E3 Statement on Agenda Item (5)
Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran
in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)
Board of Governors
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Vienna, June 2023
Delivered by Ambassador Dr Götz Schmidt-Bremme, Germany
On behalf of France, the United Kingdom and Germany, I thank Director General Grossi for his latest report GOV/2023/24, and Deputy Director General Aparo for his technical briefing.
The E3 express their gratitude to the Agency for its objective reporting on Iran’s nuclear programme and encourage the Director General to keep the Board informed of all activities, and developments requiring clarification by Iran. We would like to express our appreciation for the Agency’s professional and impartial work, and in particular, inspections of Iran’s facilities.
We see no substantial change in Iran’s behaviour. Over the reporting period, Iran has unabatedly continued escalating its nuclear programme beyond civilian justification, and has displayed little will to implement the transparency commitments laid out in the Joint Statement agreed last March.
First, on the state of the nuclear programme, the Director General’s report shows Iran continues down its path of significant nuclear escalation:
- Iran has further expanded its stockpile of 5%, 20% and 60% enriched uranium. Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile is now more than 21 times the JCPoA limit. Iran’s stockpile of 60% enriched uranium has increased by almost one third, to 114.1 kg in the form of UF6, and is now almost three IAEA significant quantities. This is almost three times the amount of nuclear material from which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded. All of us on this Board must see this as a major expansion of Iran’s nuclear programme, raising serious questions about the intent of its activities.
- Iran has continued to install additional advanced centrifuge cascades, permanently improving its enrichment capabilities and hollowing out the value of the JCPoA.
- Considering the seriousness of activities considered to be key steps for the development of a nuclear weapon, we also recall the significant work on uranium metal previously reported, and associated critical irreversible knowledge gains. We continue to urge Iran not to commence any further work related to the production of uranium metal, which also reduces the non-proliferation value of the JCPoA.
The detection last January of uranium particles enriched to 83.7% U-235 highlights the seriousness of Iran’s continuing escalation. This enrichment was grossly inconsistent with the level declared by Iran and constituted an unprecedented and extremely grave development, for which there is no credible civilian justification. While the Director General reports that the information provided was ‘not inconsistent’ with Iran’s explanations, the significance of the detection of undeclared changes made to the cascade configuration at Fordow should be fully understood:
- First, this step, along with Iran’s wider nuclear programme, brought Iran dangerously close to actual weapons-related activities.
- Second, Iran is still using a configuration which can enable the production of high enriched material at levels considerably over 60%, showing Iran’s disregard for the gravity of this development.
The circumstances of its discovery through an unannounced inspection, as well as the large-scale accumulation of highly enriched uranium, continue to ring alarm bells. These actions show Iran has built capabilities suitable for enrichment for nuclear weapons purposes. It is the responsibility of the international community, and particularly of this Board, to call upon Iran not to engage in enrichment activities that raise serious questions about its intent, particularly given Iran’s historical track-record.
Such overall escalation comes at a point when the Agency has been without access to data on centrifuge and component manufacturing for more than two years. As reiterated in the report, Iran’s decision to stop cooperating with the monitoring and verification activities agreed in the JCPoA means the Agency would no longer be able to re-establish continuity of knowledge even in the event of a full JCPoA resumption. Iran’s decision to remove Agency surveillance and monitoring equipment has had detrimental implications for the Agency’s ability to
provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. We urge Iran to re-install all equipment in all the locations deemed necessary by the IAEA, and to provide all the footage from the cameras, including data recorded from February 2021 to June 2022. This should be done without delay.
We also recall that, under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, Iran is legally obliged to implement Modified Code 3.1. and cannot change its application or withdraw from it unilaterally.
Regarding the Joint Statement agreed between the AEOI and the IAEA last March we regret that implementation remains very limited and below expectations at this point. While we note that the Agency speaks of “some progress”, it also clearly states that “the process needs to be sustained and uninterrupted in order that all of the commitments contained therein are fulfilled without further delay”. It is of utmost importance that Iran immediately implements the Joint Statement entirely.
The full range of findings outlined by the Director General’s report are alarming: Iran is, undoubtedly and unabatedly, on a path of significant nuclear escalation. Its activities are a clear threat to regional and global security.
We deeply regret that Iran did not accept the fair and balanced deal that the JCPoA Coordinator tabled almost a year ago, and instead chose to accelerate its programme. Iran bears full responsibility for this situation. We urge Iran to immediately stop and reverse its nuclear escalation, and allow for complete transparency with the IAEA by re-applying the Additional Protocol.
We will continue consultations, alongside international partners, on how best to address Iran’s unabated and dangerous nuclear escalation. We call upon Iran to de-escalate the situation and we expect swift and concrete further steps to implement its Joint Statement commitments on IAEA verification and monitoring. We remain committed to taking every diplomatic step to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We ask the Director General to keep the Board of Governors informed ahead of the September Board, and provide earlier updates as necessary, and would ask for this report to be made public.
Thank you Chair.