Statements of the Director General
26 September 2005 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA General Conference
Statement to the Forty-ninth Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference 2005
by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
Each year the General Conference is a time for reflection, but this year perhaps a little more for me, as I am about to start a new term in office. Today I would like to review how far the Agency has come in recent years, in terms of each of the three pillars of activity that support our mission technology, safety and verification and then to describe what, in my view, should be our vision for the future.
Nuclear Power Technology
Changes in Nuclear Power
Turning first to nuclear technology: over the past few years, we have witnessed a significant change in attitudes towards nuclear power. Fast growing global energy demands, an increased emphasis on the security of energy supply, and the risk of climate change are driving a reconsideration, in many quarters, of the advisability of investment in nuclear power. In addition, sustained improvements in nuclear plant availability and safety performance have made plant operating costs relatively low and stable. This past March, at an international ministerial conference in Paris, participants from 65 countries were upbeat regarding the role of nuclear power in meeting 21st century electricity and energy needs.
With 441 power reactors operating in 30 countries, generating electricity for nearly 1 billion people, nuclear energy presently produces about 16% of the world´s electricity, keeping pace with the steady expansion in the global electricity market. Near term nuclear growth remains centred in Asia and Eastern Europe, which together account for 22 of the 24 units now under construction. The Russian Federation intends to double its nuclear generating capacity by 2020; China plans nearly a six-fold expansion in capacity by the same date; and India anticipates a ten-fold increase by 2022.
Elsewhere, plans remain more modest, but it is clear that nuclear energy is regaining stature as a serious option. When Finland began pouring concrete for Olkiluoto-3 this past June, it was the first new nuclear construction in Western Europe since 1991. France will likely be next, with construction of a European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) at Flamanville scheduled to start in 2007. In the United States of America, 35 nuclear plants have received 20-year licence extensions and 14 more are in the queue, and the Department of Energy (DOE) has approved financial assistance to two industry consortia to test the process for new plant licensing. Some developing countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, are also moving steadily forward with plans for nuclear power investment.
Clearly, not every country shares the view that improved economics and safety performance warrant a nuclear revival, and some nuclear power users such as Germany and Sweden are continuing to phase out their programmes. But it is obvious that nuclear power is re-emerging in a way that few would have predicted just a few years ago.
Advances in Nuclear Innovation
When I addressed you in 2001, the Agency had just established INPRO, our International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles. INPRO´s primary contribution has been to ensure that the future needs of all countries (including developing countries) related to reactor size, economics and infrastructure needs, as well as to safety, security, proliferation resistance and waste management are considered when innovative nuclear systems are evaluated. The INPRO user methodology, revised on the basis of feedback from a variety of test projects, is now being applied in multiple contexts; for example, Argentina is applying the INPRO methodology to evaluate the introduction of nuclear power in a system with limited grid capacity; India is applying it to analyse nuclear systems for hydrogen generation; and China, France, India, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation are applying INPRO methods in a joint study of a closed fuel cycle using fast reactors. With France, Morocco and Ukraine having joined in the past year, INPRO is now 23 members strong.
Other nuclear innovation projects are also progressing. The Generation IV International Forum has selected six innovative nuclear systems for collaborative R&D and is exploring their technical and commercial viability. The Agency has been working to strengthen its cooperation with the Generation IV initiative. A new Agency coordinated research project (CRP) is examining heat transfer behaviour and thermal hydraulic codes, in support of Generation IV´s supercritical water cooled reactor design.
Several innovative and evolutionary approaches are moving towards implementation. Russia has licensed the KLT-40, a 60 megawatt reactor design that can be floated and transported by barge, takes advantage of Russian experience with nuclear powered ice-breakers and submarines, and can also be used for district heating. The Republic of Korea intends to construct by 2008 a one-fifth-scale demonstration plant of its 330 megawatt SMART pressurized water reactor, which will also include a demonstration desalination facility. And South Africa recently approved initial funding for developing a demonstration unit of the 168 megawatt gas cooled Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR), to be commissioned around 2010. Major research initiatives (in China, Europe, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the USA) are also focused on innovative nuclear systems to produce hydrogen for fuel cells that could be used in transportation.
Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities
Progress has been made in the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, with a marked global trend towards immediate dismantlement. Several decommissioning projects have been finalized; for example, the Trojan nuclear power plant in the USA has been fully decommissioned, and the operating licence terminated. The Agency is currently providing decommissioning assistance to 12 Member States, in addition to two regional projects. We envision more requests for Agency support in this area as more Member States plan for future decommissioning projects.
Addressing Waste and Fuel Cycle Issues
Regarding the long term management of spent fuel and high level radioactive waste, efforts towards demonstrating the viability of deep geological repositories continue to make slow but measured progress, with the most advanced projects in Finland, Sweden and the USA. At the same time, the larger volumes of low and intermediate level waste continue to be routinely and safely disposed of in many countries.
For a number of years, I have been advocating the consideration of multilateral approaches to both the front and back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Current non-proliferation and security challenges have made clear that proliferation sensitive operations namely, those related to uranium enrichment and plutonium separation constitute a vulnerability of the existing non-proliferation regime, and have made it only logical that we revisit the concept of multilateral control of such operations.
As you may recall, last year I informed you of my establishment of a group of senior experts to explore options for multilateral control of fuel cycle facilities. In February, the expert group issued its report, and I have been encouraged by the range of supporting initiatives that have followed. The uranium industry and the World Nuclear Association have set up a working group to explore the concept of fuel assurances. The USA has been developing a proposal on providing "reliable access to nuclear fuel", working with principal suppliers, for States that agree to forego independent enrichment and reprocessing facilities. And the Nuclear Threat Initiative is working on a strategy that would help the IAEA set up an actual fuel bank.
In addition, with spent nuclear fuel stored in temporary sites in more than 50 countries, many without the proper geology for underground disposal, multilateral approaches to spent fuel management and disposal could be a solution for the future. In July in Moscow, at an international conference organized by ROSATOM in cooperation with the Agency, considerable discussion took place on possibilities related to multilateral fuel storage and disposal, as well as fuel leasing or even full service nuclear leasing.
I should also note a number of current challenges facing the uranium industry. After a slow period of nearly two decades, characterized by low prices and mine closures, the demand for uranium has taken a sharp upturn due to expanding nuclear power programmes, and uranium prices have more than tripled in the past three years. At a symposium hosted by the Agency in June, participants agreed on the need for new uranium mines and mills, as well as the need for technological advances related to, inter alia, airborne and ground exploration, radiometric ore scanning and sorting, and enhanced equipment for deep underground mining.
