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IAEA Director General Calls on Iran to Cooperate Immediately and Fully

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IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi delivers his opening remarks to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting on 9 March 2020. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi called on Iran on Monday to cooperate immediately and fully with the IAEA and provide prompt access to locations which it has refused to let Agency inspectors visit.

“The Agency has identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations that have not been declared by Iran,” Mr Grossi said in his first address to the Agency’s Board of Governors as Director General.

“The Agency sought access to two of the locations. Iran has not provided access to these locations and has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify the Agency’s questions. This is adversely affecting the Agency’s ability to clarify and resolve these questions and to provide credible assurance of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. I call on Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with the Agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the Agency.”

Mr Grossi, who took up office in December, presented two Iran-related reports to the Board. One concerned Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between world powers and Iran in 2015. The other describes the Agency’s efforts to clarify information relating to the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol with the IAEA.

Referring to JCPOA implementation, Mr Grossi noted Iran’s announcement on January 5th that its  nuclear programme would no longer be “subject to any restrictions in the operational sphere.”

“To date, the Agency has not observed any changes to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA in connection with this announcement, or in the level of cooperation by Iran in relation to Agency verification and monitoring activities under the JCPOA,” he said.

“The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue,” Mr Grossi added.

The IAEA continues to monitor the nuclear programme of North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, using open source information and satellite imagery. IAEA inspectors were required to leave the country in 2009.

“We are investing considerable effort in ensuring that we are ready to resume verification of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned,” Mr Grossi said. “If and when such an agreement is achieved, we will be ready to deploy our inspectors from day one. The Agency will have an indispensable role to play.”

Coronavirus

The Director General began his statement by outlining measures the Agency was taking to help countries address the coronavirus COVID-19.

“The IAEA is not a specialized health Agency and has no role in controlling the disease,” he said. “But we do have expertise and experience that help in detecting outbreaks of certain viral diseases and in diagnosing them.”

Scientists from countries concerned will be offered training in a nuclear-derived technique known as RT-PCR, which makes it possible to identify the virus accurately within hours, as well as RT-PCR machines and biosafety equipment to ensure safe handling of samples.

Support for international efforts to control the disease will remain a priority as long as the outbreak persists, Mr Grossi added.

Mr Grossi updated the Board on progress in the modernization of the IAEA nuclear applications in Seibersdorf, near Vienna. He announced plans to construct a new building to house four laboratories that have still to be renovated. The modernization project will improve the IAEA’s capacity to support Member States in the use of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture, human health and the environment, as well as the use of new nuclear scientific instruments.

Mr Grossi also announced a new initiative to encourage more women to study nuclear science and technology. The IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme will provide scholarships and internships to successful candidates. 

Nuclear energy

Noting that his first foreign trip as Director General had been to the COP 25 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, Mr Grossi said he sensed that “the Agency is now being listened to on the benefits of nuclear technology in a way that was not the case in the past. I intend to ensure that our voice is heard.” He announced that the IAEA’s annual Scientific Forum in September will focus this year on the ways in which nuclear energy can contribute to meeting climate change goals.

“Whether or not to use nuclear power is a sovereign decision for each individual country. But it is an indisputable scientific fact that nuclear power has an important role to play in curbing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

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