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10 December 2002 | Tokyo, Japan
International Conference on the Wider Adherence to Strengthened IAEA Safeguards

Strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferatin Regime: An International Priority

by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

I would like to begin by thanking the Government of Japan for organizing and hosting this timely and important meeting. Japan continues to play an essential role in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, in terms of its leading role in nuclear energy, its technical co-operation with other countries in the use of nuclear applications and its strong commitment to non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.

This conference takes place at a time when the nuclear non-proliferation regime is in the midst of responding to cases of non-compliance, with all the challenges that entails. After four years of absence, IAEA inspectors have returned to Baghdad - with the aim of bringing to verified compliance Iraqi disarmament in terms of all weapons of mass destruction, as required by the Security Council. Recent reports have suggested the presence of an undeclared uranium enrichment programme in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. These two cases vividly illustrate the importance of effective verification - as an essential prerequisite for providing credible assurance to the international community relevant to compliance with non-proliferation obligations, and as a powerful tool for detection and deterrence.

Strengthened Safeguards and the Universality of Their Application

Impartial and credible inspections have been a cornerstone of many international arms control agreements for decades. The IAEA's safeguards system verifies the compliance with non-proliferation obligations undertaken by States party to the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) - and other non-proliferation agreements. For this purpose, we use an increasing array of verification techniques - including material accountancy, remote surveillance, on-site inspections, and satellite monitoring. Our authority is based on the "comprehensive safeguards agreement," which a State is required to conclude with the Agency under the NPT and other non-proliferation agreements. The safeguards agreement provides us with the authority mainly to verify that a State has not diverted any of its "declared" nuclear material (that is, the inventory provided by the State) for non-peaceful purposes.

But our experience in Iraq in the early 1990s, and the discovery there of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, made it clear that the IAEA verification system, with its focus on declared nuclear activities and its limited rights of access to information and to other locations, was neither sufficiently robust nor comprehensive. This new reality prompted the international community to adopt a number of measures to strengthen the system, and to provide the IAEA with the tools necessary to provide comprehensive and credible assurance.

The most important measures were those incorporated into a protocol additional to safeguards agreements, which was approved in 1997 by the IAEA Board of Governors. The additional protocol greatly enhances the IAEA's verification capability by endowing it with expanded rights of access to information and to sites. The Agency is now able to provide credible assurance not only about the diversion of declared nuclear material but also about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. But this authority exists only for those States that have concluded both a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol with the IAEA. For States with no additional protocol, the IAEA rights of inspection are essentially the same as in pre-Iraq days. A major Agency focus, therefore, is to underline the importance of and encourage adherence to both safeguards agreements and additional protocols. This is the goal and focus of this conference.

The new authority provided for in additional protocols was not meant simply as an add-on to the authority provided for in comprehensive safeguards agreements. The intention from the start has been to "integrate" the authority provided for under both legal instruments in order to achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

In March of this year, the Agency completed the conceptual framework for "integrated safeguards" - which represents a true milestone. Integrated safeguards ushers in a new system of verification that puts emphasis not only on quantitative but also on qualitative measures - a system that is driven by effectiveness, but with every effort to improve efficiency. However, integrated safeguards can only be applied and greater assurances can only be reached for those countries that have both safeguards agreements and additional protocols in place.

A number of countries with large nuclear fuel cycle programmes, including Japan, have already concluded and brought into force their additional protocols. As countries bring their additional protocols into force - particularly countries with large nuclear programmes - the workload will initially increase, but reductions will ensue after the initial conclusions have been drawn and integrated safeguards initiated. Further evaluation, feedback, newly available technology, and practical experience gained through implementation will be used to further refine elements of integrated safeguards and will make the approach even more effective.

Due in part to increased efforts by the Agency Secretariat and Member States in recent years, an increasing number of States have developed a greater understanding of the importance of strengthened safeguards for nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear security and peaceful nuclear co-operation. In this context, I would like to express my appreciation to the Governments of Australia, Estonia, France, Japan, Kazakhstan, Peru, South Africa and the United States for their active support - through hosting regional seminars, advocating adherence to safeguards agreements and additional protocols in their bilateral and multilateral contacts, and providing financial assistance. Since the last conference in Tokyo, in June 2001, 19 States had their safeguards agreements and/or additional protocols approved by the Board of Governors. But despite this incremental progress, it is disconcerting that 48 States party to the NPT still remain without the required safeguards agreement in force, and that only 28 States have actually brought additional protocols into force. Universality of the strengthened safeguards system is key to its credibility and effectiveness; it is essential that we find ways to encourage all States to conclude and bring these instruments into force as soon as possible.

Compliance by Iraq With Its Obligations Under Security Council Resolutions

The inspection activities in Iraq that came to a halt in December 1998 had successfully thwarted Iraq's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon programme. At that time we were of the belief that we had neutralized Iraq's nuclear weapon programme, and that Iraq no longer had the capability to produce the nuclear material needed for weapons purposes.

