Four nations call on Iran to comply with its obligations

07 February 2023

France, Germany, the UK and the USA have called on Iran to comply with all its legally-binding international obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported changes to the configuration of centrifuges at Iran's Fordow plant.

Iranian spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the IAEA had received the necessary notifications in November (Image: Islamic Republic of Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

In a statement issued on 3 February, the three governments said they "take note" of an IAEA report that Iran has implemented a "substantial change" in the configuration of some of its centrifuges that can produce high-enriched uranium (HEU) containing up to 60% uranium-235, without first notifying the agency as it is obliged to do under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.

"Such lack of required notification undermines the agency's ability to maintain timely detection at Iran's nuclear facilities," the states said. "The newly reported change in configuration of centrifuge cascades used to produce near-weapons-grade uranium underscores the need for Iran to meet all its safeguards reporting obligations, and to accept whatever safeguards monitoring the IAEA sees as necessary in light of Iran's production of such highly enriched uranium.

"Iranian claims that this action was carried out in error are inadequate," they said, adding that the production of HEU by Iran at the Fordow Enrichment Plant "carries significant proliferation-related risks and is without any credible civilian justification".

The nations called on Iran "to comply with all its legally-binding international obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and to fully cooperate with the Agency in the application of effective safeguards at Fordow".

The IAEA is responsible for verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but the agency's activities have been seriously affected over the past two years by Iran's decision to stop the implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, including the Additional Protocol.

The IAEA report referred to by the four governments is confidential, but according to press reports the agency found that an interconnection between two centrifuge clusters at the Fordow plant had been significantly modified without it being notified. According to Anadolu Agency, the issues were raised by an IAEA inspector following a recent visit to the site. The IAEA's director general said this undermined the agency's ability to implement safeguards measures at Fordow.

Responding to the statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the IAEA had been notified of the 60% enrichment at Fordow on 17 November and that "all the modes of enrichment have been specified in the data questionnaire".

The ministry said that at the time of the January 2023 inspection "no new measure happened that would be contradictory to the November 17, 2022 questionnaire and would, thus, make it necessary to inform the IAEA thereof."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News