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5 June 2000 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

Excerpts from Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

The Safeguards Statement for 1999 reflects the fact that, for States with safeguards agreements in force, the Agency did not find any indication of diversion or misuse of nuclear material, facilities or equipment placed under safeguards.

For the first time, the Statement also points out that for States with both a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an Additional Protocol in force, and where the evaluation of the available information had been completed, the Agency not only found that there is no indication of the diversion of declared nuclear material but also that there is no indication of the presence of undeclared nuclear material or activities. I welcome this important development of the safeguards system, which, through the implementation of Additional Protocol measures, is now able to provide such comprehensive assurances.

In this regard, I should mention that the Final Document of the NPT Review Conference reaffirmed that the implementation of comprehensive safeguards agreements should be designed to provide credible assurance about the non-diversion of nuclear material from declared activities and of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. However, the Document also noted that comprehensive safeguards agreements provide only a limited level of assurance regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, and hence recognized that the measures to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of the safeguards system must be implemented by all States party to the NPT. I am pleased therefore to be able to present to the Board another five draft Additional Protocols: for Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine. I am also pleased to report that in the past few months Additional Protocols have entered into force for Hungary, Poland and Norway, bringing the total number in force or being applied provisionally to twelve. The Secretariat will continue to use every opportunity to encourage States to conclude the required safeguards agreements and/or an Additional Protocol, and will continue to provide them throughout the process with the required technical and legal support. This is a process where support and encouragement by Member States through their bilateral and multilateral interactions is also very much needed.

I note with satisfaction the acknowledgment by the NPT Review Conference of the importance of the work of the Agency as the principal international organization for nuclear technology transfer and the affirmation by the Conference of the importance of the technical co-operation activities of the Agency in fulfilling the obligations set forth in Article IV of the NPT.....

I would like to refer to the financing of technical co-operation. Last year saw both encouraging and discouraging trends. On the positive side, we received almost $72 million in new resources, a 14% increase over the previous year. Much of this was thanks to one major contributor - Italy. At the same time, a mere 43 out of our 130 Member States pledged and paid 100% of their target shares of the Technical Co-operation Fund, and only 53 pledged and paid 50% or more of their target shares. The problem therefore is more that of Member States not honouring their commitments rather than the level of the target shares. The payment of assessed programme costs was also down from the previous year. I can only echo the Final Document of the NPT Review Conference in urging all Member States to make every effort to pay in full and on time their voluntary contributions to the Technical Co-operation Fund and remind them of their obligation to pay their assessed programme costs.

You have before you the complete Nuclear Technology Review. The Review discusses important aspects of nuclear power, such as its economic competitiveness and viability, the need for technological innovations and sustainable energy management. It also highlights the question of public attitudes, particularly the necessity to demonstrate the safety of high level waste disposal.

Let me in this context bring to your attention three important conclusions about the role of nuclear power in sustainable energy development contained in a recent report by the World Energy Council (WEC), WEC Statement 2000. As you may know, the WEC is a global multi-energy organization whose aim is to foster the sustainable production and use of energy.

The first conclusion is that it is important to keep all energy options open. .....The second conclusion is that renewable energy and hydrogen will not come into play at a level which will reduce the desirability of more efficient and sustainable use of fossil fuels, large hydro projects or a significant role for nuclear power in meeting the goals of energy accessibility and energy availability between now and 2020..... The third conclusion is that up to 2020, global reliance on fossil fuels and large hydro will remain strong, albeit with special emphasis on the role of natural gas and efficient, cleaner fossil fuel systems..... According to the report, the role of nuclear power therefore needs to be stabilized, with the aim of possible future extensions. In parallel, efforts to develop intrinsically safe, affordable nuclear technology need to be encouraged.

You may recall that I have in the past expressed my concerns about the safety of research reactors..... The International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) wrote to me again in April of this year, stating that in their view the problem remains serious because of three major safety issues: the increasing age of research reactors, the number of reactors no longer in operation but not yet decommissioned, and the number of reactors not under the control of appropriate regulatory authorities. In the light of these concerns, INSAG recommends three specific actions. The first is to consider adding a Protocol to the Convention on Nuclear Safety to cover research reactors - a possibility about which I would be interested to receive your views in due course. The second is to address the decommissioning of the more than 200 reactors that are shut down but not yet decommissioned. For this, INSAG proposed training courses or seminars in developing countries and perhaps the development of a demonstration project. The third recommendation was for a thorough review of the safety of all research reactors that are not under the control of an independent national regulatory authority, beginning with the older reactors. To the extent that resources permit, the Secretariat will continue to give priority to the safety of research reactors, and we will be very grateful for any extrabudgetary support for this purpose.

I have already referred a number of times to the NPT Review Conference. The Final Document, that was agreed to by consensus, contains a clear and explicit vote of confidence in the Agency and its contribution to sustainable development, non-proliferation and safety. It reaffirms a number of principles of key importance to our work, among them the following:

  1. Important benefits for achieving sustainable development and for improving the quality of life can derive from the peaceful application of nuclear energy and nuclear techniques. The Agency therefore has a fundamental role in assisting developing countries to improve their scientific, technological and regulatory capabilities.
  2. Agency safeguards form a fundamental pillar of the non-proliferation regime and create an environment conducive to nuclear disarmament and nuclear co-operation.
  3. Both national measures and international co-operation are essential for nuclear and radiation safety and the Agency has an indispensable role in the promotion of a global safety culture.

It is my hope that affirmation of these and other important principles relevant to nuclear disarmament contained in the NPT Review Conference Final Document will be followed by the required action to transform them from ideals into reality.