Statement by Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty, South Africa's Governor to the IAEA Board of Governors at the IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Vienna, 12 September 2007
Agenda item 7: Nuclear Verification (d) Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007) in the Islamic Republic of Iran
At the outset, my delegation fully associates itself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement on this agenda item.
My delegation expresses its appreciation to and thanks the Director General, Dr Mohammed ElBaradei for his report on the "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", as contained in document GOV/2007/48.
We wish to reiterate our sincere appreciation to the Director General and the Agency staff for their continued highly professional, objective and unbiased approach to resolve the few outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme, in accordance with the ongoing verification activities.
South Africa notes that in accordance with the Director General's latest report the Agency continues to be able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. South Africa is further pleased to note that Iran has been providing the Agency with access to declared nuclear material, including providing the required nuclear material accountancy reports in connection with the declared nuclear material and facilities.
It is further note worthy that since the last report of the Director General at our meeting in June 2007, important progress has been made to resolve some of the outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, in particular resolving the issue of the plutonium separation experiments and the design information verification undertaken at the IR-40 reactor.
South Africa commends Iran for its co-operation with the Agency in resolving these issues and we encourage Iran to continue and indeed intensify its co-operation.
We should recall that after many years of verification activities by the Agency, there remain outstanding issues on Iran’s nuclear programme, and the Agency is also not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.
The Board of Governors and later also the United Nations Security Council have outlined certain corrective measures to be taken by Iran to address these outstanding questions and allow the Agency to express itself on the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations required in terms of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. It is clear that the process to resolve these outstanding issues is not open ended, and should be completed as soon as possible. The actions by the Security Council are to reinforce the authority of the Board and the Agency and are therefore by their nature not intended to be punitive.
In this context, South Africa welcomes the recent understanding reached between Iran and the IAEA on the modalities for the resolution of the outstanding issues. This understanding provides a major building block in resolving these issues within a specific time frame. The Director General’s statement at the opening of this session of the Board clearly provided the context in which this understanding will have to be implemented. South Africa shares this perception of the Director General on the implementation of this understanding.
It is therefore important, as requested by the Board that Iran implement transparency measures which extend beyond the formal requirements of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.
We believe that we are on the right path. Iran is providing information to the Agency, which has already enabled the Agency to resolve some of the outstanding issues. Iran has therefore indeed adhered to this requirement of the Board and the Security Council. This is a commendable development and we encourage Iran to not only continue to implement such transparency measures, but also to enhance them, as this will be required to reconstruct the history of Iran’s nuclear programme, which is a key element in resolving the outstanding issues.
Although resolving the outstanding issues would contribute to building confidence in Iran’s past nuclear activities, it is essential that Iran also builds confidence in its present and future nuclear programme. Importantly, the Agency must be able to provide assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. South Africa therefore agrees with the statement by the Director General, that “ given the special history of Iran’s nuclear programme, it would be indispensable for Iran to ratify and bring into force its Additional Protocol, as called for by the Security Council and the Board.”
Board members will recall that South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has stated in the past, and I quote: "At every point we have called for dialogue and negotiations, and in the current crisis, encourage all parties to spare no effort to seek a comprehensive and sustainable solution. South Africa will continue to encourage all parties concerned to enter into a dialogue and negotiations in order to seek a comprehensive and sustainable solution. South Africa and the international community do not wish to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, but equally we do not want to see war over Iran's nuclear programme" Unquote.
Through the full implementation of this agreed work plan between the Agency and Iran and in accordance with the time lines set out therein, the necessary confidence will be created that could spark the resumption of negotiations between Iran and all concerned parties. This would avoid a confrontation, which no one desires and which would have catastrophic consequences for all.
South Africa also fully supports the statement of the Director General in which he called for a “double time-out” of all enrichment related activities and of sanctions, thereby providing a window of opportunity for the resumption of these negotiations.
The Islamic Republic of Iran now has the opportunity, to demonstrate and reassure the international community that all aspects of its past, present and future nuclear programme are entirely peaceful. South Africa calls on Iran to seize this opportunity to resolve the remaining outstanding issues and to restore the international community's belief that its nuclear programme is peaceful. Iran must also act with the requisite political will and determination to clarify all outstanding and related issues as soon as possible in a professional manner that will enable the Agency to discharge its responsibilities and instil confidence in the process.
In conclusion, Chairperson,
South Africa encourages all parties to refrain from any actions that would hinder the implementation of the understanding reached between the Agency and Iran. We believe that the Director General, through his wise and innovative leadership, has placed us on a path of resolving in a peaceful way the issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme.
We are at the cross-roads between the path of peace and that of escalation along the road to confrontation and conflict and we must all choose the path of peace and reconciliation and avoid war. We must be realistic and accept that a difficult and delicate process is still ahead of us. However, this is not the time for unwarranted scepticism or cynicisms and we all have to concentrate on the big picture and assume our responsibility in that context. What is required of all of us is to support the work plan and its objectives and we must all avoid the temptation to micro-manage the process from the sidelines. The Director General and the Secretariat must enjoy our full trust and confidence to enable them to discharge their solemn responsibility.
It is therefore incumbent on all of us to grasp this opportunity, which may well be the last one, in order to avoid a major catastrophe that would be disastrous for all concerned.
I thank you.