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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


02 March 2005

Iran Deceives International Nuclear Inspectors, U.S. Says

United States issues formal statement to IAEA board of governors

The United States has accused Iran of concealing its nuclear activities from international inspectors trying to determine whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has compiled a "startling list of Iranian attempts to hide and mislead, and delay the work of IAEA inspectors.  It is clear that Iran has continued to deny inspectors the transparency and cooperation they need to perform their duties," said Ambassador Jackie Wolcott Sanders in a statement to the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna March 2.

Sanders is the U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and the special representative of the president for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

Despite a pledge to suspend production of uranium tetrafluoride, a key ingredient in the enrichment process, Iran continued its production at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Esfahan, Iran, Sanders said.

Citing information released by IAEA Deputy Director-General Pierre Goldschmidt, Sanders enumerated what the United States considers to be Iran's infractions of its nonproliferation commitments.  For example, she said Iran continued to conduct quality-control tests on a variety of centrifuge components despite an agreement to suspend assembly, installation, testing or operation of gas centrifuges.

"Given Iran's history of clandestine nuclear activities and its documented efforts to deceive the IAEA and the international community, only the full cessation and dismantling of Iran's nuclear fissile material production can begin to give us any confidence that Iran is no longer pursuing nuclear weapons," Sanders said.

Sanders said the board of governors cannot ignore forever its responsibility to report Iran's noncompliance with its nonproliferation commitments to the U.N. Security Council.

The United States "would expect the Board to convene immediately to consider appropriate action if there is any further deterioration of Iran's adherence to its suspension pledge," Sanders said.

On March 1, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the United States is in full agreement with Britain, France and Germany on the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The three European countries have launched an initiative known as EU-3 to begin negotiations with Iran aimed at achieving a permanent resolution of the Iranian nuclear challenge.

"We support the efforts of our European friends to get Iran to abandon its ambitions for a nuclear weapon," McClellan said.  "[W]e've been talking with them about the best way forward to strengthen their diplomatic efforts."

Following are the text of Sanders' statement and excerpts from McClellan's March 1 media briefing dealing with Iran:

(begin text)

BOG Agenda Item 5c

Nuclear Verification: Other Safeguards Implementation Issues

Safeguards Implementation in the Islamic Republic of Iran

U.S. Statement
March 2, 2005

Madame Chair,

I want to thank the Director General and the IAEA Safeguards Department for the IAEA's continuing, rigorous efforts to monitor and verify Iran's suspension commitment and to investigate its previously undeclared nuclear program.  I would also like to thank Deputy Director General Goldschmidt for his detailed briefing on these issues and welcome the opportunity to make a few observations in light of his presentation.

For the first time in almost eighteen months, the Board is discussing Iran's nuclear program without considering a written report from the Director General or adopting a resolution.  A casual observer might conclude that this was because the IAEA had been able to resolve all outstanding questions about Iran's decades-long clandestine nuclear activities.  There are those who might assume, and no doubt Iran will insist, that Iran has lived up to its November 15 agreement to suspend all enrichment- related and reprocessing activities, or that Iran had complied fully with all the requests made by this Board over the last two years.  However, as DDG Goldschmidt's remarks confirmed, such conclusions would be drawn in error. Dr. Goldschmidt's recitation of events since November provides us with a startling list of Iranian attempts to hide and mislead, and delay the work of IAEA inspectors.  It is clear that Iran has continued to deny inspectors the transparency and cooperation they need to perform their duties.

Madame Chair,

As the IAEA has confirmed, three months after its suspension pledge was to have taken effect, Iran continued production of uranium tetrafluoride at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Esfahan, only completing that processing on February 18.  This continued UF4 production is not consistent with the November 15 agreement to suspend "all tests or production at any uranium conversion installation."  There was also no legitimate rationale for Iran to rush to load 37 tons of uranium feed material into the UCF in the days before the suspension took effect.  Iran's goals seem to have been to circumvent full implementation of its suspension pledge by claiming the need to process all material in the UCF through to UF4 and move as close as possible to production of UF6 in anticipation of ending its suspension.  We look forward to a further detailed update on this issue once the IAEA's inventory verification at the UCF is complete.

