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NPT Safeguards Agreement with Iran Statement by the Governor of the Russian Federation, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail I. Ulyanov under item 6.e of the agenda for the IAEA Baord of Governors session 11 March 2020
Dear Madam Chairperson,
This discussion leaves a feeling of deja vu. In fact, we already saw something similar in November, when the Secretariat had claims to Iran regarding cooperation in clarifying an issue on the origin of anthropogenic uranium particles found on a site in Iran. Both then and now, the events of the distant past were the cause of disagreement between Iran and the Secretariat. The only difference is that in November, the Secretariat decided to limit itself to an oral report, while now it has preferred one in writing. In addition, substantive cooperation is already underway between Iran and the Secretariat on the November episode, while they still have to build a more constructive interaction on the subject of the last report.
It should be noted that recently the work of the Secretariat and the Board of Governors has been tilted towards overheating the history of the Iranian nuclear program. In fact, in just 4 months we are considering for the second time issues that the Secretariat has had in connection with the events of past days, which are unlikely to have any projection on today's activities. We, of course, do not dispute the right of the Secretariat to clarify unclear points, especially if this is done in the interests of achieving a speedy “broader conclusion” about the absence of undeclared nuclear material in Iran. However, we would like to remind
that on 15 December 2015, the Board decided to close the issue of Iran’s past nuclear activities. We all have to remember this.
For a correct assessment of the situation that we are discussing, it is important to understand where exactly the starting point for the contradictions is lying. The report is silent, but during the technical briefing on March 5, the Secretariat provided the necessary clarifications. The bottom line is that the Secretariat had suspicions that the Iranian side was carrying out undeclared nuclear activities about 20 years ago. As we understand it, these activities didn’t last long and were curtailed at the initiative of Tehran itself. A minor amount of unenriched uranium was allegedly used in this activity. Thus there is not the slightest proliferation risk here, just as there is no particular urgency.
The problem, therefore, is not in the scope,
but rather in the procedural disagreements between the Secretariat and Tehran regarding the exercise of the rights and obligations under the Safeguards Agreement and its Additional Protocol. Actually, in the report of the Director General there are no guilty verdicts and no categorical statements about
the discovery of undeclared nuclear material or activities in Iran. This is an invitation to dialogue and constructive interaction. In this regard, we would like to note the statement of the Permanent Representative of Iran during the mentioned technical briefing on March 5 that the Iranian side does not question the Agency’s right to seek clarification, including access. At the same time, we note with full understanding the comments of the Iranian side, which indicates
the need to ensure that the information on the basis of which requests are made is objective and grounded. In principle, this is in line with the requirements of the Additional Protocol.
Indeed, the IAEA's requests for access in each case must be well grounded. When the Secretariat considers it necessary to inform the Board about the insufficient, as it may see it, level of interaction on the part of the Member States, it should be ready to defend its position with specific facts that reveal the essence of its claims and the validity of the requests. The Agency should be able to defend its position in an open discussion, based on the information that the IAEA received on its own from truly independent sources. If the information on which the Secretariat relies is obtained from third parties, its authenticity must be confirmed. In the absence of all of this, reports of the Secretariat and its actions could be seriously discredited in the eyes of Member-States. We have repeatedly drawn attention to this during the discussions on the reform of the safeguards system.
We welcome the assurances of the Iranian Permanent Representative of his readiness to continue cooperation with the Secretariat and the invitation to the IAEA Deputy Director General to discuss these issues in Tehran.
Thus, there is every opportunity for the Agency to work calmly with Iran in the interests of finding mutually acceptable solutions to the current problems based on standard procedures. We urge the Agency’s Secretariat and Iran to continue consultations in this regard. We should recall, by the way, that in case of difficulties in providing access the Additional Protocol allows alternative solutions. There should be no artificial rush, nor should there be any additional intervention by the Board. It is also necessary to avoid politicizing this issue - after all, some forces strive to use every opportunity just to create an additional front against Iran. The Board should not allow the IAEA safeguards to be used as an instrument of political pressure. We are convinced that in the future the Director General will be able to limit himself to an oral report to the Board about the development of the situation.
Given that the issue is related to the confidential area of IAEA safeguards, we oppose the publication of this report.
In this regard, we are also compelled to express our most serious concern that the IAEA reports on Iran, especially
on confidential issues of safeguards application, become public at the same time as they appear on the Boards secure website. As a result, they turn into a subject of animated discussions and speculations in the media. Such leaks are inadmissible. The Secretariat and Member States are required to prevent unrestricted access to sensitive information. Otherwise, the practice of making documents public, as well as the entire system of restricted information exchange that exists in the Agency, loses its meaning. The need for effective measures to prevent such leaks is long overdue. We would be grateful to the Secretariat for providing specific ideas on what could be done.
Thank you, Madam Chair.