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3 March 2008 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

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Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

Our agenda for this meeting includes topics related to all areas of Agency activity - safety and security, technology and verification.

Nuclear Safety and Security

You have before you the draft Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2007. In 2007, the 50th anniversary year of the Agency, the safety performance of the nuclear industry, on the whole, remained high. However, it is essential to maintain vigilance, continuously improve safety culture and enhance the international sharing of experience.

Changes in world markets and technology are having an impact on both the nuclear industry and regulators as never before. A key challenge is to properly assess and address the safety implications of these changes. Member States embarking on nuclear power programmes must be active participants in the global nuclear safety regime. They have to meet the challenge of establishing the technical and regulatory infrastructure as well as building a qualified workforce.

Convention on Nuclear Safety
In April, the Agency will host the 4th review meeting of the Contracting Parties of the Convention on Nuclear Safety. As the Convention has matured, it has become an important part of the global nuclear safety regime. The peer review mechanisms provide important opportunities to make sure we are doing everything possible to improve safety and prevent serious accidents. A number of Member States that are considering nuclear power programmes are not yet parties to the Convention. I urge them to join and to participate fully in the global safety regime.

The review meeting in April will have to consider two important challenges - the number of new nuclear power programmes under consideration around the world and how to bring new momentum and focus to the review process. At the request of contracting parties, the Secretariat prepared an Issues and Trends paper for countries to take into account when preparing their national reports.

Emergency Preparedness
Much progress has been made regarding emergency preparedness in recent years. Even so, many Member States still do not have an adequate level of nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and response capability. Local emergencies involving ionizing radiation continue to occur and the Agency has been assisting Member States in the framework of the Early Notification and Assistance Conventions. However, a major emergency involving ionizing radiation would strain the response systems of most Member States and of the Agency. We need to do more to ensure both are better resourced.

Nuclear Power

The draft Nuclear Technology Review 2008 indicates that rising expectations for nuclear power are starting to translate into increased construction. Expansion and growth prospects remain centred in Asia. In 2007, the Agency´s projections for the future of nuclear power were revised upwards to between 450 and 690 GW(e) of installed nuclear capacity by 2030. The Review also notes major recent consolidations and increased internationalization among the suppliers of nuclear reactor technology. Higher uranium prices helped to prompt new exploration and reassessments and the identified uranium resources reported in this year´s Red Book will be 17% higher than in the last edition.

New reactors were connected to the grid in China, India and Romania. Construction started on seven more, compared to just one to three new starts in each of the last five years. In the USA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued its first three early site permits. It received four licence applications, the first for new plants in nearly 30 years. In the United Kingdom, a policy review concluded that nuclear power had a key role to play in the country´s energy mix and recommended that industry be allowed to build new nuclear plants, subject to normal planning and regulatory requirements.

Alongside the growing interest in the Agency´s energy analysis and planning assistance, which covers all energy options, there is also increased demand for Agency missions to countries interested specifically in starting nuclear power programmes. There have been such missions to seven countries in the last year.

Assurance of Supply
I have been advocating for some time the establishment of a multinational mechanism to assure access for all countries to nuclear fuel and reactor technology, and simultaneously to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. The ultimate goal, in my view, should be to bring sensitive aspects of the fuel cycle under multinational control, so that no one country has the exclusive capability to produce the material for nuclear weapons. I should make it very clear that, under this mechanism, no country would have to forfeit any of its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

A number of Member States are working on proposals. In May 2007, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation established the International Uranium Enrichment Centre in Siberia. In December, Armenia announced it would also join. In addition, the Russian Federation is proposing to make available to the Agency 120 tonnes of low enriched uranium (LEU) as a last resort reserve. Germany is working on a Multilateral Enrichment Sanctuary Project, under which an international enrichment centre would be set up on an extra-territorial basis, to provide LEU and enrichment services.

In addition, I should note that the US Congress has authorized a contribution of $50 million to match the $50 million offered by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in September 2006 to set up a fuel bank of last resort under IAEA auspices. Another $50 million is needed to move this project forward. During my visit to Oslo last week, Norway pledged $5 million towards the establishment of the fuel bank.

I expect that Member States will ask the Board to consider their respective proposals once these are fully developed. I will also ask for Board consideration when the necessary funds to establish an IAEA fuel bank become available.