Iran has gone out of its way to press the limits of its own suspension commitment.

In the months following the last Board meeting, as we have heard from Deputy Director Goldschmidt, Iran proceeded to conduct quality control tests on a variety of centrifuge components.  It is difficult to imagine how such testing is consistent with Iran's agreement to suspend "assembly, installation, testing, or operation of gas centrifuges."

The U.S. welcomed the clear messages that the IAEA and others sent to Iran that these activities must stop immediately, but it still remains to be seen whether Iran will take these messages seriously.  Meanwhile, we encourage the IAEA to extend its suspension verification efforts to every declared centrifuge workshop, rather than relying on random visits to select workshops.  We also reaffirm the Board's November resolution calling on Iran to adhere to the terms of its suspension pledge as a necessary precondition for resolving the international community's longstanding concerns about the nature of Iran's nuclear program.  Given Iran's history of clandestine nuclear activities and its documented efforts to deceive the IAEA and the international community, only the full cessation and dismantling of Iran's fissile material production can begin to give us any confidence that Iran is no longer pursuing nuclear weapons.

Madame Chair,

It is not just Iran's manipulation of its suspension commitments that has raised serious concerns.  The Board of Governors has repeatedly called on Iran, most recently in the resolution adopted September 18, 2004, to reconsider its decision to start construction of a heavy water research reactor.  Iran has provided changing and contradictory rationales to the IAEA for this project, which would be well suited for plutonium production. Now we hear that work is continuing on this project.  Yet again, Iran has defied the Board's calls not to proceed with construction of this facility and has thus far failed to provide a credible explanation for its rush to complete this project.  Noting that DDG Goldschmidt has stated that the IAEA has not visited the heavy water research reactor site since this Board adopted our September 2004 resolution, we urge the IAEA to do so at the next opportunity, and to report to the Board on what it finds.

Since June 2003 this Board has repeatedly called on Iran to conclude and implement an Additional Protocol (AP).  The Board welcomed Iran's decision to sign an Additional Protocol in December 2003 and its commitment to act in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol.  However, since late 2003, Iran does not appear to have taken any steps toward ratifying the AP.  As the Board has said repeatedly, Iran needs to take immediate steps to ratify the Additional Protocol.

Madame Chair,

Dr. ElBaradei in his report to the Board earlier this week found it necessary to call yet again on Iran to provide full transparency, noting that in some cases, Iran still has not provided full information or cooperation to the IAEA.  As Dr. ElBaradei reiterated on Monday, Iran's failure to do so has created a "confidence deficit" in Iran's assertions.  We could not agree more, especially in light of Deputy Director General Goldschmidt's remarks.

It is clear that Iran's cooperation falls far short of the standard and expectations set forth in this Board's last resolution of extending "full and prompt cooperation to the Director General" and "to provide any access deemed necessary by the Agency in accordance with the Additional Protocol."  Iran's confirmed failure to allow the Agency full access to three of the four sites it requested to visit in Parchin, and its recent refusal to the IAEA to allow further transparency visits to Parchin, is but one troubling example.  There are others.

Dr. Goldschmidt also indicated that in several instances, Iran failed to provide requested documentation after repeated Agency requests.  Any such refusals by Iran to allow the IAEA full and prompt access to locations of concern, or of requested documentation related to its nuclear program, are unacceptable, and this Board should say so.  The IAEA will be unable to resolve the questions raised by Iran's longstanding clandestine nuclear program and breaches of its Safeguards Agreement unless Iran provides its full cooperation.  The United States requests that the Director General notify this Board immediately of any further cases of Iran denying the Agency such access.  We call on Iran to allow the IAEA full and immediate access to all locations of concern, including any and all requested sites at Parchin.

