandestine nuclear activities in Iran. Tehran has repeatedly failed to declare significant troubling aspects of its nuclear program, it's interfered with and suspended inspections, and it's failed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency in resolving outstanding issues related to its program.
So it's clear that the agency's investigation and verification work in Iran must continue for the foreseeable future. The U.S. believes the Board of Governors this week must adopt a strong resolution that calls on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and to resolve all the outstanding issues regarding its nuclear program. So we, once again, urge Iran's full cooperation with the agency and call on Iran to make good on its repeated pledges of cooperation.
QUESTION: After all that, why would you decide not to --
MR. BOUCHER: Because we think that agency has continued to find out things about the program, to conduct valuable investigations, to continue to bring facts to light and to continue to keep the pressure on Iran to comply. So we think that that kind of scrutiny needs to continue.
QUESTION: Why would the scrutiny necessarily end if it were referred to the Security Council? You think the --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it would necessarily end. It's just, at this point, we think that's the appropriate step; as long as the process at the International Atomic Energy Agency is moving ahead, as long as they're continuing to bring information to light and find out new things, that we think that's the appropriate way to proceed at this moment.
QUESTION: Richard, on this, I'm just wondering what you make of the Russian position, or at least the position of President Putin that he took last week at the G-8, after having signed on to the G-8 statement on proliferation, which talked about both Iran and North Korea and trouble, problems and concerns about that. He said before leaving that, for the moment, they saw no reason to halt their cooperation, that Iran had done -- that there was nothing that they saw to make -- to give them pause about their program with Iran, so I'm just wondering what you make of that position, given what's happened in the interim now with the IAEA.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think that's really a question you can direct to the Russian Government, that the facts are clear in the Director General's reports and his statements, and as to how that might affect the Russian program, or what exactly the status of the Russian program is is really something the Russian Government has to account for.
QUESTION: I was under the impression that you guys were -- have been asking the Russians, or pleading with them for some time now, to stop it's -- their cooperation because, precisely for the reasons that --
MR. BOUCHER: We talk to the Russians very frequently about this. Our view is the one I stated. As far as their view, you'd have to ask them.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)