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Developments with Iran are Constructive, Director General Tells IAEA Board of Governors


Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General, delivers his remarks at the IAEA 1591st Board of Governors meeting held at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

A positive and constructive meeting took place this weekend in Tehran with the aim to strengthen the IAEA’s indispensable nuclear verification work in Iran, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the IAEA Board of Governors this morning. Opening the regular, quarterly session of the 35-member Board, Mr Grossi outlined the recent safeguards developments in Iran and in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and spoke about numerous IAEA peaceful nuclear applications and programmes.

Mr Grossi updated the Board on his meeting yesterday with Vice-President and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami. They agreed that IAEA inspectors will now be able to service the Agency’s monitoring and surveillance equipment in Iran and replace their storage media, Mr Grossi said. This storage media will be kept in Iran under seals of both the IAEA and the AEOI. Read more in this Joint Statement.

They also agreed to a meeting between Mr Eslami and Mr Grossi on the sidelines of next week’s IAEA General Conference, and a near future visit by Mr Grossi to Tehran to hold  high-level consultations with Iranian officials to enhance cooperation between Iran and the IAEA in different fields, and to discuss current issues of mutual interest.

Up until 23 February 2021, the IAEA had verified and monitored Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), sometimes referred to as the ‘Iran nuclear deal’. Since February, however, monitoring activities have been undermined by Iran’s decision to stop implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.

Mr Grossi noted that the IAEA’s ability to maintain ‘continuity of knowledge’ — an unbroken record of monitoring activities — in Iran had declined over time and said that during his trip the Iranian government and the IAEA agreed that the inspectors will in a few days again have the necessary access to all monitoring equipment and that the equipment at one facility will be replaced.

Indicating that nuclear material had been present at undeclared locations in Iran and explaining that the current location of this nuclear material remains unknown to the IAEA, Mr Grossi called on Iran’s Government to clarify the IAEA’s questions and resolve outstanding  issues without further delay.

“I remain deeply concerned that nuclear material has been present at undeclared locations in Iran and that the current locations of this nuclear material are not known to the Agency,” Mr Grossi told the Board. “And I am increasingly concerned that, even after some two years, the safeguards issues outlined above in relation to the four locations in Iran not declared to the Agency, remain unresolved.”

Mr Grossi also asked Iran to fulfil its legal obligations under the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement. He said he hoped that “through a direct, cooperative and productive dialogue with the new Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran these urgent matters can be addressed.”

Growing activity in North Korea

Mr Grossi reiterated previous calls for the DPRK, also known as North Korea, to comply with its obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and to cooperate with the IAEA in the full and effective implementation of its NPT safeguards Agreement. Mr Grossi described the country’s nuclear activities “to be a cause for serious concern,” saying that new indications of the operation of a 5-megawatt (MW) reactor and the Radiochemical Laboratory were “deeply troubling.”

Mr Grossi stated that there were indications of the operation of the Radiochemical Laboratory from mid-February to early July 2021 and that since early July 2021, there have been indications that the 5MW(e) reactor was operating. Mr Grossi also told the Board that there are indications of ongoing activities, including internal construction at the Light Water Reactor under construction.

The DPRK ceased cooperation with the IAEA in 2009. Mr Grossi pledged to the Board the IAEA’s continued readiness to play its essential role in verifying the country’s nuclear programme.

COVID-19 and the fight against zoonotic diseases

Beyond nuclear verification, Mr Grossi updated the Board on the IAEA’s efforts in supporting countries in the fight against COVID-19 and future zoonotic disease outbreaks. “We are now not only delivering emergency aid to those who request it, but are also sourcing the science and technology required to end the cycle of devastation caused by these frequently occurring viral outbreaks,” he said.

The IAEA’s global COVID-19 emergency response has to date supported 296 laboratories in 128 countries, and Mr Grossi encouraged Member States to make further contributions towards sustaining this assistance.

He updated the Board on progress in the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action initiative, or ZODIAC, which was now in its procurement stage. “So far, we are addressing the needs of 25 designated National Laboratories in Africa; the Americas; Asia and the Pacific; and Europe through the acquisition of serology, molecular diagnostic or genomic sequencing packages,” Mr Grossi said.

Under ZODIAC, 50 meetings with country representatives and partner organizations have taken place to support ongoing global initiatives dedicated to enhancing global preparedness to control zoonotic diseases. To date, 143 countries have nominated a national coordinator and 114 countries have nominated a ZODIAC National Laboratory. Combatting zoonotic diseases will be the main theme of next week’s Scientific Forum, Preparing for Zoonotic Outbreaks: the Role of Nuclear Science.

Mr Grossi also updated the Board on developments in the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme, nuclear safety monitoring activities, the modernisation of IAEA laboratories near Vienna, and the Agency’s plans for the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

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