Nuclear Knowledge Management
The management of nuclear knowledge has emerged as a growing challenge in recent years, and we have had varied success in addressing different aspects of the problem. Regarding one aspect the preservation of six decades of nuclear science and engineering studies we are making good progress. As one key example, the Agency´s International Nuclear Information System (INIS) has been expanding at a record pace, with over 100 000 bibliographic records and more than 250 000 electronic full text documents added last year alone. Students at 273 universities now have free access to the INIS database, and the system has grown to nearly 1 million authorized users.
A second aspect of knowledge management relates to retaining the benefits of nuclear safety experience sometimes referred to as "maintaining the safety case" at operational reactors. In this area too, we have had some success. The Agency recently participated in a joint assistance mission with WANO (the World Association of Nuclear Operators) at the Krko nuclear plant in Slovenia, focused on helping plant management to systematically capture undocumented information such as the safety and technical insights of retiring workers. Building on a recommendation from that visit, we hope to develop policy guidance on this topic for nuclear power plants, with strategies and procedures based on best industry practices.
Regarding the third aspect of nuclear knowledge management developing the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers we still have much to do. While some countries (such as China and India) are turning out science and engineering graduates at record rates, the same does not hold true for others. The creation of the World Nuclear University (WNU), as a global network of relevant industrial, educational and research institutions, has been a step in the right direction. The insights gained from standardizing the curricula of the European Nuclear Engineering Network are being shared with other such networks and educational institutions. And the first WNU Summer Institute, with considerable Agency support, was held earlier this year, with good results. A workshop last month in Trieste, at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, also focused on best practices in supporting young nuclear professionals. However, we must do much more, in my view, if we are to ensure succession planning for the ageing nuclear workforce and particularly if the projected expansion of nuclear power is to occur.
A major part of the Agency´s scientific and technical work involves the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology in applications related to health, agriculture, water management and preservation of the environment. In sharing these technologies, we have three goals: first, to ensure, through comparative assessments, that the nuclear applications being offered are cost-effective; second, to respond to the needs of our Member States, building up their technical capabilities in a manner that supports their national development priorities; and third, to use partnerships with other organizations to optimize the effectiveness of the nuclear technology offered.
Time does not allow me to refer to the many contributions these nuclear applications have made to social and economic development in recent years. What follows are but a few examples.
Cancer is a major global health concern, and the number of cancer cases is rising most rapidly in developing countries. Access to life-saving radiotherapy is in many areas limited or non-existent; by way of comparison, consider that here in Austria, we have approximately 1 radiotherapy machine for every 270 000 people; whereas in most African countries, the ratio is about 1 machine for every 10 million people, and some countries have no such facilities. Just this year, in visits to Ghana, Albania and Armenia, I have seen first hand the difference the IAEA can make in such countries by providing more and better centres for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The Agency´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) is designed to increase our capacity to assist developing Member States, by mobilizing more resources to address personnel, infrastructure, technology and training needs.
The mobilization of resources from non-governmental institutions is a new venture for the Agency. Our initial efforts have been directed at assembling the needed expertise, and seeking partnerships with key organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and others in the international health sector. I am pleased to note that, earlier this month, I received a letter from the Director General of WHO, welcoming a discussion on the feasibility of developing a joint programme with the IAEA in this area. Addressing the challenge of cancer is an intrinsically multidisciplinary effort; therefore, we seek to build a coordinated, holistic approach that would include all aspects of cancer control, including prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care. Member State support has been crucial in providing PACT with seed money and other assistance.
A quick review of other Agency human health activities illustrates their diversity and range. A doctoral CRP on using nuclear medicine to manage liver cancer is engaging eight PhD candidates to compare the application of new radionuclide methods. Guidelines have been developed for health care practitioners on the control and treatment of cervical cancer and breast cancer. We have worked with Chulalangkorn University in Thailand to develop an Internet based studying and teaching resource for nuclear medicine. A distance learning programme in applied oncology sciences has already been tested, with the English version in distribution this year, and translations into Spanish, French and other languages to follow as needed. Nutrition studies, conducted in conjunction with WHO, are assisting in the ongoing development of food-based strategies for people living with HIV/AIDS. And research is progressing at the Agency´s Laboratories at Seibersdorf on using the sterile insect technique (SIT) against malaria-bearing mosquitoes, with a feasibility study now under way in the Nile region of northern Sudan.
Food and Agriculture
The use of isotopes and radiation in food and agricultural R&D continues to yield rich results. For example, the farmers of Peru have benefited substantially from a partnership spanning nearly three decades between the IAEA and the Universidad Agraria, La Molina, in Lima. Harsh local environments, characterized by depleted saline soils and high altitudes, have traditionally caused many Peruvian crops to fail. Through the use of radiation mutation to create new crop varieties, and the active involvement of local farmers in the breeding process, agricultural productivity and income have been enhanced in these remote regions. A barley variety adapted to high altitudes now accounts for 50% of barley cultivation in the country, and has helped to reclaim what would otherwise be wasteland. And an early maturing variety of dwarf rice, adapted to the Amazonian region, has the potential to generate income for farmers in an area that historically has not supported rice cultivation.
Many other such examples exist. The Agency is collaborating with the Philippines on developing salt tolerant rice varieties; with Zambia to produce finger millet with higher yield; and with Tunisia to breed cactus varieties that can thrive with sparse rainfall and low temperatures. In Central America, we are working with FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the US Department of Agriculture, and the fruit industry to use SIT to develop areas free of fruit flies to support fresh fruit exports. And we have facilitated SIT technology to contain the cactus moth, an exotic invasive species that threatens native ecosystems in Mexico and the southwest region of the USA.
Use of SIT to Eliminate Tsetse Flies
The Agency has been working for years to build capacity in African Member States for applying SIT to create zones free of the tsetse fly. As emphasized in programme audits last year, this is a long term undertaking requiring considerable investment. The Agency coordinates its support through the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) of the African Union.
As one example, we are assisting Ethiopia under the Southern Rift Valley Tsetse Eradication Project. National counterparts, with Agency assistance, are working hard to complete the first two modules of the mass rearing and irradiation facility at Kaliti. Field suppression activities using insecticides, in anticipation of SIT operations, now cover about 80% of the initial target area more than 10 000 square kilometres of the Southern Rift Valley. Positive impacts are therefore already being experienced by local farmers, in terms of enhanced milk and meat production. A loan of $15 million to support this project has been approved by the African Development Bank.
