|1996 Annual Report
|The Agency's approved 1996 programme was implemented for the most part as planned. Additionally, with the assistance of extrabudgetary funding, the Agency responded to unanticipated requirements such as the radiological assessments of nuclear test sites and the provision of advice on physical protection.
Progress was made in important areas including extension of the model project concept in technical co-operation, the introduction of measures for the strengthening of safeguards and the implementation of new procedures for the preparation and review of safety standards. Advances took place in the negotiation of new legal instruments relating to nuclear safety, the safety of spent fuel and waste management, liability and safeguards.
An Integrated Approach to Technical Co-operation
Recent initiatives such as model projects, country programme frameworks (CPFs) and thematic/sectoral planning became increasingly central to technical co-operation activities in 1996. An additional 36 model projects were approved, many of them based on CPFs. The financial implementation of the technical co-operation programme remained at a high level, with a satisfactory balance of resources at the end of the year (equivalent to about two months of new obligations).
One of the largest ever technical co-operation projects, covering radiation and waste safety, progressed significantly during the year. This project will eventually cover some 50 developing countries and will help develop national legislation and practices in this area to an acceptable level by the year 2000 (see Box 1).
Nuclear Techniques and Water Resources Development
Isotope hydrology techniques, with unique capabilities for tracing and mapping water resources essential for sustainable development, were used in a recently completed project in the Moyale region in southern Ethiopia. Covering 45 000 km2, this region, which has three million inhabitants and one of the largest cattle herds on the continent, depends entirely on scarce groundwater resources. Isotope data were used to distinguish between renewable and non-renewable water resources, leading to better estimates of the total sustainable capacity for meeting water needs.
Eradication of the Tsetse Fly
Under a model project in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, to eradicate the tsetse fly, the last wild fly was captured in September with no detections since then. Improved techniques for the rearing of flies were passed on during the year to the tsetse production facility in Tanga, United Republic of Tanzania.
Therapeutic Applications of Radiopharmaceuticals
Priority continued to be given to the use of nuclear techniques and materials in treatment strategies against cancer. The Agency carried out a unique therapeutic clinical study to compare the use of phosphorus-32 and strontium-89 in the palliation treatment of bone pain from cancer metastases (see Box 2).
A Summit on Nuclear Safety and Security was held in Moscow in April. The participants - the G7 countries and the Russian Federation - stressed the importance of nuclear power as an energy source consistent with the goal of sustainable development, commitment to an international nuclear safety culture, strengthening of the Agency's safeguards system, and the need to combat trafficking in nuclear materials. The Agency provided background material for the meeting.
The Agency's nuclear safety efforts are focused on establishing an international infrastructure with three main elements - basic binding conventions, recommended standards and advisory services, and technical assistance. Within the Secretariat, these activities became the charge of a separate Department. In addition, the various advisory groups in which Member State experts consider draft international safety standards and guides were strengthened and reorganized.
Nuclear Liability Convention
The Standing Committee on Liability for Nuclear Damage reached the final stage of preparatory work on a draft protocol to amend the 1963 Vienna Convention and a draft convention on supplementary funding. At its session in October, the full texts of the two instruments were prepared and the Committee agreed to refer the texts to governments for detailed scrutiny.
Conventions on Safety
The Convention on Nuclear Safety entered into force on 24 October. While recognizing that national authorities have responsibility for the safety of nuclear power plants, the Convention lays down a number of fundamental safety principles. It also establishes a procedure under which the parties are obliged to submit reports on the safety of nuclear power plants on their territory and accept review of these reports at meetings of the Contracting Parties.
Negotiations on a convention covering the safety of spent fuel and waste management continued to make progress. The sixth session of the open ended group of legal and technical experts was held in November in Pilansberg at the invitation of the South African Government.
Operational Safety Services
The deterioration of spent fuel from research reactors is a new area of concern. In this context, a team consisting of technical experts from the Agency, France, the Russian Federation and the USA visited the Vinča reactor near Belgrade. Two specific problems were identified that warranted prompt remedial action; a report was transmitted to the authorities concerned.
Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident
On the tenth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident the Agency, the European Commission and WHO co-sponsored an international conference to consolidate the various technical and scientific assessments that have been made over the years (see Box 3).
Radiological Assessments of Nuclear Test Sites
An assessment of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakstan provided assurance that radiation levels in villages around the site are very low. However, it was also concluded that lengthy human occupation of the test site itself would lead to unacceptably high radiation doses and the authorities of Kazakstan have been advised to take steps to clean up the site or prevent access to it. A report will be published in 1997.
An assessment was carried out of the radiological situation on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. A final report is being prepared. Another study of conditions at the Mururoa and Fangataufa Atolls in French Polynesia was initiated. Specifically, a sampling expedition was carried out to study the spatial distribution of radionuclides; the water, biota and sediment samples taken are currently being analysed. The radioactive materials remaining in the deep geological structure and their possible transfer to the biosphere are also being studied.
Nuclear Power and Fuel Cycle
Experts from Member States and international nuclear organizations commenced preparation of key issue papers for the symposium on Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Reactor Strategy: Adjusting to New Realities, to be held in June 1997. The papers will provide background for discussions on the different options for development of the fuel cycle, the management of spent fuel and plutonium and the disposal of radioactive wastes.
Producing Potable Water Economically
The availability of potable water is an emerging issue in many Member States. A two year programme, with the aim of selecting a set of practical options for demonstration projects in seawater desalination using nuclear energy, was completed (see Box 4).