But Iran's continuing failure to provide full access is not the only outstanding issue concerning Iran's nuclear program, as Dr. Goldschmidt's remarks confirm:

--We are very concerned to hear that Iran only recently admitted to the IAEA that it received an offer in 1987 from a "foreign intermediary" for an extensive range of centrifuge-related equipment and assistance.  This assistance included drawings, specifications and calculations for a complete uranium enrichment plant and materials for 2000 centrifuge machines, as well as equipment for uranium re-conversion and uranium casting capabilities.  Iran's failure to declare this offer in its previous declarations to the IAEA is significant, and indicates to us that Iran has still not declared the full history or scope of its centrifuge programs.  Given that recent press reports of this 1987 offer included details not confirmed by Dr. Goldschmidt, such as the participants in the 1987 meeting or whether that offer was explicitly intended as the first of many "phases" in future cooperation between Iran and that intermediary, we would welcome any further information the IAEA can offer the Board about this significant development.  This evidence further demonstrates Iran's consistent pattern of providing information on its clandestine nuclear activities only when confronted with undeniable evidence from other sources;

--We also hope the IAEA will clarify further what Dr. Goldschmidt meant in his reference to a 1994 offer by a foreign intermediary to provide P-l centrifuge documentation and components to an "Iranian company unrelated to the AEOI."  Why would a company unrelated to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization be engaged in discussions with a foreign intermediary regarding P-l centrifuges?  We hope the IAEA would inform the Board of any further information about this company and its affiliations;

--As Dr. Goldschmidt confirmed, Iran failed to notify the IAEA of its plans to construct deep tunnels for storage of nuclear material near Esfahan until after the IAEA requested a Complementary Access visit.  This constitutes a failure to comply not only with the provisions of Iran's Safeguards Agreement but also with the terms of the Additional Protocol.  Iran's decision to construct such tunnels for future nuclear storage calls seriously into question its commitment to maintaining a suspension for any length of time;

--Iran has thus far failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for its experiments with polonium-210;

--As Dr. Goldschmidt's remarks suggest, Iran has also failed to describe the true nature of activities at the Lavizan facility before Iran razed that facility, during which time Iran delayed access to IAEA inspectors.  We are deeply troubled to hear of the IAEA's concerns that the Lavizan facility may have been involved in acquiring dual-use materials useful in uranium enrichment and conversion activities.  Iran's claim that the Physics Research Center (PHRC) at Lavizan was not involved in activities declarable under NPT safeguards is simply not plausible.  We urge Iran to allow the IAEA to discuss its concerns in detail with the two officials, referred to by Dr. Goldschmidt, involved in the procurement activities of the PHRC, and we urge the IAEA to continue, and deepen, its investigation into possible undeclared nuclear-related activities at Lavizan and into the PHRC's role there;

--We welcome Dr. Goldschmidt's remarks regarding the IAEA's Complementary Access visit to the Gachin mine and associated mill.  We look forward to hearing more from the IAEA regarding what he described as the "complex arrangements governing the current and past administration of the mine."  We continue to wonder, and to ask, whether Iran's military played a role in overseeing that uranium mine, and to what purpose;

--Iran has also failed to provide a plausible explanation regarding the timing of its past clandestine plutonium separation experiments.  We look forward to a definitive conclusion from ongoing IAEA analysis regarding the correct dates of Iran's undeclared plutonium separation experiments.

Madame Chair,

My government has made clear on numerous occasions its position that the Board of Governors must report Iran's non-compliance with its Safeguards Agreement to the United Nations Security Council.  The Board has a statutory obligation to do so -- but thus far, has failed to do so.  The Board cannot ignore forever its statutory responsibility to report this matter to the UNSC.  Failure by Iran to implement fully its suspension pledge, and continued inability of this Agency to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran would represent a growing threat to international peace and security.