Water Resources Management
Another crucial factor in development is access to safe drinking water a basic necessity unavailable to more than one sixth of the world´s population. With an average of about 70 technical cooperation (TC) projects on isotope hydrology operational for the past six years, Member States have substantially expanded their capacity to map underground aquifers, detect and control pollution, and monitor the safety of dams. This year, for the first time, the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided $1 million for an initiative that, in parallel with a regional TC project, would assist Chad, Egypt, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Sudan in improving their management of the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer one of the world´s largest underground sources of water.
The Agency also supports those Member States interested in using nuclear energy for seawater desalination. Our current focus is on the economic production of potable water using small and medium sized reactors. Japan currently has the most operating experience in nuclear desalination, although on a small scale. Kazakhstan also gained considerable desalination experience, on a larger scale, through 26 years of operating its Aktau fast reactor. India and Pakistan are currently constructing full scale demonstration plants. Five additional countries are active in nuclear desalination R&D, and eight others are conducting related assessments.
Support of Physics Research and Nuclear R&D
The Agency plays an important role in supporting physics research and nuclear R&D worldwide. In the past year, computer servers that mirror the Agency´s nuclear data services have been installed in Mumbai and São Paulo, to facilitate faster regional access to nuclear data. An Agency symposium on the utilization of accelerators was held in Dubrovnik in June, highlighting the latest uses of particle accelerators as tools of fundamental and applied research. Last November, more than 600 scientists covering all major research fields attended the biennial Fusion Energy Conference organized by the Agency in Portugal. And after prolonged debate, a decision was announced this summer that the six nation, $12 billion project to construct the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) would be sited in Cadarache, France.
Nuclear techniques are increasingly being used in environmental applications. For example, electron beams are used to "scrub" the sulphur and nitrogen oxide pollutants released from fossil fuel combustion. Most recently, with Agency assistance, electron beam treatment of flue gases has been successfully demonstrated at a Bulgarian power plant that burns sulphur rich coal. Electron beams and isotopic sources are also being applied more and more to neutralize harmful organisms in sewage sludge and industrial wastewater, to enhance biodegradability before releasing the waste into streams and rivers.
The Agency´s Marine Environment Laboratory in Monaco has become a world leader in the use of radionuclides to track ocean currents as well as in using isotopes to study carbon dioxide sequestration on the ocean´s surface, a process crucial to tracking climate change. The Agency is already engaged in research to understand the El Niño phenomenon, and is working on other techniques related to climate change studies.
This year, UNDP funded the Marine Environment Laboratory´s coordination of an extensive pollution survey of marine sediments from 35 shipwrecks sunk in Iraq´s waterways. Using techniques developed in isotopic applications, a wide range of persistent and toxic pollutants (such as heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons) were screened in numerous sediment samples. The results will help to ensure that salvage operations can be conducted with minimal risk to either humans or the marine environment, which in turn should lead to safe reinstatement of Iraq´s waterways.
The Agency´s terrestrial environmental management programme is now established. The ALMERA network (Analytical Laboratories for Measuring Environmental Radioactivity) has increased just this year by 30 additional laboratories, and now comprises 114 members. This network ensures that the measurements of environmental radioactivity are reliable and comparable worldwide, which is of benefit in setting trading standards, assisting with emergency response measurements, and meeting other national needs. The Agency´s Laboratories at Seibersdorf also provide terrestrial radioecology expertise and analytical capacity on assessments of contaminated sites and environmental impact assessments. A good example is our current assistance on several studies related to environmental contamination at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, to help identify areas hazardous to the local population and also to help initiate remediation measures.
Our laboratories continue to attract scientific visitors, fellows and trainees from all over the world. So far this year, for example, Seibersdorf has welcomed more than 350 scientific visitors from 23 Member States.
Nuclear Safety and Security
The past four years have also been a period of evolution in nuclear safety and security. When I addressed this body four years ago, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management had recently entered into force, I was urging greater participation in the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and a number of Member States were continuing to question whether IAEA safety standards should be accepted internationally. And, as many of you will recall, it was the 2001 General Conference in the week following the terrorist attacks in the USA that issued a resolution calling for a sweeping review of the Agency´s nuclear security programme.
Clearly, progress has been made on many fronts.
Status of International Conventions
Measures to facilitate cooperation among parties to the Early Notification and Assistance Conventions have helped to improve international preparedness for nuclear and radiological emergencies.
The Convention on Nuclear Safety, now with 56 Contracting Parties, is becoming a forum for increasingly substantive discussions on safety issues, with equally increasing Agency involvement and input. The Secretariat has, on request, reported to the Review Meetings on issues identified during Agency safety missions to nuclear power plants. In April, I was pleased to note the strong resolution issued by the 3rd Review Meeting on the use of IAEA safety standards. And with India´s ratification of the Convention earlier this year, every country with operating nuclear power plants is now a party.
Unfortunately, the Joint Convention, which will hold its 2nd Review Meeting next May, still has only 34 Contracting Parties, despite the fact that nearly all countries have radioactive waste, and could benefit from participation. The Secretariat has been working to promote ratification by more countries most recently through meetings held in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Parties to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material met in July and agreed on major changes to strengthen the Convention. These changes make it legally binding for States Parties to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage and transport. They will also provide for expanded cooperation among States on measures to recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, to mitigate the consequences of sabotage, and to prevent and combat related offences. These changes will come into effect once they are ratified by two-thirds of the States Parties. I would urge all Parties to the Convention to take this action as rapidly as possible, and in the meantime to act as if these changes were in force.
I should also note that, in April of this year, the UN General Assembly adopted a new International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. This Convention details offences related to the unlawful possession and use of radioactive material and the unlawful use or damage of nuclear facilities. States Parties are required to criminalize these offences, and to adopt appropriate measures to protect radioactive material, taking the Agency´s recommendations into account. Many governments have also responded to UN Security Council resolution 1540, which, inter alia, called on all States to develop and maintain effective border controls and law enforcement efforts to detect and combat illicit trafficking. The Agency stands ready to assist States in implementing the Convention and resolution 1540, by providing legal and technical advice, training and peer reviews.
Safety Standards and Safety Missions
Another area of progress has been the increasingly broad acceptance of IAEA safety standards as the global reference for protecting people and the environment against nuclear accidents and the harmful effects attributed to radiation exposure. With the assistance of the Commission on Safety Standards, we have worked to raise awareness of Agency safety standards, and to fill the remaining gaps in coverage.
