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Statements of the Director General

5 March 2007 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

The items on our meeting agenda relate to nuclear technology, safety and verification - all three of the Agency´s areas of activity. I will discuss a few issues related to each area.

Nuclear Power

You have before you the draft Nuclear Technology Review 2007 and an information document entitled Considerations to Launch a Nuclear Power Programme. The first reports developments in the past year in nuclear power and non-power applications. The second is part of the Agency’s response to these developments.

Current Status and Trends
Nuclear power currently remains on a plateau in terms of installed capacity. Expansion in some regions has been balanced by retirements in others. Eight nuclear power reactors were retired in 2006 (in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom) while two new reactors were connected (in China and India), and construction began on another five (in China, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation).

Expectations for future growth remain high. This is reflected in: the ambitious expansion plans of countries like China, India, Russia and South Africa; more moderate plans in countries such as Argentina, Finland and France; license application work for new plants in the United States; more favourable policies towards nuclear power in several countries with nuclear power programmes; plans for new construction in some newcomer countries, such as Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam; and the announcements by some other countries that they are considering or moving in the direction of a nuclear power programme. This picture contrasts sharply with the nuclear power picture of only a few years ago.

Each year, the International Energy Agency of the OECD publishes an analysis of global energy trends. According to their World Energy Outlook 2006, published last November, if current consumption trends and government policies continue, we will see a 53 per cent increase in global energy consumption by 2030.

Two aspects of this analysis are especially interesting. The first is the expectation that 70 per cent of the coming growth in demand will be from developing countries. The second is that, for the first time, the International Energy Agency stated that the increased use of nuclear power would help to meet the increase in energy demand, enhance the security of energy supply and mitigate carbon emissions.

It is obvious that nuclear energy alone is not a panacea. But from these trends, it seems likely that it will have an increasing role as part of the global energy mix.

Planning for the Introduction of Nuclear Power
For the Agency, one result of this trend is an increase in requests from Member States for guidance and advice. The last technical cooperation cycle produced a substantial increase in requests for IAEA energy assessment and planning services. Through these services, which treat all energy sources equally, we provide energy planning models tailored to each country’s special circumstances. We train local experts to forecast energy demand, to identify least-cost options, and to bring these and other factors together into a national decision making process. To date, we have been able to accommodate all of these requests.

To assist with subsequent steps in nuclear power planning, we have established an inter-departmental nuclear power support group - with participants from across the House - to provide a coordinated, "one-stop" Agency focal point for this assistance. The Secretariat has also produced, with inputs from Member States, the information document before you. It summarizes key considerations from all perspectives (safety, security, infrastructure development, technical cooperation, legal considerations, etc.) for countries contemplating the launch of a nuclear power programme.

INPRO
The Agency´s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) is moving to Phase 2, as agreed by the INPRO Steering Committee. Member States are submitting proposals for Collaborative Projects, to be coordinated by INPRO, related to the development or analysis of specific aspects of innovative reactor systems. As requested by the General Conference, we are also developing common user requirements for small and medium size reactors.

Nuclear Applications

Nuclear applications continue to be used around the world to improve human and animal health, to aid in food production, to manage groundwater more effectively, to protect marine and terrestrial environments and to provide other societal benefits.

Pest Control (Sterile Insect Technique)
This year, for example, with Agency support, the Southern Tsetse Eradication Project in Ethiopia plans to move from the preparatory to the operational phase of applying the sterile insect technique (SIT). Tsetse population suppression activities have been initiated in some areas, in preparation for the first pilot releases of sterile tsetse flies, currently scheduled for the second half of 2007. These suppression activities have already reduced the prevalence of nagana disease in livestock in the treated areas.

Food and Agriculture

The Agency continues to assist Member States in building capacity to produce food crops with improved characteristics. A good example is in Peru, where nine mutant varieties of barley, developed with support from the IAEA, now cover 90 per cent of the barley producing area. These crops are being planted in the Andes in harsh and extreme climatic conditions. Since gaining access to these improved varieties of barley, the Andean population has been experiencing a sustained improvement in food and economic security.

Nuclear Safety and Security

The Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2006 provides an overview of current and emerging nuclear safety trends and issues. Nuclear power plant safety, as well as radiation, waste and transport safety in both power and non-power nuclear activities, has continued to show strong performance worldwide.

As the Review points out, it is essential that plans for new nuclear power development and other uses of nuclear technology are complemented with equally ambitious plans for sustainable safety infrastructures.

Integrated Regulatory Review Service
The newly established Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) is intended to help Member States enhance their legislative and regulatory infrastructures, and to harmonize regulatory approaches in all areas of safety. It will also be one of the most effective feedback tools on the application of Agency standards. The first full scope IRRS was conducted last year in France.

International Conference on Lessons Learned from Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities
In December, a conference was held in Athens to provide a forum to exchange knowledge and good practices on all aspects of decommissioning. The forum highlighted the importance of incorporating insights gained from decommissioning into the design, operation and maintenance of new and existing facilities. Participants stressed the need to improve decommissioning funding and cost estimates, and the advantages of immediate dismantling as a decommissioning strategy.

Denial of Shipments of Radioactive Material
In recent years, the safety record for the transport of radioactive material has been strong. However, denials of shipments of radioactive material continue to occur. The Agency has constituted an International Steering Committee to help address this issue. Two workshops are scheduled for Latin America and Asia in the coming months. They will be focused on sensitizing persons involved in transport operations - from both industry and regulatory bodies - about the need to resolve local problems such as overlapping regulations, perception issues and training needs. In addition, we have used new communication channels to ensure the involvement of the International Maritime Organization in solving particular cases.

