21 June 2004

U.S. Urges IAEA to Adopt New Steps Regarding Iran's Nuclear Program

Says Iran's nuclear program threatens international peace, security

The United States has urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to consider new measures to tighten pressure on Iran to reveal the full extent of its nuclear activities.

"The U.S. continues to believe that Iran's documented non-compliance should be reported to the UN Security Council and that its nuclear program presents a threat to international peace and security," read the U.S. statement to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting June 17.

Citing the need for "urgent steps" to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, the statement suggested that the IAEA director general provide not only a periodic update of developments in the inspection process, but also a "cumulative assessment" of the Agency's work on Iran since August 2002.

Following is the text of the U.S. statement to the IAEA Board of Governors:

(begin text)

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
June 17, 2004
Agenda Item 8(e): Implementation of Safeguards in Iran
Statement by the United States of America

Mr. Chairman,

I want first to thank the Director General and the Safeguards Department for their June 1 report on Iran, the technical briefing offered to missions last week, the DG's introductory statement to the Board on Monday, and Deputy Director General Goldschmidt's statement Thursday morning. We have the highest respect for the Agency's expert and impartial work, which provided a sound and reliable basis for our consideration of this agenda item.

The United States welcomes the Board's action today in adopting the resolution drafted and sponsored by Britain, France, and Germany. That resolution once again put the Board, and through it the broader international community, unequivocally on record as rejecting Iran's continuing tactics of delay, denial and deception with regard to its nuclear program, and firmly in support of the Agency's highly professional inspection efforts throughout the "year of difficulties" the DG referred to in his introductory statement. The international campaign that Iran waged in recent months, insisting it had taken all the steps needed to close the "Iran file" at this meeting, failed because Board members of all geographic regions and political persuasions saw through it. Once again at this session, the Board has found the evidence too strong and too consistent and too troubling to permit the Iran file to be returned to handling on a "business as usual" basis.

That outcome does not come as a surprise, Mr. Chairman. How could Iran's claim to have cooperated fully with the Agency have any credibility, when its answer to our call in March for it to "continue and intensify its cooperation" was to ban IAEA inspectors for a month? Even after letting the inspectors back into the country, Iran pursued its habitual delaying tactics, submitting much of the requested information only days before the Director General's report was due, too late for in-depth analysis. Access to some key nuclear-related facilities was also delayed until late in May, after the Agency was put through months of negotiations. Moreover, as the DG's report made clear, the inspectors once again found that assertions Iran made about its nuclear program -- in some cases, as recently as three months ago and circulated to Board members at Iran's insistence -- were false or incomplete. The list of unresolved issues is longer now than it was in March. No one could see in all this the behavior of a government trying to "come clean" to resolve doubts created by its two decades of clandestine nuclear development and its prior equivocations. In fact the opposite is true, as evidenced by Foreign Minister Kharrazi's remarks only days ago rejecting the well-founded concerns of the international community and calling into question Iran's commitments to cooperate with the IAEA.

This by now familiar tactic of threatening unspecified reductions in Iran's already only very partial cooperation with the Agency has now unfortunately been supplemented, Mr. Chairman, by new Iranian efforts to cast doubt on the reliability of the Agency's investigations and findings. While the readiness expressed by DDG Goldschmidt to make adjustments in the June 1 report to reflect new information provides eloquent confirmation of the Agency's commitment to being scrupulously fair to Iran, the objections Iran has raised are anything but compelling. Paragraph 22 of the DG's report referred explicitly to statements about the P-2 program made by "Iranian authorities," and as far as we are aware, all statements made by Iranian authorities were exactly as the Agency characterized them. In fact, the only problem seems to have been that official Iranian written statements in February and March did not include the same oral information from the owner of a small private workshop that Iran now criticizes the Agency for not having reported. As DDG Goldschmidt noted, Iran had every opportunity to propose its clarifications to the record ever since February, but came forward to do so only in mid-June. Even after it did so, the updated record is in no way inconsistent with the Director General's original assessment of June 1 (paragraph 47): "important information about the P-2 centrifuge programme has frequently required repeated requests, and in some cases continues to involve changing or contradictory information."

Mr. Chairman, while the United States supported and welcomes the resolution that the Board adopted today, none of us can mistake it for an answer to the problem we face. We need to be very clear about the situation the IAEA and the international community are in:

-- It was nearly two years ago that the public revelations were made that gave the Agency the initial leads it needed to begin peeling away the layers of concealment Iran had put in place over its clandestine nuclear program.

-- It has been sixteen months since the Director General made his February 2003 visit to Tehran in response to those initial revelations.