As you are aware, the resumption of inspections in Iraq has been the subject of intensive diplomatic effort in the last few months. These efforts have culminated in the acceptance by Iraq of the resumption of inspections without conditions, and in the adoption of Security Council resolution 1441 on 8 November.

The new Security Council resolution, inter alia, affirms the unified resolve of the Council to fully support the inspection process. It grants additional authority to the inspecting organizations - the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the IAEA - in a number of areas, including immediate access to all sites in Iraq without distinction, the right to determine the modalities and locations for interviewing relevant persons, and the ability to freeze activities during the inspection of a site. It also encourages all States to provide timely information to the inspecting organizations that is relevant to their mandate, with a view to improving inspection effectiveness.

The first inspections by the IAEA and UNMOVIC began on 27 November, with the co-operation of Iraq. The inspections so far have been a good beginning, and I hope full co-operation on the part of Iraq will continue throughout the inspection process - both in terms of access to sites and locations and in terms of transparency and presentation of evidence of its compliance with Security Council resolutions. Naturally, the Agency will make every effort to effectively discharge its mandate, with the aim of bringing to full and verified compliance the disarmament process in Iraq.

Compliance by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea With Its Non-Proliferation Obligations

Since 1993, the Agency has been unable to fully implement its comprehensive safeguards agreement with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Due to a lack of access to information and sites, we continue to be unable to verify that the DPRK has made a complete and correct declaration of its nuclear material that is subject to Agency safeguards under its NPT safeguards agreement.

Reports in mid-October suggested that the DPRK has in addition been working on an undeclared programme to enrich uranium. We promptly asked the DPRK to confirm these reports and provide all relevant information. We also expressed the need to discuss, at a senior level, this and all other longstanding issues relevant to the DPRK's compliance with its obligations under the NPT safeguards agreement.

Clearly, the existence of such a programme would be a matter of deep concern to all. Under the DPRK's NPT safeguards agreement, if such an enrichment programme exists, it has to be declared to the Agency and must be subject to safeguards to ensure its peaceful nature. Last month, the Agency Board of Governors adopted a resolution which endorsed the measures that have been taken so far by the Agency Secretariat, and urged the DPRK: (1) to provide all relevant information to the Agency concerning the reported uranium enrichment programme and other relevant nuclear fuel cycle facilities; (2) to accept the proposal for dialogue at a senior level to provide clarification on this matter; and (3) to come into full and prompt compliance with its safeguards agreement. Regrettably, the DPRK has so far decided not to co-operate with the efforts to enable it through dialogue and verification to come into compliance with its non-proliferation obligations. I sincerely hope that the DPRK will re-think its position and avail itself, through constructive interaction with the Agency, of the many good-will offers extended to it with the aim of pursuing peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

Progress Towards Nuclear Disarmament

Finally, I should mention that the strengthening and consolidation of the nuclear non-proliferation regime cannot be divorced from the obligations of the nuclear weapon States under Article VI of the NPT to move toward nuclear disarmament. With the end of the Cold War as an impetus, some progress was made in the early- and mid-1990s, but the process unfortunately slowed in the latter part of the decade. While the START I Treaty, which entered into force in 1994, made significant cuts in the level of deployed strategic weapons, START II, signed in 1993, has been abandoned. Efforts to end nuclear weapons development achieved an important milestone with the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in September 1996, but the pace of progress has been sluggish among the 44 countries whose ratification is required for the treaty to enter into force. Negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) continues to languish in Geneva, more than seven years after agreement was reached on a mandate.

This is not to say that there have been no encouraging signs. Earlier this year, the Russian and US Presidents signed a treaty to further reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1700 and 2200, respectively, by the end of 2012, and agreed to remove additional unspecified amounts of fissile material from military use. And at their June Summit, the G8 Heads of State established a Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, and made a commitment to raise up to $20 billion over the next ten years to fund, inter alia, the disposition of excess weapons origin fissile materials.

While it may be unrealistic to expect complete nuclear disarmament in the very near future, it is essential that incremental steps be taken by all parties, which would signal a willingness to reduce the volume of and dependence on nuclear weapons, in fulfillment of existing commitments.

Conclusion

Our efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons has witnessed steady progress and a number of important milestones. Progress, however, is still required on this and many other fronts, including: the need to work energetically to ensure the universal adherence to safeguards agreements and additional protocols by all the non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT and other non-proliferation agreements; the need for reducing existing nuclear weapon arsenals and adopting concrete steps that move us further towards nuclear disarmament; the need to draw in those States that remain outside the NPT regime; and the need to develop alternativee approaches to regional and international security that are functional and inclusive, and that do not incorporate nuclear deterrence as a feature. Given Japan's unique experience, I can think of no better location in which to emphasize the importance of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. I hope this conference will highlight ways and means to move forward. I wish you every success.