The strong relationship between the Agency´s operational safety standards and its safety review services has been an important element in evaluating and enhancing their effectiveness. Feedback from Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) missions and other safety services are being incorporated into future revisions of the standards. The publication of OSART highlights, and the development of a web site on OSART good practices, have become new mechanisms for sharing technical information and lessons learned. And more countries with developed nuclear programmes are requesting OSART missions; most recently, requests have been received from Belgium, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA. A number of requests have also been made recently for Integrated Regulatory Review Team (IRRT) visits. I would urge all countries to take full advantage of these and other services. I remain convinced that transparency is an essential ingredient of an effective nuclear safety culture.
Research Reactor Utilization, Safety and Security
The effective use, safety and security of research reactors and the management of research reactor fuel have emerged in recent years as major areas of Agency emphasis. Currently, over 274 research reactors are in operation in 56 countries, more than 200 have been shut down, and nearly 170 others have been decommissioned. In recognition of the problems facing many countries in the safe management of these reactors, a Code of Conduct on the Safety of Research Reactors was approved last year, and we have been supporting Member States on implementing it.
Recently, the Agency helped to organize a regional conference on research reactor safety in Latin America. Setting an excellent example of regional support, the conference was followed by a cooperative regional effort to address pressing safety issues at a Peruvian research reactor.
Radiological Protection of Patients
A particular concern in recent years has been the need to improve the radiological protection of patients. Efforts have been focused on improving the radiation safety training of relevant health professionals, who number in the millions. Training packages have been prepared for radiation protection in areas ranging from radiotherapy to cardiology, and the Agency has been working with professional societies to distribute and publicize this training material; for example, we have just granted permission to the International Organization for Medical Physics to place the training packages on its web site. In addition, we have prepared a step-by-step approach for Member States who wish to upgrade their programmes, outlining specific areas of technical assistance the Agency can provide.
Safety of Radioactive Waste Management
After years of work, consensus has recently been reached on the safety requirements for the geological disposal of radioactive waste, and the Board approved the new safety standard last week. The use of this standard and its supporting guidance will facilitate the licensing process for geological disposal facilities.
We are continuing to work on harmonizing approaches and guidance on assessing the safety of disposal facilities for low level radioactive waste. With new facilities under development, and the safety of existing facilities being re-evaluated, many Member States are taking considerable interest in this effort.
The Agency is organizing an international conference on the safety of radioactive waste disposal in Tokyo next week.
Safety of Transport of Radioactive Material
Another area of Member State concern and Agency focus has been the safety of transport of radioactive material. In recent years, we have been working on improving the effectiveness of transport regulations, resolving concerns relating to liability, emergency response capability and transport related communications. In addition, the Secretariat has continued to meet with commercial carriers, regulatory authorities and the modal organizations of the United Nations, to determine how to address the increasing denial of shipments of medical radioactive materials. Based on these efforts, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots´ Associations has published a pamphlet to provide pilots with basic information on the safety of transporting such materials by air.
I am pleased to note that, in July, a group of eight coastal and shipping States met in Vienna to hold informal discussions on transport related communications. I should also note that, based on a request from the Government of Japan, we will be conducting a Transport Safety Assessment Service (TranSAS) mission to Japan in December.
In 2001, after taking note of the conflicting views on the results of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, I called for the creation of a Chernobyl Forum to set the record straight, based on the best scientific analysis, and to stimulate more effective international cooperation on further actions that could help local populations regain control over their own livelihoods.
I am pleased to note that earlier this month, at a conference here in Vienna, a report on "Chernobyl´s Legacy" was issued, based on the extensive work of the Chernobyl Forum. Authoritative documents on the health, environmental and social impacts of the accident were agreed upon, reflecting the consensus achieved among the relevant United Nations agencies and programmes and the Governments of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. A press campaign was undertaken to publicize the report´s conclusions, and the organizations involved are discussing cooperation on new initiatives related to assistance with safe food production and improved health care.
Nuclear Security and Protection Against Nuclear Terrorism
Few areas of Agency activity have undergone such major expansion, in so short a period, as our nuclear security programme over the past four years. The September 2001 General Conference resolution was followed rapidly by the development of a comprehensive nuclear security plan, the establishment of a Nuclear Security Fund to which Member States immediately and generously began contributing, the appointment of a new Advisory Group on Nuclear Security, and a host of bilateral and multilateral assistance efforts to secure radioactive sources, assess the vulnerabilities of nuclear facilities, bolster physical protection, and improve capabilities for detecting illicit activity involving nuclear and radioactive material.
In the intervening four years, the Agency has conducted more than 100 nuclear security field missions. Approximately 1500 individuals from all regions have received Agency training in measures related to preventing nuclear and radiological terrorism. The results of implementing the nuclear security plan are tangible: increased security awareness among responsible national officials; strengthened physical protection at nuclear facilities; recovery and enhanced security for hundreds of high intensity radioactive sources; better cooperation among international law enforcement organizations; enhanced detection capabilities at border crossings; more and better trained personnel; improved preparedness for responding to incidents; and broader participation in the Agency´s Illicit Trafficking Data Base, which serves as a key mechanism for analysis of global and regional trends.
Despite these substantial achievements, participants at the International Conference on Nuclear Security, held in London this past March, were quick to emphasize the need to do more. A new Nuclear Security Plan 20062009, approved by the Board last week, draws on the recommendations of the conference and the insights gained over the past four years. The mechanisms in the new plan are familiar: the development of additional nuclear security guidance; assistance with the application of that guidance; evaluation services; human resource development; and R&D on enhanced security technology. The plan includes a detailed outline of nuclear activities to be carried out over the next four years, subject to the availability of funds.
Of these planned nuclear security activities, the vast majority will be funded from the Nuclear Security Fund, and will therefore be dependent on your continued generous support. With nuclear security clearly established as a core Agency function, I would advocate finding a way to ensure the long term reliability and flexibility of the associated funding.
Regulatory Infrastructures for Radiation Safety and the Control of Radioactive Sources
An issue of recent Agency focus with both security and safety implications is the need to strengthen control of radioactive sources. This past June, in Bordeaux, more than 300 participants from 64 countries came together in an International Conference on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, focused on working towards a global system for continuous control of sources throughout their life cycle. An ongoing Agency priority is to assist countries in implementing the Code of Conduct for the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, which the General Conference endorsed in 2003. Last year´s General Conference also endorsed guidance on the importexport of such sources, and renewed the focus on States´ national regulatory infrastructures for radioactive source control. Missions to assess this infrastructure have been carried out in more than 40 countries over the past year, using relevant Agency standards and the Code of Conduct as the basis for evaluation.
