Statement by South Africa's Governor, Mr Abdul Samad Minty to the IAEA Board of Governors on the Implementation of NPT Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran, (Agenda item 3c: Other safeguards issues), Vienna, 24 November 2005

Chairperson,

At the outset, South Africa fully associates itself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. My delegation appreciates and commends the Director General for his informative and factual report on the "Implementation of NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", as contained in document GOV/2005/87. This report clearly demonstrates the progress made in resolving the outstanding issues surrounding the Islamic Republic of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme.

Chairperson,

At the September 2005 Board meeting, South Africa together with a significant number of Board Members abstained on the resolution adopted by the Board of Governors which found the Islamic Republic of Iran to be in non-compliance in the context of Article XII.C of the Agency's Statute. South Africa together with a substantial number of Board Members believes that the resolution was not the correct course of action to follow.

Following the Board resolution and the subsequent report by the Director General as contained in document GOV/2005/87, South Africa continues to believe that the correct course of action remains for the Board to allow for more time that would enable the Agency to continue with its process to clarify certain issues pertaining to the Islamic Republic of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme.

Chairperson,

This report by the Director General shows a continuing positive trend of co-operation and transparency by the Islamic Republic of Iran with the Agency. The report recognises that Iran continues to act as if its Additional Protocol were in force, which is consistent with the undertaking provided by Iran to the Agency in November 2003. South Africa notes that the Agency is currently reviewing new information provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran on the P-1 and P-2 enrichment programmes and subject to the requested documentation, is hopeful that this issue would soon be resolved.

Furthermore, South Africa welcomes the Agency's observation that in their monitoring of the installations related to the uranium gas centrifuge and laser enrichment programmes, no inconsistencies have been observed with the Islamic Republic of Iran's undertaking not to carry out any enrichment activities. Furthermore, the report confirms that the activities at the UCF plant remains under Agency containment and surveillance measures.

It is also noted that documents related to the casting and machining of enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into hemispherical forms, were, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran, provided on the initiative of the procurement network and not at the request of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Recent experiences with such illicit networks clearly demonstrated that individuals and structures operated through various centres worldwide sourcing and supplying both tangible and intangible technology. South Africa therefore believes that it is imperative that those who have information on these networks, especially the countries from which these networks operated or sourced technology, share all such information with the Agency, as South Africa has done. We need to empower the Agency in every way possible to gain an understanding of how these networks operate. We need to recognise that this co-operation is urgent since the illicit structures are also adapting to increased focus on their activities. It is only then that we can effectively combat and eradicate these illicit activities.

Chairperson,

It is of particular significance that the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a demonstration of its commitment to transparency, allowed the Agency access to buildings within the military Parchin site and allowed the Agency to take environmental samples.

South Africa commends the Islamic Republic of Iran for this action and urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to continue with this proactive and transparent co-operation with the Agency. Such action contributes to the clarification of the outstanding issues and strengthens the confidence of the international community that the issues pertaining to the Islamic Republic of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme will soon be resolved.

We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to continue to provide its full co-operation to the Director General and his staff, which would allow the Agency to verify and complete its work in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Chairperson,

South Africa remains steadfast in its belief that weapons of mass destruction pose a threat to humanity, and that these weapons should be eradicated as a matter of priority. Regarding nuclear weapons, it is important for universal adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the early implementation by the nuclear- weapon States of their unequivocal undertaking to eliminate their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament and the implementation of the adopted practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI of the NPT and paragraphs 3 and 4 (c) of the 1995 Decision on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

We should all agree that no one should develop, acquire or possess nuclear weapons.

Chairperson,

The confidence building measures that the Islamic Republic of Iran has agreed to in its effort to re-establish international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, including the voluntary non-legally binding suspension of its enrichment related activities, is without prejudice to its inalienable right, as an NPT State Party, to pursue a nuclear programme for peaceful purposes in conformity with its obligations under Articles I and II of the NPT. Furthermore, South Africa has consistently urged Members not to equate such voluntary measures with the legally binding obligations stemming from Members' safeguards agreements with the Agency.

We have in the past welcomed and commended the Islamic Republic of Iran for the confidence building measures and recognise the importance of these measures in facilitating dialogue. South Africa wishes to emphasise the importance of these measures including the implementation of the Additional Protocol as if it is ratified, as this enables the Agency to discharge its verification responsibilities. It is imperative that the Agency should conclude its work without undue pressure, haste or hindrance.

These confidence building measures being implemented and the continued co-operation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Agency as well as initiatives under current discussion to facilitate the long-term solution of the Islamic Republic of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme, provide us with a narrow window of opportunity, to be grasped by all concerned, to make a concerted effort to find a peaceful and sustainable long-term solution.

South Africa has on many occasions reiterated the importance for states with access to advanced technologies that can also be used for the development of nuclear weapons to build confidence with the international community.

Chairperson,

We should all recognise the responsibility that rests on our shoulders to avoid actions which may be counter productive and concentrate on the central challenge that faces us. At this important juncture we urge the parties concerned to focus on the critical importance to pause and reflect on all the issues involved and, at all costs, avoid a confrontation that could escalate into a spiralling conflict that could generate its own momentum with consequences none can foretell and which will benefit none and threaten international peace and security.

Chairperson,

South Africa urges the concerned parties to engage constructively in a dialogue that would enable negotiations to again be undertaken in good faith. This golden opportunity, which is within our grasp, should not be lost and it may not occur again.

South Africa will therefore continue to co-operate on this matter to enable that a lasting and peaceful solution is found that would benefit us all.

I thank you.

Issued by

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

24 November 2005

 

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