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Topnews, Statements

08. June 2021

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE/GOVERNOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 8 JUNE 2021, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 5: VERIFICATION AND MONITORING IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN IN LIGHT OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2231 (2015)

Madame Chair

We join others in thanking the Director General and the Department of Safeguards under the leadership of Mr Aparo for the reports before us.

Unfortunately, the situation on the ground has worsened since the March meeting of the Board of Governors, and South Africa is deeply concerned about the latest developments. Of great concern is the fact, as confirmed by the Reports before us, that Iran has increased its capacity to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) and that it has been accumulating HEU enriched up to, and over, 60%.  We call upon Iran to immediately cease and reverse these steps that further undermine the non-proliferation guarantees of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

We believe that this untenable situation was caused by the poorly conceived policy of maximum pressure, which not only saw a key State Party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) withdraw, but also saw that State Party actively work against the success of the JPOCA by implementing, amongst others, harsh sanctions regime, not only against Iran but also against States and companies that were doing business with Iran.  These steps actively undermined International Law as encompassed in UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) and brought the Agreement to the precipice of collapse. This situation was worsened by the inability of the alternative mechanism conceived by the EU to restore, at least partially, the economic benefits, and therefore the balance, of the JCPOA.

South Africa therefore strongly supports the Proximity Talks currently taking place between the State Parties of the JCPOA and the United States as facilitated by the European Union Commission.   

We are pleased that progress in both the Sanctions and Nuclear Working Groups are being made and we urge the parties to redouble efforts to finalise the outstanding issues and to do so with haste.

Time is of the essence, and we urge all State Parties of the JPOCA, especially Iran, as well as the United States, to take the necessary steps as quickly as possible to return to full compliance with this crucial agreement.  The global non-proliferation regime is weaker without a fully functioning JCPOA and it is crucial that it be fully restored.

Madam Chair

We join others in thanking the IAEA for its professional and impartial work in implementing its monitoring and verification activities in Iran, despite difficult circumstances. We welcome the extension of the Temporary Technical Understanding between Iran and the IAEA that will allow for the Agency to maintain its “continuity of knowledge” – at least in the interim. We have taken note and welcome the agreement that Iran will maintain and store the data collected digitally and we hope that the restoration of the JCPOA will comes soon so that the IAEA retains continuous monitoring of Iran’s nuclear programme. We also call on Iran to reinstate the transparency measures under the JCPOA, including the provisional implementation of the Additional Protocol. 

Madam Chair,

In conclusion, South Africa has also taken note with concern of the number of violent incidents in Iran that has also targeted its nuclear facilities. These are deeply troubling developments and it appears as if there are forces at work that want to undermine the proximity talks and the JCPOA in general.  Targeting nuclear facilities potentially could have serious transboundary implications which will impact the region for many years.  In addition sabotage targeting nuclear facilities directly breaches international law, including the statute of the IAEA. We hope that these actions will come to an end immediately and that the international community will rally around the negotiations taking place here in Vienna and provide support to the parties as they approach an agreement.

I thank you

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