The Agency has made a concerted effort to assist Member States in securing radioactive sources, both in short-notice source recovery missions and as part of more deliberate projects. In 2003, the Agency joined Russia and the USA in a systematic effort to secure vulnerable disused sources with high radioactivity in the Newly Independent States. Russia´s ROSATOM has provided the technical information and expertise for these projects, and the US DOE has formed bilateral arrangements with each country in question to upgrade the physical protection of the relevant facilities. Projects have been completed in Estonia, the Republic of Moldova and Tajikistan, and additional projects in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be completed by the end of this year.
Conversion of HEU to LEU at Research Reactors
To address the security and non-proliferation vulnerabilities associated with high enriched uranium (HEU), the Agency has also been assisting Member States in efforts to convert research reactors from using HEU to LEU fuel, and to return the HEU fuel to the country of origin. With strong support from Russia, the USA and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, seven such transfers of fresh fuel back to Russia have been made since 2002, and we are also continuing to work on arrangements for the repatriation of spent research reactor fuel of Russian origin. And for research reactor fuel of US origin, shipments of spent fuel involving 27 countries have been conducted since 1996.
More than 20 research reactors remain that cannot be converted from using HEU because of the lack of adequate equivalent LEU fuels. A higher density fuel based on uraniummolybdenum (UMo) alloys is required, and the Agency is actively supporting the international effort to develop and qualify this fuel.
In the area of verification, we need only consider a snapshot of the challenges confronting the Agency when we met in 2001 to understand how much has taken place in four short years. I was calling for an opportunity to resume verification activities in Iraq, and hoping to move beyond our minimal inspector presence in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to full verification. And we were looking for concrete steps from nuclear-weapon States to fulfil the "unequivocal commitment" to disarmament they had reiterated at the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
As with other areas of Agency activity, times have changed. We have clearly made progress on some fronts, but perhaps regressed on others. The Agency´s resumption of inspections in Iraq, the termination of inspections in the DPRK, our investigation of clandestine nuclear programmes in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the discovery of illicit nuclear procurement networks and the lack of agreement at the 2005 NPT Review Conference have put the spotlight on an unprecedented array of challenges to the non-proliferation and arms control regime.
The Agency´s verification system has shown great resourcefulness and resiliency in dealing with many of these challenges. We have rapidly initiated intensive verification efforts in a number of countries and investigated the illicit procurement network. We have strengthened the verification system through enhanced use of satellite imagery, environmental sampling and a variety of new technologies as well as through the development of enhanced information analysis techniques, the introduction of integrated safeguards, and the transition towards a more qualitative, information based system. And perhaps most importantly, in dealing with these verification challenges, we have maintained our objectivity and independence, and thereby strengthened our credibility. In short, the past few years have continued to underscore the central importance of the Agency´s role in combating proliferation.
Status of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
The number of States with safeguards agreements and additional protocols has steadily increased. Since last year´s General Conference, NPT safeguards agreements have entered into force for five States, and additional protocols have entered into force for nine States. This makes a total of 71 States with additional protocols in force or provisionally applied.
While these are positive developments, the fact remains that despite the Agency´s extensive outreach programmes, over 100 States including 28 with significant nuclear activities have yet to formally bring additional protocols into force, and more than 35 States party to the NPT have not yet fulfilled their legal obligation to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency.
The Safeguards Implementation Report and Safeguards Statement for 2004
Regarding the Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR) for 2004: for 21 States with both a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol in force or being otherwise applied, the Agency was able to conclude having found no indication of the existence of undeclared nuclear material or activities that all nuclear material had been placed under safeguards and remained in peaceful nuclear activities or was otherwise adequately accounted for. For 131 other States, the Agency was able to reach a more limited conclusion namely, that the nuclear material or other items that had been placed under safeguards remained in peaceful use or were otherwise adequately accounted for.
Four States were found to have been engaged in nuclear activities of varying significance that they had failed to report. Corrective actions are being taken by these States, and verification of the correctness and completeness of their respective declarations is ongoing.
The Secretariat has continued to make it a priority to implement integrated safeguards which involves integrating traditional nuclear material verification activities with new strengthening measures, particularly those of the additional protocol. Two reviews of the safeguards programme, carried out in 20032004 by a panel of external evaluators and by SAGSI (the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation), concluded that integrated safeguards offers the best opportunity for increasing the effectiveness and cost efficiency of verification activities. To date, integrated safeguards are being implemented in nine States including Japan, the country with the largest nuclear programme under safeguards. The implementation of integrated safeguards in Canada the country in which the Agency´s verification effort is the second largest will also follow shortly. We expect to be able to implement integrated safeguards in more States during 2006, as safeguards approaches for these States are finalized and approved.
Small Quantities Protocols
Over the past year, the Secretariat has drawn Member States´ attention to the problems posed by "Small Quantities Protocols" (SQPs) to comprehensive safeguards agreements. For States with SQPs, some of the safeguards measures central to effective nuclear verification are currently held in abeyance including initial reports on nuclear material and the right to conduct inspections. Since February, the Secretariat has been consulting with Member States on this issue, with a view to identifying possible remedies. Last week the Board approved modifications to the standardized text of the SQP and a change to the criteria for an SQP. The Board decided that it would henceforth only approve SQPs based on the revised standard text. The Board also called on the States with existing SQPs to conclude an exchange of letters with the Agency that would give effect to the approved modifications, and to do so as soon as possible.
Verification Activities in Iraq
After an interruption of nearly four years, the Agency resumed verification activities in Iraq in November 2002, following the adoption by the Security Council of resolution 1441. At the time that we ceased our verification activities in March 2003, we had found no indication of Iraq´s revival of prohibited nuclear activities a finding that has since been substantiated.
The Agency´s mandate in Iraq under Security Council resolution 687 and other related resolutions remains in effect. However, given the changes that have taken place in Iraq since that time, and bearing in mind that Iraq continues to fund the Agency´s Iraq Nuclear Verification Office (INVO), I have reduced the INVO staff to a minimum. Security Council resolution 1546, inter alia, reaffirmed the intention of the Council to revisit the mandate of the Agency in Iraq. I would hope that the Council would review this mandate as early as possible.
Implementation of Safeguards in the DPRK
Since 1993, the Agency has been unable to implement fully its NPT safeguards agreement with the DPRK. After an extended period of non-compliance with that agreement, in December 2002 the DPRK asked Agency inspectors to leave the country and, a few weeks later, declared its withdrawal from the NPT. Since that time, the Agency has not been permitted to perform any verification activities in the DPRK, and therefore cannot provide any level of assurance about the DPRK´s nuclear activities.
