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IAEA Director General Urges Iran to Resolve Issues Related to Four Undeclared Locations


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi delivers his remarks at the opening of the 1579th Board of Governors meeting today at the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Technical discussions between the IAEA and Iran have not yielded the expected results, and 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 IAEA to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today in his opening statement to the quarterly session of the IAEA Board of Governors.

“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,” he stated.

In his statement to the Board, a range of topics were covered, including the organization’s wider nuclear verification work, its continued assistance to Member States battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Agency’s work related to nuclear energy.

Nuclear verification

Since February, 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 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the Additional Protocol, which gives broader access to IAEA inspectors throughout a country. “The presence of multiple uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at three locations in Iran not declared to the Agency, 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,” Mr Grossi stated. “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.”

Mr Grossi also called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), also called North Korea, to comply with its obligations under Security Council resolutions and to cooperate with the IAEA. Since the Board meeting in March, Mr Grossi 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 and continue to monitor the country’s nuclear programme using open source information, including satellite imagery.

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. Mr Grossi reminded the Board that “inspections cannot be stopped and that public health measures are not incompatible with this indispensable activity.”

IAEA impact

The 2020 Technical Cooperation Report was presented to the Board. In 2020, the IAEA supported 146 countries and territories, of which 35 were least developed countries, through the Technical Cooperation Programme. Though pandemic restrictions hampered travel in 2020, “we were able to support 527 fellowships and scientific visits, and more than 1,200 expert and lecturer assignments using both in person and virtual formats,” Mr Grossi stated.

Mr Grossi took stock of the Agency’s 2020 response to COVID-19, highlighting that 285 national laboratories in 127 countries and territories had received IAEA support, and 1950 RT-PCR packages were ordered. “Member States provided generous extrabudgetary assistance to the value of €26.3 million,” he noted. “The Agency continues its assistance, and I invite donors to lend their generous hand to us.”

In light of the pandemic, the IAEA launched ZODIAC, a major initiative to prevent future outbreaks of diseases that spread from animals to humans. Mr Grossi stated that 139 Member States on all continents had nominated a national coordinator, and “we are in the process of assessing the needs and the requirements of the ZODIAC national laboratories in about 100 countries.”

Addressing the pressing problem of plastic pollution, Mr Grossi said that the IAEA’s NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics) would assist countries in integrating nuclear and isotopic techniques to address plastic pollution. “Nuclear technology has potential to contribute, particularly by using radiation technology to improve current recycling processes, and by using isotopic tracing techniques to monitor plastics in marine environments,” Mr Grossi stated.

Nuclear energy

In November, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, Mr Grossi will join world leaders to address decarbonisation targets and climate change mitigation. “Without the substantial contribution of nuclear power to the global energy mix, we will not achieve our climate goals. Therefore, nuclear must have a seat at the table when the world’s future energy and climate policies are being discussed,” he stated.

Mr Grossi noted that the IAEA’s Fifth International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, hosted by the United States, has been moved to 26 to 28 October 2022, due to COVID-19 considerations.

Mr Grossi expressed his gratitude to Austria, which hosts the IAEA’s headquarters, for allowing IAEA personnel to access the national vaccination programme together with the country’s wider international community. He said the Agency is gradually welcoming the regular return of staff to the Vienna International Centre and to the Seibersdorf Laboratories. He also welcomed Samoa as a new Member State of the IAEA, bringing the organization’s membership to 173 countries.

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