Nuclear Applications

FAO/IAEA Joint Division
The FAO/IAEA Partnership has since 1964 been a successful example of collaboration within the United Nations system, assisting Member States in fostering the application of nuclear science and technologies in food and agriculture in order to reduce hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. As you can see from the Secretariat report before you, the FAO management has served notice, subject to FAO Member State approval, of its intention to terminate the Joint Division as part of its reform process.

I believe that termination of the current arrangements would have significantly negative consequences for developing Member States in areas such as animal disease and insect pest eradication, land and water management, plant breeding, food safety and trade. I hope that your countries´ representatives at the FAO will underline the importance of maintaining this valuable partnership.

PACT
Since March 2007, the Agency´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) has secured pledges, grants and donations amounting to over $3 million for the PACT Model Demonstration Sites and other activities. In addition, the OPEC Fund in December approved a low interest loan of $7.5 million for Ghana to expand and upgrade its cancer care, based on an assessment by the Agency and its partners. This represents significant recognition by a non-traditional donor of the value of the Agency´s contribution to cancer control in the developing world through PACT.

Offers to collaborate with PACT have been received from over 20 Member States, with cancer treatment institutions making their hospitals and educational centres available to support PACT. Model Demonstration Sites are now operational in Albania, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, the United Republic of Tanzania, Vietnam and Yemen.

Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Implementation of Safeguards in the DPRK
The Agency, at the request of the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been verifying and monitoring the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities since July 2007.

The Agency, however, has not been requested to undertake the disablement of these facilities. We therefore cannot update you on progress made. The Agency was only able to observe and document the disabling work while conducting facility monitoring activities. Just over one fifth of the spent fuel rods from the 5 MW(e) Experimental Nuclear Power Plant have been measured by the Agency upon discharge. These fuel rods, as well as the four fifths remaining in the reactor core, are under Agency containment and surveillance. The nuclear material which has been generated during the disabling activities at the Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Plant also remains under Agency containment and surveillance.

As I mentioned in my statement of 9 July 2007, the funds needed to implement the ad hoc monitoring and verification arrangement in the DPRK were not foreseen in the Agency´s budget.

The arrangement, which was authorized by the Board of Governors, is therefore being implemented using voluntary contributions from two Member States. This funding will run out in June. I expect that money will be made available if the Agency is to continue carrying out the mandate from the Board. This is a clear example of the need for an Agency contingency fund to allow us to respond effectively in such critical unforeseen situations.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran
You have before you my report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007) in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I trust the Security Council will take its findings and conclusions into account during its current deliberations. As you will recall, the Agency learned in 2003 through its inspection activities that Iran had been conducting undeclared nuclear experiments and activities for almost two decades. That created a confidence deficit on the part of the international community. It also left the Agency with the daunting task of having to reconstruct a history of almost two decades of undeclared experiments and other activities. The key issue was to establish the scope and nature of the enrichment programme, which was the most advanced of Iran´s sensitive nuclear activities at that time and which led to the referral of Iran´s nuclear programme to the Security Council.

For around two years, Iran agreed to apply the provisions of the Additional Protocol, which helped to provide clarity about some of its nuclear activities. However, Iran´s announcement that it would cease implementing the Additional Protocol after the matter was referred to the Security Council made the task of the Agency much more complex, with regard to verifying both Iran´s past and present activities.

Last August, Iran agreed to a work plan with the Secretariat to clarify all remaining outstanding issues about its past activities and, to that end, to apply the necessary transparency measures required by the Agency. As a result, the Agency was able, as I reported to you in November, to clarify important outstanding issues regarding the scope and nature of Iran´s declared enrichment programme - the acquisition of P-1 and P-2 centrifuge technologies.

As you can see from the present report, the Agency has since then been able to clarify all but one of the remaining outstanding issues, as identified in the work plan, relevant to Iran´s past activities. Although we continue to seek corroboration of our findings and to verify the completeness of Iran´s declarations, the Agency´s technical judgment is that these issues are no longer outstanding at this stage. This is obviously encouraging.

However, the one outstanding issue that is relevant to Iran´s past activities is the so-called alleged studies involving possible weaponization activities. These alleged studies, which are among the issues which the Security Council directed the Agency to clarify, came to the Agency´s attention in 2005.