As I have stated before, the Secretariat remains ready to work with all parties towards a comprehensive settlement that would both address the security needs of the DPRK and provide assurance to the international community that all nuclear activities in the DPRK are exclusively for peaceful purposes. The agreement reached last week in Beijing at the six-party talks after two years of complex negotiations on the principles that should govern a comprehensive settlement, is a significant step forward. It is particularly welcome that the DPRK has expressed its commitment "to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes and [to return], at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards." I note also that "the DPRK stated that it has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The other parties [to the six-party talks] expressed their respect and agreed to discuss, at an appropriate time, the subject of the provision of light water reactor to the DPRK."
Last week the Board expressed the view that a successfully negotiated settlement of this longstanding issue, maintaining the essential verification role of the IAEA, would be a significant accomplishment for international peace and security.
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran
For the past two and a half years, the Agency has been investigating the nature and extent of Iran´s nuclear programme, with a view to assuring ourselves that all past activities have been declared to the Agency, and that all nuclear material and activities in the country are under safeguards. Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material, its processing and its use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such material had been processed and stored.
Since October 2003, however, Iran has made good progress in correcting its past breaches and the Agency has been able to verify certain aspects of Iran´s nuclear programme. As a result, some aspects of that programme such as those related to uranium conversion, laser enrichment, fuel fabrication and heavy water are now being followed up as routine safeguards implementation matters.
Since last November, our verification efforts have focused primarily on two aspects of Iran´s centrifuge enrichment activities. Regarding the first aspect the origin of uranium particle contamination found at various locations in Iran we have made good progress, with the active cooperation of Pakistan. Regarding the second aspect clarifying the chronology of Iran´s centrifuge activities we still have a number of unanswered questions, and have made repeated requests to Iran for additional information and access.
As our report earlier this month made clear, Iran continues to fulfil its obligations under the safeguards agreement and additional protocol by providing timely access to nuclear material, facilities and other locations. This is, however, a special verification case that requires additional transparency measures as a prerequisite for the Agency to be able to reconstruct the history and nature of all aspects of Iran´s past nuclear activities, and to compensate for the confidence deficit created. By promptly responding to these Agency requests, Iran would well serve both its interests and those of the international community. The more thoroughly we are able to clarify all of Iran´s past nuclear activities, the more we will be in a position to understand and confirm the nature of the programme.
As a confidence building measure, the Board has also, in a number of resolutions beginning in December 2003, urged Iran to maintain a voluntary suspension of all its enrichment related and reprocessing activities and has asked the Agency to continue to monitor Iran´s application of this suspension. As reported to the Board earlier this month, Iran has since 8 August been conducting conversion activities at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility, under Agency verification. Other aspects of Iran´s suspension remain intact.
The Board has continued to devote considerable attention to the implementation of Iran´s NPT safeguards agreement. Last week, the Board adopted a resolution that, inter alia, found Iran to be in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement, and urged Iran to implement the transparency measures to which I have referred. I will continue to call on Iran to do its utmost to work with the Agency and the international community, to provide assurance that its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.
Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East
Pursuant to the mandate given to me by the General Conference, I have continued my consultations with the States of the Middle East region on the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East, and on the development of model agreements as a necessary step towards the establishment of a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. However, I regret to say that no progress has been made on either front.
Technical Cooperation Programme
TC Programme Management
The Agency´s technical cooperation programme continues to be a principal mechanism for implementing the Agency´s basic mission "Atoms for Peace" supporting activities related to a host of nuclear technology applications, as well as to safety, security and safeguards activities. We have greatly increased the effectiveness of the TC programme in recent years, by shifting from a technology driven to a needs driven approach, focused on achieving tangible socio-economic benefits in Member States. The current TC Strategy highlights three elements essential for successful delivery of the TC programme: strong government commitment, high quality of TC projects and adequate funding.
We give strong emphasis to tools for effective TC planning. Country programme frameworks are used to stimulate a structured dialogue between the Agency and the Member State, aligning the country´s TC programme with national needs and priorities. Thematic plans draw on the results of field experience to highlight areas in which a nuclear technology could make a significant impact. And we are giving increasing priority to technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC), using local expertise and facilities to enhance the capacity of the programme, an approach that also can help to strengthen the technical and financial self-reliance of Member State institutions.
As more developing countries have become Member States of the Agency, the TC programme has grown substantially in size, complexity and the number of participating Member States. The 2004 TC programme supported national and regional projects in 114 countries and territories, and disbursements totaled over $73 million.
Over the past year, building on the recommendations of a number of reviews and evaluations, we have been putting in place a TC change initiative to improve programme efficiency and effectiveness. We have restructured the TC Department to conform to the four new geographical regions of the TC programme: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Latin America. We are streamlining TC processes and working arrangements for greater efficiency, using a "Programme Cycle Management Framework" to ensure a harmonized approach throughout the TC regions. Information technology has been enhanced to make the programme more accessible and more transparent; Member States have already used the new IT platform to submit more than 500 project concepts.
In just the past four years, nearly $300 million in assistance has been delivered to Member States through the TC programme. The numbers are impressive: during that period, we provided approximately 12 500 experts and lecturers, supported meetings involving nearly 11 000 participants, trained about 6000 fellows and scientific visitors, and provided 624 courses, attended by 8800 students from developing countries.
TC Programme Funding
Funding for the TC programme has been an ongoing challenge, frequently hampered by late or partial payments from many Member States. In recent years, we have used a number of new approaches such as the "rate of attainment" mechanism, the "due account" mechanism, and other measures in an effort to base implementation of the programme on a sound financial footing.
The target for voluntary contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund (TCF) for 2004 was $74.75 million. Total payments towards that target reached approximately $66.5 million, resulting in a rate of attainment of 89%. While this fell just short of the 90% goal set by the Board, it is nonetheless the highest rate achieved since the establishment of this mechanism in 2001. At the same time, a growing number of Member States are participating in cost sharing for TC work, a clear expression of government commitment.
Extrabudgetary resources have continued to be an important source of TC programme income. In 2004, extrabudgetary contributions totalled $10.9 million, enabling funding for about 17% of approved footnote a/ activities.
I would call on all Member States to pay in full and on time their applicable TC contributions, so that funding for the overall TC programme can be assured, sufficient and predictable, and so that we can implement TC programmes as planned for all recipient countries.