Nuclear Verification

Status of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
The nuclear non-proliferation regime continues to face a number of challenges. I remain concerned by the fact that 30 countries have not yet fulfilled their legal obligations under the NPT to conclude and bring into force comprehensive safeguards agreements. I am also concerned by the comparatively slow progress on the conclusion and entry into force of additional protocols. To date, more than 100 countries remain without an additional protocol in force.

As I have stated on many occasions, the Agency can provide no assurance with regard to countries that have no safeguards agreement, and limited assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities with regard to countries that do not have an additional protocol in force.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea
On 23 February I received an invitation from the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to visit the DPRK to "develop the relations between the DPRK and the Agency, as well as to discuss problems of mutual concerns". I have also been notified by China, in its capacity as Chairman of the Six-Party Talks, of the "initial actions for the implementation of the joint statement" adopted in Beijing on 13 February. These actions envisioned, inter alia, the DPRK shutting down and sealing, for the purposes of eventual abandonment, its Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility. It also envisioned the return of IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verification as agreed by the IAEA and the DPRK. I welcome the Beijing agreement, and the invitation to visit the DPRK, as positive steps towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and towards the normalization of the DPRK´s relationship with the Agency. I will report to the Board on developments and any required action.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran
You have before you a report on the implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement and relevant provisions of UN Security Council resolution 1737 in the Islamic Republic of Iran - as well as a report on cooperation between Iran and the Agency in light of this resolution. As you can see from the report before you on verification activities, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, nor its heavy water related projects, as required by the Security Council as a confidence building measure.

As you can also see, we have - pursuant to the Security Council resolution - conducted a review of the Agency’s cooperation with Iran, and made the necessary adjustments to that cooperation. We have also put mechanisms in place to monitor the Agency´s ongoing activities in Iran, to ensure continuing compliance with the resolution.

The Agency has been verifying Iran´s nuclear programme for the past four years, with the aim of providing the required assurances that all nuclear material in Iran has been declared to the Agency and is under safeguards.

The current situation remains somewhat of a stalemate. The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. However, we continue to be unable to reconstruct fully the history of Iran´s nuclear programme and some of its components, because we have not been provided with the necessary level of transparency and cooperation on the part of Iran. We have not seen concrete proof of the diversion of nuclear material, nor the industrial capacity to produce weapon-usable nuclear material, which is an important consideration in assessing the risk. However, quite a few uncertainties still remain about experiments, procurements and other activities relevant to our understanding of the scope and nature of Iran´s programme. This renders the Agency unable to provide the required assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran´s verification case is sui generis. Unlike other verification cases, the IAEA´s confidence about the nature of Iran´s programme has been shaken because of two decades of undeclared activities. This confidence will only be restored when Iran takes the long overdue decision to explain and answer all the Agency´s questions and concerns about its past nuclear activities in an open and transparent manner. Until that time, the Agency will have no option but to reserve its judgment about Iran´s nuclear programme, and as a result the international community will continue to express concern.

The decision by Iran to link its readiness to resolve the Agency´s concerns to actions by the Security Council is difficult to understand. Only through full cooperation with the Agency, as the independent verification body - and irrespective of any progress or lack thereof in its negotiations with other relevant parties - can Iran dispel the doubts about its nuclear programme. Assurance by the Agency about Iran´s nuclear programme will undoubtedly facilitate a solution to the Iranian issue - which would, on the one hand, take full account of Iran´s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and, on the other, provide the necessary level of confidence to the international community about Iran´s nuclear programme and its future direction.

In this context, I earnestly hope that conditions will be created soon for the resumption of negotiations between Iran and all relevant parties. I remain convinced that only through negotiation can a comprehensive and durable solution be attained to the Iranian nuclear question and other issues related to it.

Management Issues

Programme and Budget
At an informal session on 15 February, the Programme and Budget Committee considered the Agency´s Draft Programme and Budget for 2008–2009. In formulating the new programme and budget, we have done considerable re-shaping within programmes, reprioritizing and retiring activities where appropriate, and captured efficiency gains where possible.

We have included, separately, a category of "Essential Investments". These investments are extraordinary, unavoidable expenses needed, inter alia, to shore up the Agency Laboratories´ ageing infrastructure, to purchase special equipment and services for new facilities coming under safeguards, and to enable the Agency´s financial, procurement and other systems to comply with the requirements of best practice international public sector accounting standards (IPSAS), as is now the case with most UN system organizations.

The role of the Agency continues to expand. Member States continue to demand more and better services. We can do more, but we need adequate resources. It is my duty to present you with budget estimates and essential investments that I believe are necessary to effectively carry out the programme you have asked for. I should emphasize that, even with the budget estimate presented to you, the Agency’s ability to perform its responsibilities remains in a precarious state.

Take the example of our Safeguards Analytical Laboratory at Seibersdorf. Particle analysis of environmental samples is one of the cornerstones of modern safeguards. However, the Agency has never had the equipment necessary to perform the most sensitive analyses, but must depend on a few Member States, without the capability to independently validate the results through our own measurements. And for performing particle analysis at "normal sensitivity" levels, our "workhorse" instrument is now some 28 years old and urgently needs to be replaced.

This is only one example among several that I could cite, to demonstrate how critical the financial situation of the Agency has become.

Conclusion

Security and development continue to be among the most daunting challenges facing humanity. The work of the Agency continues to be central to these intertwined challenges. We naturally rely on your support to be able to carry out our mission effectively.

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