Topnews, Statements

04. March 2021


Agenda Item 7: Nuclear Verification

(e) NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran

Madame Chairperson,

South Africa reiterates its support for the IAEA and its critical role in ensuring, through its verification activities, that there is no proliferation of nuclear weapons. The safeguards regime, that we all willingly enter into, is the only precondition on our inalienable right to use nuclear energy, science and technology. 

In many Member States of the IAEA, including our own, nuclear programmes have become a central part of our socio-economic development. We, therefore, willingly and freely enter into safeguards agreements as required by international law to safely and securely use this technology.

We are therefore deeply concerned by the steps taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran to step away from its safeguards agreements.  Safeguards agreements are sacrosanct.  Even though we enter into these agreements voluntarily and freely, once signed they become firm legal obligations that directly contribute to international peace and security.  

Of special concern to South Africa, is the suspension by Iran of its Modified Code 3.1, which forms an integral part of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. We have also noted that it has been in place for nearly two decades. We see no legitimate reason for Iran’s suspension of this obligations and we have taken note with concern of the Director General’s statement in the Report before us, that these Agreements: “cannot be modified unilaterally” and that it is a legally binding component of Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.

Furthermore, the fact that these steps are taken in conjunction with Iran’s lack of explanation and full engagement with the Agency regarding a number of outstanding safeguards questions raise questions as to the efficacy of Iran’s safeguards’ declarations.  We therefore call on Iran to reverse these damaging steps regarding its verification obligations.

Madam Chairperson,

The situation before us requires a great deal of work to resolve. We are of the view that efforts need to be redoubled to find a way back to the negotiating table not only with the IAEA but also with the parties to the JCPOA.  We strongly urge Iran to reconsider its position and to, without delay, engage the IAEA and all relevant parties in the format of the Joint Commission to resolve the many issues before us, and to do so without preconditions.  

South Africa further urges Iran to urgently cooperate fully with the IAEA in its efforts to resolve the outstanding issues and to do so without further delay and without preconditions.  We believe that doing so would substantially contribute towards starting to restore confidence that Iran’s nuclear programme remains to be peaceful, which is imperative. In this regard we welcome the intervention made by the Director General at the beginning of the consideration of this Agenda item.

We reiterate that every effort must be made to peacefully and speedily resolve all these outstanding issues. We also urge Iran and the parties to the JCPOA to resume dialogue to resolve all safeguards related matters.  We also call on all parties to not raise tensions further as this could result in disastrous consequences in a highly volatile region.

Finally, safeguards reports are confidential and therefore my delegation is of the view that the Board should not make this report public.

I thank you

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