Management of the Agency
During my first term of office, from 1997 to 2001, the Secretariat initiated an extensive programme of management reform. A results based approach to programming and budgeting was launched. New offices were established for policy coordination, programme support, internal oversight and nuclear security. A medium term strategy was developed and implemented. Information technology was used to enhance efficiency and streamline internal processes. Annual Senior Management Conferences emphasized a "one-house" approach to management, reviewing the results of past reforms and catalysing new initiatives where needed. And a mandatory management training programme was established.
With this basic "machinery" in place, the past four years have been focused on full implementation of these reforms, searching for areas where greater efficiency could be gained, and fine tuning programmes where necessary. The 20022003 programme and budget was the first full cycle of the results based approach from preparation to implementation to programme performance assessment.
A key achievement also took place in 2003, when after many months of intensive consultations the Board achieved consensus on a "Package Proposal" to ease the Agency´s longstanding budgetary constraints, characterized by nearly 15 years of adherence to a "zero real growth" policy. The increased funding, amounting to a 10.2% increase over four years, has been essential in enabling the Secretariat to address increasing programme priorities.
On one aspect of management reform, the Agency remains unable to capitalize on the successes achieved. Six years have elapsed since the General Conference approved an amendment to Article XIV.A of the Agency´s Statute that would enable biennial budgeting. The amendment must be accepted by two-thirds of our Member States before it enters into force; but despite repeated appeals, to date only 38 Member States have taken that action.
I should note also that the amendment to Article VI, relevant to the expansion of the membership of the Board of Governors, requires acceptance by two-thirds of Member States, but to date has only been ratified by 42.
20062007 Programme and Budget
The Board has recommended the programme for 20062007 and the regular budget appropriations for 2006. The "Package Proposal" was used once again to set the essential budgetary framework for the coming biennium.
Agency Staffing Issues
The Secretariat continues its efforts to ensure that its Professional staff are of the highest standard, while taking into account in accordance with the Statute and relevant General Conference resolutions: the contributions of Member States to the Agency; the importance of recruiting staff from as wide a geographical distribution as possible, including unrepresented and under-represented countries; increasing the number of staff from developing countries; and the need for equality of gender representation in Professional positions. Since 1997, we have progressed from 77 to 98 Member States represented in the Professional staff, and the percentage of staff from developing countries has continued to increase.
The representation of women in the Professional staff has historically been very low and, I should add, has traditionally been a problem for scientific organizations. There is, however, some improvement, in that women now comprise about 20% of the Professional staff. But despite everything the Secretariat has done, there has not been a sufficient increase in the number of well qualified female applicants, which is vital for increasing the share of women staff. Currently, women make up only 11% of the well qualified applicants for scientific and engineering positions. If the Agency is to make real progress towards gender parity in the near term, we need the active support of the Member States to identify more well qualified women. And identifying young women who might be suitable for junior Professional positions, and mobilizing additional resources to that end, would be helpful in the longer term.
Public Outreach and Public Awareness
In my statement to the General Conference in 2001, I called for increased public outreach more effective engagement with the media, non-governmental organizations and opinion leaders to explain the Agency´s contributions in all areas of our work. Little did I realize, at that time, the degree of public exposure we were to receive.
In the four intervening years, the Agency´s public image has been transformed in large part due to emergent non-proliferation issues, but also due to our own successful efforts to raise public awareness of the important work of the Agency. We have substantially stepped up our Internet presence; the "iaea.org" website just last month passed the milestone of ten million hits per month a factor of ten higher than four years ago. We have revitalized our public seminar programme, holding fewer seminars but making them more dynamic and targeting a more focused audience. We have continued a series of public service announcements on television. And we have conducted a series of media campaigns on important topics, including nuclear security, radiotherapy, nuclear power and earlier this month the Chernobyl Forum report.
The results of these efforts have been extraordinary. The IAEA has moved in the public domain from being a relatively unknown agency to a trusted institution that plays a crucial role in both security and development. This has been made possible by the solid professionalism and technological excellence of our staff, and our continued commitment to the basic values that undergird international civil service.
Ideas for the Future
This overview encapsulates the remarkable changes that have occurred on nearly every nuclear front in recent years, and reflects the dynamic nature of our programme in anticipating and responding to change. It also reflects the support that Member States have given the Agency´s programme, support that I trust will continue to be forthcoming. As we look to the future, it is equally important that our vision be clear and ambitious for much remains to be done. I would like to outline a few key points of my own vision for the next four years ways in which, through both our technical cooperation and regular budget programmes, we will continue to seek to meet Member State needs and priorities.
In the area of nuclear power, I would hope in the coming years to focus more explicitly on the theme of "energy for development". I was personally reminded of the current global energy imbalance on a recent trip to Nigeria, where per capita electricity consumption is only about 70 kilowatt-hours per year. That contrasts sharply with, for example, the OECD average of 8000 kilowatt-hours per year. Energy is clearly the fuel for development. This energy shortage in developing countries is a basic impediment to development and to efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger.
In that regard, we should expand the Agency´s capacity to offer energy assessment services, which build Member States´ capacities for national energy analysis and energy planning with respect to all three aspects of sustainable development economic, environmental and social. These services, which treat all energy options equally, are in especially high demand in developing countries and transition economies. The Agency develops and transfers planning models tailored to each country´s special circumstances. We transfer the latest data on technologies, resources and economics. We train local experts. And we help with the analysis of national options for meeting energy demands. IAEA energy planning tools are now used in more than 100 countries around the world.
In addition, the international nuclear community needs to become more creative in developing regional approaches to energy needs. Regional approaches could be useful in addressing many issues that have made nuclear energy impractical for developing countries, including: electrical grid capacity, upfront capital costs, infrastructure and workforce needs, design certification, licensing, operation and maintenance, and perhaps even safety regulation. This approach is consistent with concepts we are already exploring on multilateral control of fuel cycle facilities and brings similar advantages related to safety, security, proliferation resistance and economy of scale.
The Secretariat recognizes that, in addition to ensuring that the technological aspects of nuclear power are fully supported and maintained, the Agency should make more substantial contributions to the so-called "soft aspects", which include: the development of effective management systems; support of institutions; the development of national and regional infrastructures; and the buildup of human resource capabilities.
In the area of radioactive waste management, it is important that we continue to focus on solutions, which should include: progressing steadily towards the construction of deep geological repositories; exploring regional options for waste management and disposal; researching techniques to enable waste retrievability where desired; and developing advanced technologies for waste transmutation and minimization.