-- It was a year ago this week that the Board adopted a statement calling on Iran to cooperate fully with the Agency to resolve all outstanding issues raised by its past failure to report material, facilities and activities as required by its safeguards obligations.

-- Today's resolution follows others unanimously adopted in September, November, and March, each urging Iran to intensify and accelerate its cooperation. You will recall that our September resolution found it was "essential and urgent" that Iran take by the end of October 2003 a series of actions necessary to resolve all outstanding issues involving nuclear materials and activities. Since then, a number of new issues have arisen that are equally important and pressing.

-- It has been seven months since the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France and Germany went to Tehran. Despite the October agreement, Iran has neither cooperated in a way that would make possible the resolution of all outstanding issues nor fulfilled its suspension commitments.

-- The Agency's Safeguards Implementation Report for 2003, which we approved earlier this week, reminds us that Iran engaged in undeclared nuclear activities in breach of its obligation to comply with its safeguards agreement, as the DG reported to us and the Board deplored in November.

Mr. Chairman, it has been an important achievement that throughout this long process the unity of the Board has been maintained, and we have not let ourselves be split into contending factions. IAEA inspectors have also served the international community very well in their work over the past sixteen months in Iran -- thanks to them the world now has a far clearer picture of Iran's nuclear program.

I nonetheless appeal to other delegations and their governments to recognize that the passage of time is not a neutral factor in proliferation cases. On one level, that is evident from the Agency's experience last year in trying to clarify the history of nuclear-related activities at the Kalaye Electric Company, where Iran used delaying tactics as part of an attempt to erase facts before the Agency was allowed access to investigate them. It would be naive to assume that Iran's interruption of inspections for a month in March or its delay in allowing access to certain workshops involved in its enrichment program was not based on similar purposes of sanitization and concealment. To deal with some particularly incriminating facts, Iran's instruments of choice may be the wrecking ball and the bulldozer. Board members have no doubt all seen reports in the press in recent days about Iran having completely leveled facilities at a site called Lavizan Shiyan. This morning's press includes a quotation from a member of the Iranian delegation, who reportedly said, "The IAEA is free to come to see Lavizan Shiyan. There is nothing there."

There is, Mr. Chairman, an even deeper level of concern we should all share, for while Iran is erasing some facts, it may be creating others. The DG has repeatedly said, "the jury is still out" on whether Iran is developing its nuclear technology for peaceful or military purposes. If Iran has a still-clandestine military program -- and in my government's view, it is dangerous to believe otherwise -- every passing day could bring it closer to producing the enriched uranium needed for nuclear bombs. In such a scenario, all that Iran needs to do is to continue from Board to Board to Board with its policy of delay, denial and deception while it creates facts beyond the view of the inspectors. That approach, of course, carries a price -- denominated in the currency of critical Board resolutions and statements of deep concern like the one included in the G-8 Action plan on Nonproliferation issued last week -- but it may be a price Iran calculates it can afford to pay.

Mr. Chairman, when the Director General says the "jury is still out," we in the Board are the jury of which he speaks. Since none of the statements, resolutions, appeals and offers thus far made by the Board or the Secretariat or the EU-3 have yet moved Iran to proactive cooperation, full openness, or even honesty in what it tells the Agency, what can we do to bring the Iran issue finally to an outcome consistent with our Statutory responsibilities and the needs of the NPT regime? If that regime is to function, the clearer picture of Iran's nuclear program that Agency inspectors have provided us must be a spur to effective action. Simply hoping for the best is not a viable nonproliferation strategy. None of us will want in the future to have to look back on opportunities we could have used to make the world a safer place, had we acted in time.

I ask all Board members to give serious thought before our next meeting about the urgent steps required to make our actions more effective in actually bringing the Iran issue to a successful conclusion. We may want to consider whether it would be helpful at some early point for the Director General to offer not only a periodic update of developments in the inspection process, but a cumulative assessment that puts together in summary form the principal findings of the Agency's work on Iran since the August 2002 revelations. The U.S. continues to believe that Iran's documented non-compliance should be reported to the UN Security Council and that its nuclear program presents a threat to international peace and security.

Mr. Chairman, since this is the last time I will be addressing the Board under a verification agenda item, I want to conclude by reiterating my deep appreciation to the Secretariat for the expertise, high professionalism and impartiality of its work not only in Iran, but on all the other issues we have considered over the past three years. Nuclear proliferation is a clear and present danger we all need to address actively both on a national basis and through all multilateral channels that can be effective in dealing with it. Unquestionably the IAEA must continue to play a central and indispensable role in those efforts, and I salute all those who are investing so much of their time and energy and expertise in this work for our common security.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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