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June Board of Governors Meeting Convenes

IAEA Board of Governors

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addresses the Board of Governors. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano opened the Board of Governors meeting on 6 June 2011 with his statement focusing on, among other issues, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, nuclear applications, and nuclear safeguards.

Fukushima Daiichi Accident

"The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has been a priority for the IAEA since it happened on 11 March. The IAEA has distributed information related to the accident, validated by Japan and other countries, which has served as a reference point. It continues to provide all possible advice and assistance to the Government of Japan as it works to achieve the goal of full stabilisation of the plant. We have worked closely from the start with international partners such as the World Health Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.

"In March, a special Board of Governors meeting was convened to discuss the Fukushima Daiichi accident. In April, the 5th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety provided a first formal opportunity for parties to the Convention to share their preliminary thoughts on the lessons that need to be learned.

"An IAEA International Fact-Finding Mission, consisting of top world experts from a dozen Member States and the Agency, visited Japan from 24 May to 2 June in order to make an assessment of safety issues related to the accident. After sharing preliminary findings and lessons learned with the Government of Japan, it is now preparing its final report, which will be presented to the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety.

"This Ministerial Conference is of vital importance for global nuclear safety after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Its main goals are to make a preliminary assessment of the accident, strengthen emergency preparedness and response, and launch the process of reviewing the global nuclear safety framework in order to strengthen it. The IAEA, with its broad membership and unrivalled expertise in all aspects of nuclear energy and nuclear safety, is the focal point for international follow-up of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. I count on strong participation at a high level by all Member States in the Conference in order to send a strong message concerning their commitment to enhanced nuclear safety.

"The Ministerial Conference will be part of a lengthy process of establishing a comprehensive post-Fukushima nuclear safety framework, building on the valuable system that is already in place. I am looking forward to hearing your views during this Board. Based on these views, as well as those expressed during the consultations, and drawing from the Agency's rich experience in assisting Member States in this field, I plan to make some suggestions at the Conference on how to strengthen nuclear safety. I welcome the initiatives and proposals already made by many Member States. I appreciate the proposal made by the Government of Japan to host a conference with the IAEA in the latter half of next year, which demonstrates Japan's commitment to full transparency and its willingness to share its experience for the benefit of all countries.

"At the request of Member States from the Asia-Pacific region, we have put before you for approval a new, off-cycle TC project in support of a marine benchmark study on the possible impact of the Fukushima radioactive releases in the region. The project provides for the possibility of Small Island Developing States of the Pacific, which are not Members of the Agency but have shown interest in the study, to participate with the approval of the members of the Regional Cooperative Agreement. Work will start as soon as funding is received."

Nuclear Applications

"Preparations are well underway for the Scientific Forum in September which, as you know, will be devoted to nuclear techniques for water. The aim is to improve understanding among Member States and other key partners of the added value of nuclear techniques in water management and of the Agency's broad range of activities in this area. These include water resources assessment, agricultural water management, and aquatic pollution control.

"To give just one example of the Agency's work, 19 African countries are participating in a regional agricultural project using small-scale irrigation technology for better use of water and fertilizer. Nuclear techniques are used to assess soil moisture for plant water requirements and to measure fertilizer uptake. The evidence so far is that drip irrigation increases crop yields while using up to 30% less water than traditional methods."

Nuclear Verification

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
"I will present a comprehensive report on the Agency's previous verification activities in the DPRK, as requested, to the September Board and the General Conference."

Islamic Republic of Iran
"Since my previous report on the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Rrelevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Agency has received further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities that seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme. There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued until recently.

"Last month, I sent a letter to His Excellency, Dr. Fereydoun Abbasi, Vice President of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, reiterating the Agency's concerns about the existence of possible military dimensions. I also requested that Iran provide prompt access to relevant locations, equipment, documentation and persons. I received a reply from His Excellency, Dr. Abbasi, on 31 May. I replied in turn in a letter to him dated 3 June, in which I reiterated the Agency's requests to Iran.

"The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the Agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. I urge Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations in order to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme."

Syrian Arab Republic
"As you will have seen from my report on the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Agency has come to the conclusion that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency. This is the best assessment of the Agency, based on all the information in its possession.

"The Syrian Government was given ample time by the Agency to cooperate fully concerning the Dair Alzour site, but did not do so. Nevertheless, we had obtained enough information to draw a conclusion. I judged it appropriate to inform Member States of our conclusion at this stage as it was in no one's interest to let this situation drag on indefinitely. On 26 May, I received a letter from the Atomic Energy Commission of Syria, the contents of which have been shared with you. I am confident about our conclusion and I look forward to engaging further with Syria to resolve related outstanding issues.

"It is deeply regrettable that the facility was destroyed - allegedly by Israel - without the Agency having been given an opportunity to perform its verification role. Rather than force being used, the case should have been reported to the IAEA.

"Concerning the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, Syria has cooperated with the Agency by providing the requested access to Homs, among other sites. Syria's statements concerning the previously unreported conversion activities at the MNSR and the origin of anthropogenic uranium particles are not inconsistent with the results of the Agency's verification activities. This matter will be addressed in the routine implementation of safeguards."

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-- By Sasha Henriques, IAEA Division of Public Information


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