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Statement by H.E. Ambassador WANG Qun at the IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
2020/06/18

Madam Chair,

China takes note of DG's report on NPT Safeguards Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, as contained in GOV/2020/30. Although the question of Iran's provision of access in itself is a CSA issue, this report, together with certain countries' draft resolution on the above issue, could, however, set forth a process, under the current circumstances, that may bring the Iranian nuclear issue back to a crossroad full of uncertainties again. China is deeply concerned about the development based on the above report.

For some time now, tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue have been escalating again. The root causes of this situation lie in the unilateral and bullying practices of the U.S., as evidenced by its unilateral withdrawal from JCPOA and its policy of maximum pressure towards Iran. In addition, the U.S. has not only ended the sanctions waiver covering all remaining JCPOA-originating nuclear projects, but also openly pushed for the extension of the conventional arms embargo against Iran in UN Security Council in an attempt to completely destroy JCPOA.

Against this backdrop, China expresses its deep concern about the Agency's persistence to hastily jump to the conclusion of the Iran's denial of access and, on this basis, publish its corresponding report before the current Board session.

Madam Chair,

Three basic facts, on issues of safeguards implementation in Iran, need to be born in mind:

-- First, the non-urgent nature of the access issue focused in DG's report. The secretariat, clearly on record, shared with the Board members before the March Board session this year that this issue dated back a long time and involved a very small amount of nuclear material, and that the issue in itself was not urgent, and did not entail proliferation risk.

-- Second, since implementation of JCPOA in 2016, Iran has always maintained a high level of cooperation with the Agency on monitoring and verification, and it is actually the country that hosted the highest number of inspections by the Agency.

-- Third, the DDG of the Agency has visited Iran twice for political dialogue. Iran has also repeatedly reaffirmed its readiness to continue dialogue and cooperation with the Agency in fulfilling its obligations under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol and to cooperate with the Agency. And Iran has invited the Agency for further visit and consultation.

Madam Chair,

The aforementioned report (GOV/2020/30) is a report submitted in the DG's personal capacity, requiring no endorsement of its Member States, but it could nevertheless still be possible to become a basis for subsequent actions by the Board, and even the Security Council. For this very reason, such a report will have to be impartial and objective on the basis of the provisions of the relevant CSA and AP of the Agency. In this context, I wish to seek the following clarifications from the Secretariat:

Firstly, what are the specific legal basis of the Agency's request for access vis-a-vis the provisions of relevant CSA and AP? Is it an undeniable fact that there are different views within the Board on the question of the legitimacy of the above request by the Agency?

Secondly, the Agency has concluded in its report, in the absence of verification, that there are "three possible activities" in Iran, i.e. the "possible" drilling and hybriding of natural uranium, the "possible" processing and conversion of uranium ore including fluorination related to nuclear fuel cycle, and the "possible" conventional explosive testing, including in relation to testing of shielding in preparation for the use of neutron detectors. Is it, under such a circumstance, an approach based prejudgment, or even presumptions of guilt?

Thirdly, from the three above "possibles", it is just axiomatic that there is no certainty, on the part of the Agency, over the above activities. Under such circumstances, especially at a time when Iran has repeatedly reiterated its determination to continue cooperation with the Agency and invited the Agency to Iran for further discussions, why the Agency still persisted on coming into the conclusion of Iran's denial of access and submitting the report in such a hurry? Will this move help solve the problem, or just escalate the situation?

Madam Chair,

In view of the above, China has reinforced its conviction that there is still room for a solution on the question of Iran's access. Under such a circumstance, China cannot go along with, in terms of the approach, the DG's report currently submitted, nor can China go along with conclusion contained therein. Still less, China can go along with any resolution tabled on a controversial basis. Certain countries, while pushing ahead the draft resolution, have denied the peril of such a move. This is a classic case in point of an ostrich policy, totally irresponsible. Such a draft resolution, once adopted, may well be the basis for further actions in the Security Council, leading to the ultimate termination of JCPOA, to the detriment of, not only the CSA and AP, but the entire global non-proliferation regime, with NPT as its cornerstone, as well.

Madam Chair,

China calls upon Iran to earnestly implement its obligations under the CSA and AP, demonstrate flexibility and constructiveness, and continue its in-depth communications with the Agency on the issue of access with a view to finding an earliest solution through dialogue and cooperation.

China calls upon the Agency to conduct its activities in an objective, impartial and independent manner and carry out monitoring and verification activities on Iran in accordance with provisions of the relevant CSA and AP, while avoiding politicization.

China calls upon the US to change the erroneous policy by abandoning its maximum pressure towards Iran.

China also calls upon relevant countries to refrain from the practice of exerting undue pressure on Iran by means of resolutions, by no longer pushing it into vote.

Madam Chair,

At this critical moment, preserving JCPOA helps preserve multilateralism and the international non-proliferation regime. It also helps maintain peace and stability in the Middle East, in the fundamental interests of all parties.

China calls upon all relevant parties to position themselves on the right side of the history by shouldering their historic responsibilities and by continuing their support to the constructive dialogue and cooperation between the Agency and Iran so as to properly settle relevant safeguards implementation issues.

In no case can we afford to allow the Iranian nuclear issue to go back to the old road of confrontation.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

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