Demonstration of Predisposal Waste Management
Agreements were finalized for the establishment of a reference centre for demonstration of predisposal waste management methods and procedures at the Çekmece Nuclear Research and Training Centre in Turkey, and a first demonstration took place in early 1996. Participants from Albania, Greece, the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey attended this exercise, which dealt with the collection, segregation and treatment of liquid waste, the conditioning of solid low level waste and spent sealed sources, and interim storage. A reference centre for Latin America was also established at a nuclear research establishment in Chile.
Co-operation in Radioactive Waste Management
A Contact Expert Group was formally established in 1996 under Agency auspices to harmonize and follow up on co-operative activities between the Russian Federation and other States in the field of radioactive waste management. The Group currently numbers 11 full members and 3 observers. A list of co-operative projects being implemented or planned was prepared.
Two new treaties were signed in 1996 with a view to establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs) in Africa and South East Asia. Both treaties entrust the Agency with the task of verifying compliance with the peaceful use undertakings of the signatories. The Pelindaba Treaty, signed in Cairo in April, goes further than earlier NWFZ accords and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in that it addresses issues such as prohibition of armed attack on nuclear installations and the possibility of hitherto undeclared nuclear explosive devices. In meeting the specific interests of the region, the South East Asian NWFZ treaty, signed in Bangkok in December, requires the Parties to comply not only with their non-proliferation obligations, but also with commitments in such areas as nuclear trade, nuclear safety and radioactive waste management.
Verification and Disarmament
In the USA, the Agency has been engaged since 1994 in the verification of nuclear material removed from weapon programmes. This material includes separated plutonium and high enriched uranium. At a trilateral meeting of the Russian Minister of Atomic Energy, the US Secretary of Energy and the Director General in September, it was agreed to explore the technical, legal and financial issues connected with the verification of such material in both the USA and the Russian Federation.
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
In September, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Preparatory Commission of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), responsible for the verification of compliance by States Parties to the Treaty, held its first session in November in New York. Preliminary discussions took place about possible future co-operation between the Agency and the Provisional Secretariat for the CTBTO.
Strengthening of Safeguards
Progress was made in the introduction of measures to strengthen the effectiveness and increase the efficiency of Agency safeguards (programme '93+2', Part 1). In February, the 'Clean Laboratory' at the Agency's Safeguards Analytical Laboratory in Seibersdorf was commissioned and work on introducing environmental sampling as a standard safeguards measure was started. Baseline environmental samples from enrichment plants and hot cells were collected in a large number of States.
Additional information required for the measures relating to States' systems of accounting for and control of nuclear material, decommissioned and closed down facilities, and fuel cycles was received and analysed. In a related area, a plan for the introduction of remote monitoring was developed (see Box 5).
Further strengthening measures, requiring supplementary legal authority (93+2, 'Part 2'), were considered by a committee of the Board of Governors in July and October. Following discussions, the Chairman prepared a "Rolling Text of the Draft Protocol" to provide the necessary legal authority. The text will be considered by the Board in 1997.
The nearly 180 non-nuclear-weapon States now party to the NPT have committed themselves to concluding comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency. Nevertheless, over 60 of these States - most of which have no nuclear activities - have yet to do so.
The Agency's ongoing monitoring and verification system, which has been in place since August 1994, remained the principal means to deter any effort by Iraq to reconstitute a nuclear weapon oriented programme, and to provide early warning in the event that the nuclear knowledge and know-how still existing in Iraq were to be used for proscribed activities. In parallel with its field work, the Agency's UNSC 687 Action Team continued the analysis of the vast number of Iraqi documents which were obtained in August 1995 and the assessment of the so-called 'Full, Final and Complete Declaration' - a detailed description of Iraq's past covert nuclear programme - provided by the Iraqi authorities in September.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
The Agency remained unable to verify the initial declaration of nuclear material made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The DPRK was still not in compliance with its safeguards agreement.
The sixth round of technical discussions with the DPRK took place in Vienna in September. No progress was made on important issues, including the preservation of information to enable the Agency to verify in the future the correctness and completeness of the DPRK's initial declaration under its safeguards agreement. The Agency informed the Security Council of the United Nations and the Board of Governors that it cannot provide any assurance that the information required is actually being preserved.
The canning of spent fuel from the 5 MW Experimental Reactor, which began in April, was discontinued at the beginning of November, when about 50% of the fuel rods had been canned.
Trafficking in Nuclear Materials
The database on illicit trafficking incidents, established to provide accurate and timely information to three audiences - Member States, the public and the Agency - became fully functioning and recognized as an authoritative list of incidents verified by Member States. The International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) was established to give advice to Member States on improving national nuclear security systems. IPPAS missions were conducted to Bulgaria and Slovenia.
In 1981, when the first resolution on the 'Staffing of the Secretariat' was under discussion, a number of Member States proposed that a target of 33% be set for the representation of developing countries among Professional staff. At the end of 1996, 32.9% of the Agency's staff came from developing countries. However, the number of women in the Professional category, even though it had doubled since 1981, stood at only 17.3%.
Efficiency and Management
Despite the limitations on resources, the Agency's programme has expanded over the years to take on new activities. The resources for these new activities have become available through the phasing out of some programs and through gains in efficiency. This process continued in 1996 and included systematic, routine evaluations of programme performance to increase efficiency.