While the IAEA must continue to have a role in investigating Iran's past and ongoing nuclear activities and in monitoring its suspension pledge, the Security Council has the international legal and political authority that will be required to bring this issue to a successful and peaceful resolution.  The Security Council has the authority to require that Iran take all necessary corrective measures, including those steps called for by the Board that Iran has failed to take.  The Security Council has the authority to require and enforce a suspension of Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.  In each of these areas, the Security Council can support and reinforce the IAEA's ability to pursue its investigations in Iran until the Agency can provide this Board with all the necessary assurances it requires.

Madame Chair,

As I have already noted, there remain an alarming number of unresolved questions about Iran's nuclear program.  The Deputy Director General's briefing made clear that, despite the Agency's commendable efforts in Iran, the IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations--as it had been doing for years.  The issue of Iran's nuclear program must command the continued vigilance of the Secretariat and of the Board of Governors.  We believe the Board should receive another comprehensive written report from the Director General well in advance of the next Board meeting.  Further, we would expect the Board to convene immediately to consider appropriate action if there is any further deterioration of Iran's adherence to its suspension pledge.  This Board must provide appropriate policy guidance and oversight to the IAEA's ongoing investigation in order to remain effective in a world where states like Iran are willing -- and apparently able -- to cynically manipulate the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons. 

Thank you, Madame Chair.

(end text)

(begin excerpts)

Excerpts about Iran
from Press Secretary Scott McClellan's
March 1 media briefing

QUESTION: Scott, his meeting with the congressional leadership, what's President Bush going to tell them about where he is on this idea, signing on to the EU-3 negotiations to provide incentives for Iran to give up its nuclear program?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think he'll give a summary of his trip. And one of the areas where there was important progress was when it comes to Iran. I think you heard Secretary Rice speak earlier today when she talked about how there was a clarity of purpose and a clear unity of purpose coming out of those meetings with our European friends. And that unity of purpose is focused on getting Iran to abandon its ambitions for a nuclear weapon, and making sure that Iran does not attain a nuclear weapon.

In terms of anything beyond that, obviously, I'll be there for the meeting and if there's anything else to share, I'll be glad to do that. But the President had some very good meetings last week; he's continued to think through some of the ideas that were discussed about how we move forward together to achieve that shared goal of making sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. We are all on the same page on that, and sending the same message to the Iranians.

Q: Will the President accept the idea of Iran having a peaceful and commercial nuclear program for electricity generation, or is he still insisting that they shut down that program?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, our concern has been that they are interested in developing nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. And Iran has certain international obligations that they have committed to. We want to see them live up to those obligations. We, and the international community, want to see them live up to those obligations. That means coming clean and fully cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and fully complying with those international obligations. Ultimately, we want to see the permanent end to Iran's reprocessing and enrichment activities. That will be a key to make sure that they are not developing nuclear weapons.

Q: I get the idea, though, that if they do come clean about reprocessing and enrichment, that you may give them a green light to go ahead with a civilian nuclear program.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've expressed how we don't think they really have a need for nuclear energy, because of their vast amounts of oil and gas resources. But they've also entered into an arrangement with the Russians for supplying -- for getting nuclear fuel for one of their plants. And we've addressed that issue yesterday, when it comes to that. What we want to do is make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. And the international community is firmly behind those efforts.


Q: The Deputy Secretary General of the IAEA just came out and said a number of things, including the fact that Iran is still building a heavy-water reactor that they said they shouldn't build. They're blocking a second investigation of their equipment. And Iran, apparently, just said that they still do intend to make nuclear fuel. So given all of that, is the President still considering signing on to economic incentives?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I don't know that I would characterize anything at this point. The President had meetings with European leaders. They talked about some ideas for the way forward. And I think you need to wait until any decision is made before you start characterizing it, because then --

Q: You've characterized it, that it's --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've not characterized it that way.  Because then we --

Q: -- that it's not incorrect --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've not characterized it that way.

