U.S. Calls on Iran to Address Past Nuclear Weapons Research

March 6, 2019

On March 5, Ambassador Jackie Wolcott, the U.S. representative to the U.N. office in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other organizations, called for a full accounting of Iran’s past nuclear activities. “As we move forward, Iran must end its longstanding efforts to deny and conceal the reality of past nuclear weapons work. Our interest in resolving these issues is not to score political points, but to address critical verification issues with direct relevance to how we move forward,” she said at the IAEA Board of Governors Meeting. Wolcott reiterated the Trump administration’s offer of “full normalization of relationships with the international community” in return for a dramatic change in Iran’s behavior. The following are her remarks. 

IAEA Board Room

Ambassador Jackie Wolcott 

Vienna, March 5, 2019

Thank you, Madam Chair,

The United States welcomes the Director General’s February 22 report on verification and monitoring in Iran. We once again extend our appreciation to the Director General, the Deputy Director General for Safeguards, and their staff for their continued dedication in carrying out their responsibilities in Iran. The Secretariat can continue to count on the full support of the United States as it implements the Agency’s important mandate in Iran. The Director General’s thorough reporting on Iran’s nuclear activities remains essential for the Board to continue accurately assessing Iran’s implementation of its safeguards obligations and nuclear commitments. We have every confidence that the IAEA will continue to carry out its responsibilities in Iran with the highest degree of professionalism and diligence.
Madam Chair,

The United States has made clear why we ended U.S. participation in the JCPOA last year. We have thoroughly articulated those reasons, including here in the Board, and those concerns remain equally valid today. As we look forward from here to the future, we have also made clear our hope and desire that our posture toward the JCPOA has focused minds in Tehran on the clear choices ahead, and the need for Iran to end its destabilizing conduct and return to the negotiating table. President Trump has made clear that we look forward to concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran that addresses the totality of our concerns, and fully reintegrates Iran politically and economically into the international community.

In pursuing a comprehensive agreement, we are offering Iran the possibility of full normalization of relationships with the international community: an end to not just some but all U.S. sanctions, full diplomatic and commercial relationships, assistance acquiring appropriate advanced technology, and support in modernizing and reintegrating the Iranian economy into the international economic system. To achieve that goal though, Iran must be willing to change its behavior, and to take lasting steps that demonstrate that its nuclear program will forever remain exclusively peaceful. Absent assurances of effective verification, there is no chance for diplomacy to succeed, so it is up to all of us – at the IAEA, in Iran, and in the rest of the international community – to preserve the integrity and effectiveness of IAEA monitoring.

It is for this reason, as we look toward a new and comprehensive agreement, that Iran must honestly address why it retained an immense archive of files from its past nuclear weapons activities. Iran carefully maintained these files for years, despite the assurances it made under the JCPOA that it would never pursue a nuclear weapon. The troubling question remains of why Iran sought to preserve this information and expertise. Iran’s retention of the archive not only underscores the key weakness of the temporary restrictions in the JCPOA, but strikes at the heart of longstanding concerns that Iran continues to keep its nuclear options open. As we move forward, Iran must end its longstanding efforts to deny and conceal the reality of past nuclear weapons work. Our interest in resolving these issues is not to score political points, but to address critical verification issues with direct relevance to how we move forward. The facts of Iran’s past nuclear weapons activities continue to have bearing on current questions about the possibility of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. These issues must be addressed in a clear and straightforward manner, without further delay.

It is in this context, and according to standard safeguards practices, that we support the IAEA’s continued, careful assessment of the nuclear archive materials, which may have relevance to the IAEA’s activities under Iran’s safeguards agreements or related to UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We have the highest confidence that the Agency will independently and professionally review these materials, in combination with all other available information, to appropriately inform its monitoring and verification activities in Iran. Consistent with its mandate, the IAEA must continue to review and act upon any information it determines to be credible and safeguards-relevant, including information that raises a safeguards-relevant question or inconsistency. It is only through such action, and Iran’s cooperation with any such requests, that international confidence can be established and maintained in support of a diplomatic resolution to the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

Madam Chair,

Nothing short of full Iranian cooperation will allow the IAEA to assure the international community that Iran is upholding its obligations and commitments. It is incumbent on all of us to make clear that Iran has no option but to provide timely and proactive cooperation with all IAEA requests in the exercise of the Agency’s mandate and professional judgment. Full cooperation with the IAEA must be the norm, and Iran should not need a quarterly reminder of its importance.

We welcome the Director General’s statement that the IAEA continues to evaluate Iran’s declarations under the Additional Protocol, and confirmation that it has conducted complementary access inspections under the Additional Protocol to all sites and locations in Iran that its inspectors needed to visit. As is standard for all countries with an Additional Protocol in force, the IAEA has the authority to request access to any location in Iran – civil or military – to verify Iran’s declarations under its Additional Protocol and Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement when a question or inconsistency has arisen. The IAEA has a fundamental responsibility to pursue any new concern about undeclared nuclear material or safeguards-relevant activities in all states under IAEA safeguards, and we have full confidence in the Agency and its highly skilled and professional inspectors to do so appropriately.

Madam Chair,

We have long underscored the importance of sustained efforts by the IAEA to fulfill its crucial monitoring role in Iran, and the need for the necessary resources to carry out these important tasks. The United States welcomes the numerous pledges of financial support for the IAEA’s verification and monitoring efforts in Iran, as well as the integration of appropriate verification costs into the regular budget. We must all continue to ensure that the IAEA’s vital responsibilities in Iran never detract from the Agency’s other essential tasks globally in safeguards, security, safety, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. For this reason, we are pleased to announce today a new, $1 million U.S. pledge toward the IAEA’s critical verification and monitoring activities in Iran. This new extrabudgetary contribution continues our longstanding support for the Agency’s important safeguards responsibilities, and underscores our continued commitment to ensuring the IAEA has all the resources necessary to carry out its important responsibilities in Iran.

Madam Chair

Although it is not the topic of our discussion at this meeting, I would briefly like to respond to claims that have been made that the reimposition of U.S. sanctions somehow violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and the UN Charter. This is simply not the case. The United States has ceased its participation in the JCPOA. We are out of the deal, not in violation of it. There is no legal requirement in UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that would require continued U.S. participation or support of the JCPOA, which is a non-binding political arrangement among its participants. To assert otherwise is simply not true. Similarly, the cessation of U.S. participation in the JCPOA does not violate the UN Charter, as I said.

With these comments, the United States welcomes the Director General’s report contained in document GOV/2019/10, and requests that the report be made public.

Thank you, Madam Chair.