EU Statement at IAEA Board of Governors on the verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) (6-10 March 2023)
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The following countries align themselves with this statement: North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Albania*, Ukraine*, the Republic of Moldova*, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Iceland+, Liechtenstein+, Norway+ and San Marino.
The European Union would like to thank the Director General for his report contained in document GOV/2023/8, and Deputy Director General Aparo for the technical briefing on 1 March 2023.
As a key security priority, the EU will continue to invest diplomatically and politically to restore the implementation of the necessary restrictions to the Iranian nuclear programme in order to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. The risk of a nuclear non-proliferation crisis in the region has further increased as a result of Iran’s escalating nuclear trajectory. The EU remains committed to the JCPOA. We regret that, despite political support by the EU member States and intense international diplomatic efforts to restore the full implementation of the JCPOA including negotiations in Vienna facilitated by the EU High Representative as Coordinator of the JCPOA Joint Commission, whose good offices the EU fully supports, Iran has not made the necessary decisions and not taken the necessary steps. On the contrary, it continues to significantly escalate its nuclear programme. The EU calls on all countries to support the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015).
We regret that Iran has not accepted the compromise text submitted by the Coordinator of the JCPOA Joint Commission on 8 August and that, since then, new developments have added significant layers of complications that make it increasingly difficult to reach a diplomatic solution. We wish to underscore that the JCPOA is separate from Iran’s legally binding obligations under the NPT, which are essential to the global non-proliferation regime.
The EU is deeply concerned by the successive IAEA reports documenting the alarming accelerating escalation of Iran’s nuclear programme that gravely departs from its JCPOA commitments, in particular with regard to the expansion of its nuclear enrichment capacity and production of highly enriched uranium. Iran’s actions, which have no credible civilian justification in Iran’s declared nuclear programme, carry very significant proliferation-related risks. These actions, which raise grave concerns about Iran’s intentions, include:
- continued and accelerated accumulation of enriched uranium, far beyond JCPOA thresholds for quantity and level of enrichment, including a sharp rise of material at 20%, as well as at 60% which is of particular proliferation concern. The stockpile of HEU enriched at up to 60 per cent has increased by more than 40% since the last quarterly report.
- continued expansion of uranium enrichment operations and capacity, through the installation of additional centrifuges at a worryingly rapid pace. More than half of Iran’s advanced centrifuges have been installed only since the beginning of 2022 at the underground Natanz site.
- the start of HEU production at FFEP in November 2022 has more than doubled Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium at 60 per cent.
We are extremely concerned by the presence of HEU particles containing up to 83.7% U-235 at the Fordow facility. Enrichment in Iran to this level is an unprecedented and extremely grave development. We call upon Iran to cooperate fully and without delay with the Agency to clarify its activities regarding enrichment of uranium over 80%. We expect nothing less than full transparency on the origin of such particles, as requested by the Agency.
The EU further notes with concern Iran’s failure to provide the required pre-notification to the Agency of changes in the configuration and operation of its nuclear facilities, inconsistent with its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement. It is all the more indispensable that the IAEA is able to detect and report in a timely manner any move from Iran to escalate its nuclear activities.
We recall our grave concern with the significant work on uranium metal previously reported, including with nuclear material enriched up to 20%, and associated irreversible knowledge gains. We reiterate our call on Iran not to commence any further work related to the conversion of UF6 to UF4 for the production of uranium metal and not to resume any activity related to the production of uranium metal.
We note with concern a discrepancy between the amount of natural uranium declared by Iran in the form of solid waste and items of uranium metal from JHL and the amount verified by the Agency. We note that Iran agreed to work with the Agency to address it and expect Iran to clarify this matter without any further delay.
We remain deeply concerned that, from 23 February 2021 onwards, the Agency’s verification and monitoring in relation to the JCPOA have been seriously affected as a result of Iran’s decision to stop the implementation of JCPOA transparency measures, including the Additional Protocol. For two years, the Agency has been deprived of an essential part of its knowledge of Iran’s activities on the entirety of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle. Iran’s unilateral decision in June 2022 that all Agency’s JCPOA-related surveillance and monitoring equipment be removed from operation has further aggravated existing concerns. As a consequence, the Agency cannot perform verification activities related to the production and inventory of centrifuges and associated infrastructure, rotors and bellows, heavy water and uranium ore concentrate. We note with concern that this would prevent the Agency from re-establishing continuity of knowledge, in the event of a full resumption of implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. We also note with concern that the longer the current situation persists, the greater the uncertainty will be in establishing any future baseline. This has detrimental implications for the Agency’s ability to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. In this regard, we note the outcome of the Director General’s visit to Tehran on 3-4 March.
We strongly urge Iran to reverse its alarming nuclear trajectory, to return to its political commitments in the field of nuclear non-proliferation without further delay, and to resume implementation of all JCPOA-related monitoring and verification measures, as well as its Additional Protocol. This, together with full implementation of the legally binding CSA, including modified Code 3.1, is essential to help building international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.
Timely and full cooperation with the IAEA remains absolutely crucial. The EU expresses its strong support to and commends the Director General, the Secretariat, and in particular the IAEA inspectors, for their professional, objective and impartial work. The EU wholly supports the IAEA's efforts to continue implementing its long-term mission of continued verification and monitoring in Iran. We welcome Member States’ extra budgetary support to IAEA’s mission in Iran.
The EU takes note of the Director General's report and requests that it be made public.
Thank you, Chair.
* Candidate Countries North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, as well as potential Candidate Country Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are members of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.