Turning to nuclear applications, I would note that a key feature of modern science is its synergy the way, for example, in which advances in fields such as nanotechnology, bioengineering and information technology play off each other for ever greater achievements. Nuclear and radiation based techniques are frequent contributors to that synergy; for example, when electrons and ion beams are used in fabricating precision structures with nanometer dimensions, the materials and methods that result could in turn have promising applications in human health, food production, energy utilization and many other technologies to benefit humankind.
With that in mind, we should continue to seek out new applications in which nuclear technology can offer tangible benefits to society. A recently developed CRP is a good example. The Agency already has expertise in using isotopic tracers to track malnutrition and evaluate nutrition regimens. In the new CRP, the Agency´s joint IAEA/FAO division, working with the International Food Policy Research Institute, is pursuing innovative strategies to combat malnutrition using nutritionally enhanced crop varieties, produced through radiation mutation. As we promote the use of nuclear technology in the service of people, we should continue to look for such synergies.
In other cases, the Agency can benefit from partnerships for strategic or financial reasons. For example, in the cancer treatment effort we are pursuing under PACT, establishing a partnership with WHO has been crucial not only because of the added expertise and cancer prevention emphasis WHO brings, but also because the IAEA is far less known for its health programmes, and a joint IAEAWHO programme would add credibility to the PACT effort as we seek to attract funding from private foundations.
I believe a key to our future success in the transfer of technology a key to ensuring that nuclear applications make the greatest positive impact lies in the Agency´s strengthened efforts to forge effective strategic partnerships with other UN system organizations, international financial institutions and regional organizations, as well as, first and foremost, our Member States.
In the area of safety, the Agency must continue to promote a global nuclear safety regime. While nuclear safety is frequently described as a "national responsibility", the cross-border implications of nuclear risks makes clear that nuclear safety including the safety of nuclear installations, radioactive sources, radioactive waste and materials in transport is also an international concern, and can not be regarded as solely a national responsibility.
In that context, I am pleased to note the growing support for the universal application of IAEA safety standards. As we go forward, we should also press for broader Member State participation in international safety conventions, greater use of IAEA safety reviews, and enhanced coordination among international nuclear safety bodies such as the World Association of Nuclear Operators and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency to ensure that our efforts are complementary and mutually reinforcing, rather than redundant or at odds. And we should continue to strengthen the capability and self-reliance of regional safety assistance networks such as the recently established Asian Nuclear Safety Network and the Ibero-American Radiation Safety Network which focus on promoting the use of international safety standards and the sharing of expertise on a more regional basis.
A related point of emphasis will be to press for increased harmonization in national regulatory approaches, to ensure high quality, independent oversight for nuclear activities. In February, in Moscow, we will hold an International Conference for Senior Regulators the first attempt to bring together in a common forum all senior regulators with oversight in nuclear safety, radiation safety and nuclear security.
In the same spirit, we must improve our performance in fixing the so-called "weak links" in the nuclear safety chain. Since the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, enormous efforts have been made in upgrading reactor safety features, but facilities still exist at which nuclear safety assistance should be made a priority. For such facilities, we should move expeditiously, coordinating with other relevant organizations, to firm up the actions needed, the expected costs, and a strategy and schedule for proceeding.
Our nuclear security assistance efforts to date have been focused, by necessity, on helping States identify and address vulnerabilities, upgrading the physical protection of nuclear facilities, improving national detection and response capabilities, securing high priority radioactive sources and developing standards and guidance.
But as we evolve towards a more mature global nuclear security framework, it is important that we develop a clearer overall picture of remaining security vulnerabilities. For example, we need to improve our understanding of the patterns that characterize illicit trafficking activity, in order to provide Member States with the information needed to effectively combat such activity.
In the area of nuclear verification, I have already outlined a number of the priorities for the coming years: universalizing the additional protocol; expanding the implementation of integrated safeguards; normalizing safeguards in Iraq; bringing the DPRK back to the NPT regime; providing the required assurances about Iran´s nuclear programme; and continuing to investigate the nature and extent of the illicit procurement network.
In addition to these objectives, I remain convinced that a key to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime lies in arresting the dissemination of sensitive fuel cycle activities and the development of a framework for multilateral management of such activities. An urgent first step towards that goal would be to create an international framework for assuring the supply of reactor technology and nuclear fuel for all countries, for use in nuclear energy generation to be followed by a framework for multilateral management.
Within the Agency´s safeguards programme, we must devote the necessary resources to enhance our technical capabilities. This should include improving the independent analytical capabilities of the Agency´s laboratories, as well as developing and applying innovative verification tools, such as the use of noble gas monitoring to detect clandestine nuclear activities. We should also explore the development of mechanisms to encourage better information sharing from States, on exports, procurement inquiries and other safeguards related issues.
I will continue to advocate that all States work towards the elimination of the weapon-usable HEU now in existence, down-blending these stocks to LEU for use in civilian reactors to generate electricity. The manner in which to eliminate plutonium stocks is still an open question whether to burn the plutonium in mixed oxide (MOX) fuel to generate electricity, or to mix it with high level radioactive waste for disposal in a vitrified form but this too is a matter that should be resolved and acted upon with urgency.
Finally, I would call for redoubled efforts to commence negotiation at the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable global treaty to ban the production of material for nuclear weapons referred to as the Fissile Material (Cut-off) Treaty (FMCT). If there is any lesson to be taken from the events of the past four years, it should be that a prerequisite to international security will be taking steps to eliminate both access to and production of material for nuclear weapons.
Clearly, much remains to be done. The lack of any agreement at the NPT Review Conference this past May was extremely disappointing, given the urgent and serious challenges we face. In the same vein, I was dismayed and disturbed by the lack of any agreement yet again on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament at the United Nations World Summit earlier this month. The current challenges to international peace and security, including those related to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms control, cannot be wished away, and will continue to stare us in the face. All States must step up to the plate and pursue, at the highest policy levels, the urgently needed reforms to our global security system of which the non-proliferation and nuclear arms control regime is an essential part. We need a security umbrella that covers all countries, and we must continue to work on both the symptoms and causes of the challenges we face.
In conclusion, I would note one more achievement of recent years: namely, that this meeting our annual General Conference has evolved increasingly into a true agora for ideas that stimulate continued examination of all areas of our mission. In that spirit, I hope you will build this week on the ideas I have just laid out, adding your own constructive ideas for enhancing the Agency´s work. Whether a specific activity contributes to sharing the peaceful applications of nuclear technology, ensuring safety and security in their use, or strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, our commitment is always to respond to your needs and priorities. We remain dependent on your shared commitment, and we rely on your partnership. I look forward to continuing that partnership in the years to come.