After a period during which Iran was reluctant to fully discuss this issue, Iran finally agreed in the work plan to address it. Iran continues to maintain that these alleged studies either relate to conventional weapons only, or are fabricated. However, a full-fledged examination of this issue has yet to take place. The Agency has shared technical information with Iran on all allegations since 2005, and showed Iran actual documentation on the alleged Green Salt Project in 2006. However, the Agency was authorised only as recently as early February 2008 to show Iran actual documentation on the alleged high explosive studies, and only in mid-February 2008 to show Iran the documentation and material relevant to the alleged missile re-entry vehicle.

The Agency will follow the required due process in continuing to clarify both the authenticity of the documentation related to the alleged studies, to the extent possible, and the substantive matters concerned. I should add, however, that the Agency has not detected the use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies, nor does it have credible information in this regard. I urge Iran to be as active and as cooperative as possible in working with the Agency to clarify this matter of serious concern. This is necessary to enable the Agency to make a determination about the nature and scope of all of Iran´s past nuclear activities.

With respect to Iran´s present nuclear activities, although Iran has not agreed to implement the Additional Protocol as required by the Security Council, it has agreed to provide certain information to which the Agency would have been entitled under the Protocol, in particular with regard to R&D work on enrichment and laser activities.

As stated in the report, the Agency needs Iran to implement fully the Additional Protocol on a comprehensive and sustained basis to enable the Agency to start making progress - once the alleged studies have been clarified - in providing assurances about the nature of Iran´s current nuclear activities and in confirming the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. Assurances by the Agency about the past and present nuclear activities are key to the process of restoring confidence in the nature of Iran´s nuclear programme.

As the Board is aware, and contrary to the call by the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities and continues with R&D on more efficient centrifuges. This is regrettable. I should note, in this regard, that the Agency has not observed any increase in the number of centrifuges in operation since I reported to you last November and that the level of feed is well below capacity.

I continue to call upon Iran to work with the Security Council to meet its requirements for building the necessary confidence about Iran´s future nuclear activities. Building confidence in the future is a matter that goes beyond inspection. To that end, I hope that conditions will be created at the earliest possible date for a resumption of negotiations between Iran and the relevant parties.

As the Security Council made clear, the goal should be a comprehensive agreement "for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran´s nuclear programme." This cooperation would include regional security, trade and investment, civil aviation, energy, telecommunications and agriculture. It is my belief that only through negotiations can confidence be created and a comprehensive and durable solution to the Iran question achieved. This would be good for Iran, good for the region and good for the world.

Commission of Eminent Persons

You have received a background report entitled 20/20 Vision for the Future which I prepared to assist the Commission of Eminent Persons in considering their recommendations on the future of the Agency. The Commission held its first meeting in Vienna last week and will meet again in April. I expect to present its recommendations to the June Board.

I am grateful to the distinguished panel members for agreeing to serve. Their recommendations are intended to trigger discussion among Member States about how the Agency can best contribute in the years ahead to the efforts of the international community to achieve development, peace and security.

AIPS
An Agency-wide Information System for Programme Support (AIPS) is critical for increasing efficiency and effectiveness in programme delivery. Implementation of AIPS would yield economies of the order of €6 million, streamlining and modernizing our business processes in line with best practices and making us better able to serve the needs of Member States. It is critical to the prudent management of the Agency to launch the AIPS project in early 2008 so we can maximize the synergy between AIPS and International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and comply with the decision taken by you during the 2007 June Board to implement IPSAS by 2010.

I am encouraged that many of you have voiced strong support for the AIPS project. A few Member States have already contributed and more are considering doing so. However, only €1.4 million of extra-budgetary contributions has been officially pledged to date. This amount will not be enough to initiate the project as the first phase alone, addressing finance and procurement (including the introduction of IPSAS), would cost approximately €10 million.

A number of Member States have urged the Secretariat to identify funds within the existing budget which could be contributed to this effort. The Secretariat constantly pursues maximum efficiency in its operations and will make every effort to do so.

However, we cannot find the more than €8 million needed to get AIPS started through savings. If sufficient extra-budgetary funds are not forthcoming soon, the future of these two important projects - AIPS and IPSAS - will be in jeopardy.

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