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More Than A "Watchdog"

Director General Yukya Amano Addresses 54th General Conference

IAEA General Conference

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addresses the opening plenary session of the 54th IAEA General Conference. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Director General Yukiya Amano opened the IAEA´s General Conference today, summarising the Agency´s activities and achievements in the 10 months since he assumed office. He covered a wide range of issues from nuclear energy to safety and agriculture.

"I am trying to change the widespread perception of the Agency as simply the world´s ´nuclear watchdog´ because it does not do justice to our extensive activities in other areas, especially in nuclear energy, nuclear applications, and technical cooperation. This year, we are focusing on cancer, which is the subject of the Scientific Forum starting tomorrow," he said.

Mr. Amano went on to highlight plans for the medium- and long term as well as initiatives that will soon be launched in a number of areas.

Nuclear Energy

"It is not an exaggeration to say that we have entered a new era. We expect between 10 and 25 new countries to bring their first nuclear power plants on line by 2030. [Also,] I intend to encourage international lending institutions which are reluctant to support nuclear power projects to be more open to such projects."

Nuclear Applications

"A new human health e-learning website, providing resources for health professionals engaged in delivering radiation medicine, will be launched next month. [And] we have initiated a new IAEA Water Availability Enhancement Project, which is aimed at helping Member States to acquire knowledge of their water resources."

Nuclear Safety and Security

As he stressed the need for effective national and global response to radiation-related incidents, he revealed that the infrastructure of the Agency´s Incident and Emergency Centre will be further enhanced in the coming year. "Effective national and global response capabilities are essential to minimize the impacts from nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies and to build public trust in the safety and security of nuclear technology."

Nuclear Verification

Addressing the restructuring of the Agency´s laboratories he said, "As far as the new Nuclear Material Laboratory is concerned, we hope to award a construction contract in December so that work can start in July 2011. Despite extra budgetary contributions by several Member States, for which I am deeply grateful, we still need additional funding to complete this project."

Regarding the IAEA´s verification activities, Mr. Amano noted that, "I have continued to report regularly to the Board of Governors on implementation of Agency safeguards, including in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic, which have been on the Board´s agenda. My basic approach has been that all safeguards agreements between Member States and the Agency, and other relevant obligations, should be implemented fully."

"The nuclear programme of the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea remains a matter of serious concern. The Agency has had no inspectors in the country since April last year. I again call on all parties concerned to make concerted efforts for a resumption of the Six-Party Talks at an appropriate time."

Verification Related to Nuclear Disarmament

"We recently received a joint letter from the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, requesting IAEA assistance to independently verify implementation of their agreement on the disposition of plutonium no longer required for defense purposes."

Scientific Forum

The Director General was also deeply gratified by Member States´ enthusiasm for the fight against cancer. "Confirmed pledges and donations to our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) are running at record levels. We are also seeing a very strong commitment by developing countries to our activities, which has led to an improvement in the quality of some of our cancer-related technical cooperation projects. I appeal to all of you to participate in the Forum and to actively support the Agency´s work on cancer control."

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-- By Sasha Henriques, IAEA Division of Public Information.