Q: So he's not considering --

MR. McCLELLAN: What the focus here is, is on Iran's behavior and Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. That's where the focus should be. And we all have a shared goal. What we are doing is talking about how we can support the efforts of our European friends to resolve this matter in a diplomatic way. We support the efforts of our European friends to get Iran to abandon its ambitions for a nuclear weapon. And we're talking -- we've been talking with them about the best way forward to strengthen their diplomatic efforts. And that's where the focus is and that's where it should be. It's on Iran and Iran's behavior. And Secretary Rice has continued to have discussions in London, where she's meeting with many of her counterparts.

Q: You just talked about Iran's behavior, but they are saying that they don't intend to yield on something that you are saying is critical to any kind of talks that the U.S. signs on to with the EU-3.

MR. McCLELLAN: They have committed to certain international obligations; we expect them to live up to those obligations. We expect them to come clean and to fully comply with those obligations. We expect them to provide full cooperation to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency, I saw, did express, the Director General expressed some concerns and said that while there may have been some progress, that he would like to see better cooperation from the Iranians in order to build some confidence, because if you recall, they spent many years hiding their activities from the international community, which, again, raises concerns about what they were pursuing.

Q: Scott, would you describe the Iranians as defiant, at this point, or cooperative?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we will see by their action if they are serious about living up to their international obligations. They have said that they are. We will see through their actions. You can understand why we remain skeptical. That's why we're working with our European friends to resolve this in a diplomatic way.

Q: But there are critics who say that, in the face of defiance from the Iranians, now President Bush, who has taken a pretty hard line, is thinking about softening that stance and shifting policy and providing economic incentives. How do you escape the charge that even the consideration of this -- we don't know the final decision by the President, but the consideration of it is a reward for bad behavior?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't think you should look at it that way at all. This is about looking at how we can support the efforts of our European friends to achieve our shared goal, which is getting Iran to end any ambitions for a nuclear weapon and making sure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. That's where the focus is. And that's why we had good discussions last week about how we can move forward to achieve that objective. The focus should be on Iran. It's Iran's behavior that needs to change. It's Iran's behavior that needs to come into compliance with their international obligations.


Q: And on Iran -- this is, I guess, the lawyer blood in me -- people keep referring to giving up a nuclear weapon. Shouldn't it be all nuclear weapons? I mean, that's a clear loophole.

MR. McCLELLAN: On Iran? No, we do not want them to have any nuclear weapons, period.

Q: But the phrase is consistently "a nuclear weapon." And does the administration still think the Iranian people should try to remove or overthrow their government?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has expressed his view that we stand with the Iranian people who aspire for greater freedom. And that's another area where we want to see Iran change its behavior. There is a broader recognition these days that Iran's behavior needs to change in a number of ways. It needs to change when it comes to their desire to have a nuclear weapon; it needs to change when it comes to their continued support for terrorism; and it needs to change when it comes to their human rights record; and it needs to change when it comes to their refusal to hear the voices of the people of Iran who want to live in greater freedom.

Q: Would the U.S. give tangible military support to the Iranian people?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has already addressed that issue.


Q: On his trip to Europe, did the President, when discussing Iran with the Europeans, insist upon or suggest any sort of diplomatic markers for progress that stay on the diplomatic track, or is it just going to be played by ear for months along the line?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it's going to be determined by Iran's behavior. The focus, as you heard the President talk about last week, needs to be on Iran, and that's where the focus was last week. It was on making sure that Iran does not attain any nuclear weapon. And that's where we're going to keep the focus. And now we're talking about how we can do what we can to support the efforts of our European friends to achieve our shared objective.

Q: Are we going to set any sort of time line for negotiations?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that, again, it's going to be up to Iran to see if they're going to live up to their international obligations. And that's what we've made very clear. That's what the international community has made very clear. No, I don't have anything to announce beyond what the President has said previously at this point.


Q: Just one more thing on Iran. Do you think Iran's attitude would change if they had WTO membership?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's an idea that has been expressed by some of our European friends publicly, and I'm not going to go beyond what I've previously said. The President has been thinking through some of the ideas that have been expressed by our European friends. That's where we are right now. Obviously, anytime there's WTO -- if you're applying for WTO membership, there are certain commitments you have to live up to with regards to that, as well.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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