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UN General Assembly Focuses on IAEA, Nuclear Issues

Director General Addresses World Body on Iraq, North Korea, Other Topics.

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Dr. ElBaradei and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. (Credit: Pavlicek/IAEA)

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New York, Nov. 11, 2002 – Addressing the United General Assembly, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, appealed to the Iraqi Government to provide its full co-operation, and for the UN Security Council and international community to fully support weapon inspections in Iraq throughout the inspection process. The General Assembly adopted a resolution on the IAEA's work that, among other points, strongly backed the Agency's verification role.

In the first of two major speeches he delivers this week, Dr ElBaradei outlined what is needed for the inspections to succeed.

"In my view, the success of inspections in Iraq will depend on five interrelated prerequisites: (1) Immediate and unfettered access to all locations and sites in Iraq and the full use of the authority provided to the inspecting organizations by the Security Council; (2) timely access to all sources of information, including all information available to States; (3) unified and full support by the Security Council throughout the inspection process; (4) the preservation of the integrity and impartiality of the inspection process, free from outside interference; and (5) active co-operation from Iraq, with a sustained demonstration of its stated willingness to be transparent, and to assist the inspecting organizations in fully carrying out their missions," he said.

Presenting the IAEA´s annual report before the UN General Assembly, Dr. ElBaradei outlined other top challenges and priorities facing the Agency, including:

North Korea

Referring to recent reports that suggest the Democratic People´ Republic of Korea has been working on an undeclared programme to produce highly enriched uranium, Dr. ElBaradei said: "We have promptly asked the DPRK to confirm these reports, and expressed the need to discuss, at a senior level, this and all other issues relevant to DPRK compliance with its obligations under the NPT safeguards agreement. We have yet to receive a response."

Since 1993, due to a lack of access to information and sites in North Korea, the Agency has been unable to verify that the DPRK´s declared nuclear material is not being diverted for military purposes in accordance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Nuclear Security

The Director General outlined progress on the IAEA´s comprehensive plan for upgrading nuclear security worldwide. The plan was developed in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11 in New York, and efforts to implement it have seen:

  • Peer reviews conducted to assess the physical protection at nuclear power plants and other facilities;
  • Workshops and training courses held to help governments assess the treats to their nuclear facilities, raise their standards of security, improve control of nuclear and radioactive material, upgrade their boarder monitoring, and prepare response plans for nuclear and radiological emergencies;
  • Missions sent to Afghanistan, Georgia and Uganda to assist in recovering radiological sources that went astray or were not adequately protected; and
  • In mid-June, a partnership was established between Russia, the USA and the Agency to locate and secure powerful radioactive sources that were lost or abandoned during the dissolution of the former Soviet Union.

Verification

Dr. ElBaradei strongly urged States to meet their obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"Regrettably, 49 States have yet to fulfill their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to bring safeguards agreements with the IAEA into force, and since 1997, when the Model Additional Protocol was adopted, only 28 such protocols have entered into force. This is clearly not a satisfactory situation.

"Without safeguards agreements in force, the Agency cannot perform any verification activities or provide any assurance of non-proliferation. And for States without additional protocols, IAEA rights of access remain essentially the same as in pre-Iraq days," Dr ElBaradei said.

Nuclear Safety

The Director General spoke about concerns over the risks involved in the transport of spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive material and, what the IAEA was doing to enhance transport safety. "It is important that Member States – particularly transporting countries – make use of this valuable service," Dr ElBaradei said. At an international conference next year the Agency will provide a forum for all interested Member States to discuss transport safety issues

Technology

Dr. ElBaradei said that nuclear technologies could provide preferred solutions – and sometimes the only solutions – to economic and social problems. "Of the more than $500 million worth of technical co-operation provide by the IAEA in the last ten years, more than 800 projects, valued at over $200 million, have specifically supported Agenda 21".

Budget

Dr. ElBaradei told the UN General Assembly that increasing IAEA funding for the next biennium was essential, as the Agency´s regular budget had essentially been frozen for fifteen years – despite expanding its responsibilities.

On Thursday 14 November, he will deliver a keynote address at the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference in Washington, DC. It focuses on ways to strengthen global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, including the importance of IAEA verification, and to achieve nuclear disarmament.