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IAEA restricted in assessing Iran's nuclear programme

(WNN) | Updated: 2021-06-08
2021-06-08 (WNN)

The lack of progress in clarifying the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran's safeguards declarations seriously affects the ability of the IAEA to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of the country's nuclear programme, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today in his opening statement to the quarterly session of the IAEA Board of Governors.


Grossi addressing the IAEA Board of Governors today Image: D Calma/IAEA)

Grossi noted that up to 23 February this year the IAEA had verified and monitored the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). However, since then its verification and monitoring activities have been affected as a result of Iran's decision to stop the implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the nuclear deal, including the Additional Protocol.

Speaking about Iran's response to the IAEA's request for information about four undeclared locations, he said: "Iran has provided no new information in relation to one location; has not answered any of the Agency's questions, nor provided any information in relation to two other locations; and provided a written statement on a fourth location without any substantiating documentation."

Multiple particles

The presence of multiple uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at three locations in Iran not declared to the IAEA, as well as the presence of isotopically altered particles at one of these locations, is a clear indication that nuclear material and/or equipment contaminated by nuclear material has been present at these locations, Grossi noted.

"After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the Agency has conducted complementary accesses. In the absence of such an explanation from Iran, I am deeply concerned that nuclear material has been present at the three undeclared locations in Iran and that the current locations of this nuclear material are not known by the Agency. Nor has Iran answered the questions with regard to the other undeclared location, or clarified the current location of natural uranium in the form of a metal disc.

Grossi said he is concerned that the technical discussions between the IAEA and Iran "have not yielded the expected results and of the consequent lack of progress in clarifying these safeguards issues".

"I reiterate the requirement for Iran to clarify and resolve these issues without further delay by providing information, documentation and answers to the Agency's questions," he told the board. "The lack of progress in clarifying the Agency's questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran's safeguards declarations seriously affects the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme."

In late May, Iran and the IAEA agreed to extend their 'temporary technical understanding' by one month, until 24 June.

North Korea concerns

Grossi also called for North Korea to comply with its obligations under Security Council resolutions and to cooperate with the IAEA. Since the board meeting in March, he noted that the duration of the continuous operation of a steam plant serving a radiochemical laboratory is consistent with the time required for a reprocessing campaign. The IAEA's inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009 but continue to monitor the country's nuclear programme using open source information, including satellite imagery.

North Korea's nuclear activities "remain a cause for serious concern", Grossi said. "The continuation of the DPRK's nuclear programme is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable."

Despite travel restrictions due to COVID-19, the IAEA performed all of its most critical verification work in 2020, and the number of in-field verification activities conducted was comparable to previous years. Grossi reminded the board that "inspections cannot be stopped and that public health measures are not incompatible with this indispensable activity".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News