|March 5, 2008
Minty on Iran policies of UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ABDUL SAMAD MINTY, SOUTH AFRICA’S GOVERNOR TO THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS AT THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS MEETING, 3-7 MARCH 2008 AGENDA ITEM 4 C): REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NPT SAFEGUARDS AGREEMENT AND RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS 1737 (2006) AND 1747 (2007) IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN Chairperson, South Africa fully associates itself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement on this agenda item.
My delegation wishes to thank 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/2008/4. South Africa is highly appreciative of the professional and unbiased manner in which the Director General and Agency Staff continue to execute their mandate in verifying the implementation of NPT safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in particular in resolving most of the outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme, in accordance with the agreed work plan.
Chairperson, South Africa is pleased to note that, with the exception of one issue, the Director General’s report indicates significant progress in resolving the issues relevant to Iran’s past activities. We welcome the report that the Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. We further note that the Agency has been able to conclude that the answers provided by Iran, in accordance with the work plan, are consistent with its findings in the case of the polonium-210 experiments and the Gchine mine, or are not inconsistent with its findings in the case of the contamination at the technical university and the procurement activities of the former Head of PHRC.
South Africa commends Iran for its co-operation in implementing the agreed work plan. We encourage Iran to continue on this path and to further intensify its co-operation. Whilst the issues related to the alleged studies require further attention, we believe that the continued pursuance of an enhanced co-operative relationship between Iran and the IAEA, in a spirit of transparency and trust, will contribute noticeably towards building further confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.
Chairperson, The major remaining issue relevant to the nature of Iran’s past nuclear programme is the alleged studies on the green salt project, high explosives testing and the missile re-entry vehicle. These are indeed serious allegations and it is imperative that Iran should work closely with the Agency in clarifying all issues related to these alleged activities. We recognise that more time is needed for Iran to respond and for the Agency to consider their response, due to the fact that the Agency was only authorised in February 2008 to show Iran actual documentation on the alleged high explosive studies and material relevant to the alleged missile re-entry vehicle.
South Africa notes that the Agency has to date not detected the use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies, nor does it have credible information in this regard. However, South Africa remains concerned that the Agency is still not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities and that the Agency is not yet in a position to determine the full nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. It is critical that Iran remains forthcoming with the necessary additional information for the Agency to determine the full nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.
As we have stated on various occasions during previous Board meetings, the IAEA remains the only international authority that can verify and provide the necessary assurances as to the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. For South Africa, it is therefore essential that the Agency’s verification process is continued and that the IAEA is not hampered in any way.
Chairperson, South Africa welcomes the recent visit by the Director General, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei to Teheran from 11 to 12 January 2008. South Africa welcomes the outcome of the visit that discussed ways and means to accelerate implementation of safeguards in Iran as well as additional confidence-building measures. In South Africa’s view, the Director General’s visit to Iran successfully resulted in an agreement on the timeline for implementation of all the remaining verification issues specified in the work plan.
As Members of the Board are aware, the UN Security Council on 3 March 2008 adopted a further punitive resolution on Iran for not complying with the obligations set out in resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007). When the co-sponsors provided the non-permanent Members of the Council with the elements of a further resolution, South Africa expressed concern about the sequencing of the resolution. In this regard it was noted that the resolution had been drafted prior to the release of the Agency’s report, but yet purports to be based on the IAEA process. It was also not clear to us why the Security Council should adopt a further punitive resolution against Iran at a time when it was co-operating with the IAEA and significant progress was being made in resolving the outstanding issues and completing the agreed work plan. We therefore expressed concern that the Security Council might jeopardise this progress and undermine the integrity of the IAEA.
Chairperson, South Africa regrets that the sponsors of the resolution persisted with the same substantive text that they had tabled before the latest IAEA report was issued and hence the resolution appears not to adequately take into account the progress made in resolving the outstanding issues. South Africa furthermore regrets that the adoption of the new resolution could apparently not be postponed until the Board had the opportunity to consider the matter and to take into account the verbal update provided by the Director General during the Board. This creates the impression that the verification work of the Agency and the important progress that has been made is virtually irrelevant to the co-sponsors of the resolution.
As Members of the Board are aware, the rationale for bringing the Iran issue to the Security Council in the first place was to reinforce the decisions of the IAEA and to enhance its authority, yet the current resolution does not accurately reflect developments at the IAEA. Despite these serious concerns, South Africa voted in favour of the resolution so as to preserve previous decisions of the Council, which Iran has not fully implemented.
Significantly, most Members of the Security Council continue to emphasise the need for and commitment to a negotiated solution. Whatever the contents of the latest resolution, it is important that this should not jeopardise the important gains made during the last few months. We now need to build on the progress achieved through the continued verification work of the Agency.
Chairperson, As a country that remains firmly committed to the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and to their non-proliferation, South Africa does not wish to see a nuclear weaponised Iran. But at the same time, we also don’t want to see the denial of the right of any State Party to the NPT to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The call on Iran to suspend its enrichment activities is related to the issue of building confidence, and may therefore under no circumstances become a goal in itself. Neither should we allow this call to be used as a cover for those who wish to see an indefinite suspension or termination. If we allow this to happen, whether in the case of Iran or any other State Party to the NPT, we will unravel the very basis of the fundamental bargain of the NPT and disturb the carefully balanced rights and responsibilities of State Parties.
At the same time, it is important for Iran to do more to build and restore confidence. More credible assurances are needed and, in this context, we believe that it is important for Iran to recommit itself to the implementation of the Additional Protocol. In addition to the required clarification of all remaining issues pertaining to Iran’s past programme, such a decision will make an important contribution towards providing the necessary assurances and building increased confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities.
It is significant that Iran in the process to clarify all the outstanding issues has provided the Agency with co-operation that goes beyond the requirement of their Safeguards Agreement and in some way has also moved towards the implementation of the Additional Protocol on a de facto basis. We therefore encourage Iran to implement the Additional Protocol as if it has ratified it Chairperson, I have listened carefully to the comments made by Board Members during this debate. This is not the time for unnecessary rhetoric, provocative statements and actions that could merely escalate a spiralling conflict. Events of the past days in the Middle East region have once again reminded us of the severity of a conflict that has prevailed for too long in this sensitive region. A conflict that has not only brought about unimaginable pain and deprivation to the people of this region, but that has also threatened our collective security. As we have stated on various occasions at this Board, we cannot afford another crisis in this region.
Iran has indeed taken substantial steps on the path to implement, through the window of opportunity that the work plan provides, to resolve the final outstanding questions and issues with the Agency. This course of action has placed us on the path of peace and reconciliation.
It is therefore time for all of us to give concrete effect to our stated shared commitment towards the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue. As with all conflicts, this will undoubtedly require restraint and flexibility on all sides. We now need to work for a creative solution to defuse the confrontation and to move towards negotiations. Let us give peace a chance.
The Director General and Agency Staff have our full trust and confidence as they continue to discharge their responsibility in relation to the peaceful nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran.