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14 September 2009 | Vienna, Austria
Fifty-Third Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference 2009

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Looking to the Future

by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

» Abridged Version

When I look back at my first statement to the General Conference as Director General in 1998, I am proud that the IAEA has made considerable progress in many areas, from improving access to energy, food and water for people in need, to helping to enhance the safety and security of nuclear materials and facilities. But I am troubled that so many of the issues I raised back then are still with us today - nuclear verification in the DPRK, the lack of any significant progress in nuclear disarmament and the perennial problems of inadequate Agency funding and legal authority.

We have seen public attitudes to nuclear power, which were sceptical if not openly hostile in the 1990s, move towards increasing acceptance. The world changed dramatically after the atrocities of September 11, 2001. The Agency responded swiftly, building a significant nuclear security programme which has helped to reduce the likelihood of extremist groups getting hold of nuclear or radioactive material. We have had to respond to the uncovering of a sophisticated covert network dealing in sensitive nuclear technology, which made it alarmingly easy to acquire nuclear weapons knowledge and technology. Nine states now possess nuclear weapons and there are a growing number of "nuclear weapons capable" countries which, because of their mastery of uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing, could manufacture nuclear weapons within a few months if their security perceptions change. A major cause for regret was the fact that, despite the Agency and the United Nations providing impartial and factual information that pointed to the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a war was launched against that country, with tragic consequences.

Back in the 1990s, some world leaders used to stumble over the letters "IAEA" because they were unfamiliar. Now, we have become a household name. The Agency´s public website, which was receiving one million "hits" per month, now receives nearly 15 million. The ultimate recognition of our work, of course, came with the award of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Agency has a proud story to tell when it comes to efficiency. The UN Secretary General´s High Level Panel described the Agency in 2004 as an "extraordinary bargain." The staff of this organization can take pride in their achievements. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to work with them.

I will use my last General Conference speech to take stock of what has been achieved in the past 12 years, to consider what lessons we need to learn and to offer my perspective on the challenges that lie ahead.

Nuclear Power

Let me start with nuclear power. When I addressed the General Conference in 1998, nuclear power had stopped growing in Western Europe and North America. The outlook was quite uncertain in other parts of the world. The Chernobyl accident was still fresh in people´s memories. Public opinion associated nuclear power with the possibility of a major disaster and worries about the disposal of radioactive waste. Today, by contrast, the world seems set for a significant expansion in the use of nuclear power, with scores of countries having told the Agency that they are interested in introducing it. Not surprisingly, most of these are from the developing world, where annual electricity consumption per capita can be as low as 50 kWh compared with an average of 8,600 kWh in OECD countries. Energy is the engine of development and development is life. For many countries, nuclear power, with its good performance and safety record, is a way to meet their surging demand for energy, reduce their vulnerability to fluctuations in the cost of fossil fuels and combat climate change.

The Agency is not a lobbyist for nuclear power. Our role is to provide objective, comparative information. If a country makes the decision to add nuclear power to its energy mix, we work to ensure that it is done effectively, in the safest and most secure manner and exclusively for peaceful purposes. Because of our expertise and impartiality, countries considering the introduction of nuclear power seek the IAEA´s assistance in analyzing their options and choosing the best energy mix. We impress upon potential newcomers the need to plan properly, to build the required human resources and infrastructure and to adhere to international safety, security and non-proliferation norms.

A considerable expansion in the number of nuclear power reactors throughout the world will create extra work for the Agency. We will have to do some new things and to do some things in new ways. For example, the Agency could take on a stronger role in helping newcomers to build their nuclear infrastructure, providing quality assurance and impartial advice. We have already adjusted our priorities to focus more on the nuclear power programmes of newcomers.

Countries need to be aware that building infrastructure - both technological and regulatory - and cultivating home-grown nuclear expertise takes considerable time. Not everything can be outsourced, especially not national responsibility for safety, security and safeguards. To that end, the Agency developed "milestones" to guide member states as they embark on a nuclear power programme. In the coming years, the Agency needs to develop new ways of helping small and medium-sized countries to take advantage of economies of scale and shared infrastructure and make maximum use of limited pools of expertise. The proposed collaboration in the Baltic region on a new power plant is one example. To meet the extra demand for our services, the Agency should be investing now in people, systems and technology.

Nuclear Applications

I will now turn to other aspects of the development side of our mandate - making nuclear techniques available to developing countries to help them meet the basic needs of their peoples. The Agency is the principal vehicle for multilateral nuclear technology transfer. When I addressed the General Conference in 1998, the size of the Agency´s Technical Cooperation Programme was modest at around $80 million per year. Ten years later, in 2008, the programme disbursed $96 million - still disappointingly modest, especially considering the growth in Agency membership in that period from 127 countries to the present 150, and the increasing development needs of Member States. Through both the regular budget programme and the TC programme, the Agency does valuable work in enabling countries to use nuclear techniques in food and agriculture, human health, water resources and the environment. We created the Programme Cycle Management Framework to move ownership of TC projects to Member States and away from the Secretariat. But demand for our help greatly exceeds our ability to provide it. We can and should do much more, but that requires a dramatic increase in funding which regrettably has not been made available to us.

I believe this is short-sighted. We should all concentrate on delivering assistance where we can, to help provide energy for development, feed the hungry and heal the sick. We should also recognise the link between the security which we all seek and development. Without security, there can be no development - the reverse is also true. Improving life for the two billion people - one third of humanity - who live on less than $2 per day is not just the right thing to do morally; it is also the smart thing to do. By helping to address the root causes of instability and insecurity, including poverty, poor governance and endemic conflicts, we make it less likely that countries will feel the temptation to seek weapons of mass destruction. I am not suggesting that poverty, poor governance and conflict are the only factors which drive countries to seek nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we continue to live in a world which sees nuclear weapons as a means to enhance security and prestige. But the factors I have mentioned are undoubtedly part of the problem and addressing them must be part of the solution.

It has been an uphill battle to get more developed Member States to recognize the importance of the Agency´s development activities, and accept the need to fund them adequately. This should not be perceived as an act of largesse, but a commitment to development. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to make our assistance as effective as possible. Recognising that we are a specialized player in areas such as food and health, but with valuable contributions to make, we are building on our partnerships with the FAO, WHO and other UN organisations, and establishing new links with regional organizations and NGOs. We are concentrating on fewer projects, but trying to ensure that they are in line with Member States´ priorities and that they really make a difference. We are reducing our focus on activities such as supplying equipment - important though that is - and moving more towards helping countries to build their own resources and capacity so they can use nuclear techniques more effectively themselves. This is an area where the Agency clearly has a comparative advantage.

With improved nuclear capacities in many developing Member States, the Agency is also transferring activities to regional IAEA Collaborating Centres and concentrating on networking and quality assurance. We are finalising a study on whether the Agency should establish regional offices to bring us closer to Member States. A second study is assessing the comparative advantage of nuclear techniques in relation to new emerging technologies.

This will guide us to those areas where nuclear can have the most impact.

One project dear to my heart is our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy, an innovative effort to bring our radiation medicine activities into comprehensive national and regional cancer control programmes. The incidence of cancer is increasing dramatically in developing countries. Their need is great. Twenty-seven of the 53 countries in Africa, for example, have no operating radiotherapy services at all: no prevention, no screening, no early diagnosis, no palliative care programmes. In parts of Africa, there is one radiotherapy machine for every 70 million people. In Europe, there is one machine for every 250,000 people. I sincerely hope that PACT will attract more governmental and non-governmental donors to help save millions of lives.

Our technical cooperation activities have made a significant difference over the past decade. Let me single out just two examples: our support to Member States in the use of nuclear technologies to improve crops, and our assistance in understanding and managing water resources. Induced mutations in a range of crops using nuclear techniques have produced salt-tolerant rice and improved cotton and drought-resistant wheat. These improved crops make a real difference to human well-being, providing better nutrition and greater food security and increasing economic prospects for farmers.

Isotope data also provide a unique tool to determine the availability and vulnerability of groundwater systems over the long term, so that reliable supplies can be developed not just for next year, but for the next generation.

Nuclear Verification

The global non-proliferation landscape has changed radically in the last two decades. In response, the way in which the Agency implements safeguards has undergone a metamorphosis. We have moved beyond simple verification of declared nuclear material at declared facilities to assessing information on a State´s entire nuclear programme and, most importantly, verifying the absence of undeclared activities. The Model Additional Protocol, which was approved in 1997, has become an essential verification tool. We are now implementing the more efficient and effective "integrated safeguards" in more than 40 countries with both comprehensive safeguards agreements and additional protocols in force. Likewise, within the limited resources and capabilities available to us, we have made increasing use of advanced technology critical to verification today such as remote monitoring, environmental sampling and satellite imagery.

My colleagues can take pride in what they have achieved. However, I should make it very clear that our ability to detect possible clandestine nuclear material and activities depends on the extent to which we are given the necessary legal authority, technology and resources. Regrettably, we face continuing major shortcomings in all three areas, which, if not addressed, could put the entire non-proliferation regime at risk.

As far as our legal authority is concerned, the hope I expressed to the General Conference in 1998 that all States would have concluded safeguards agreements and an additional protocol by 2000 now looks wildly optimistic. Today, there are still 25 NPT non-nuclear-weapon States without comprehensive safeguards agreements in force, which means the Agency cannot draw any non-proliferation conclusions for these countries. There are 73 countries with comprehensive safeguards agreements, but no additional protocols in force. For these countries, our ability to detect possible undeclared activities is severely limited. Universal adherence by all non-nuclear-weapon States to comprehensive safeguards agreements and additional protocols is a prerequisite for an effective verification and non-proliferation system. I should also add that, although the Agency´s verification mandate is centred on nuclear material, to preclude the possibility of undeclared nuclear material and activities in a country, it may be necessary for us to pursue alleged weaponization activities. This is an area where the Agency´s authority and expertise are quite limited, which means we are often unable to provide the required assurances. If the Agency is to be expected to look into possible weaponization activities, it needs to be empowered with the corresponding legal authority and resources to develop the necessary expertise.

Our credibility depends on our independence. It is vital that we have state-of-the-art technology so that, for example, we can independently validate environmental sampling analyses. Yet, in some cases, we remain dependent on less than a handful of laboratories in a small number of States because our own Safeguards Analytical Laboratory lacks the most up-to-date equipment. Work to refurbish the Seibersdorf laboratories is underway, but we remain considerably short of the funding target for this key project. For satellite imagery, we depend on commercial providers in a number of countries. But occasionally, at critical moments, key satellite images have been inexplicably unavailable. The burden on our safeguards staff is growing steadily, along with the number of facilities they have to inspect. Continuing with budgets that fall far short of our essential needs in the coming years is not a viable option.

Back in 1998, the two main countries on the proliferation radar were Iraq and the DPRK. As you will recall, I reported to the Security Council two months before the Iraq war that the Agency "had found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons programme." I asked for a few more months as a "valuable investment in peace" to let us complete our verification work. Unfortunately, the Agency´s assessment, and that of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, were ignored and a war was waged, which has cost the lives of possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It gives me no consolation that the Agency´s findings were subsequently vindicated.

In the case of the DPRK, the Agency sounded the alarm and reported the country to the Security Council for non-compliance with its non-proliferation obligations as far back as 1993. Sixteen years later, the DPRK has moved from the possession of undeclared plutonium to acquiring nuclear weapons. The on-again, off-again nature of the dialogue between the DPRK and the international community has stymied the resolution of this issue. In my view, the DPRK is a glaring example of the fragility and shortcomings of the non proliferation regime.

Important lessons need to be learned from Iraq and the DPRK. The first is that we must let diplomacy and thorough verification take their course, however lengthy and tiresome the process might be. We need to carefully assess the veracity of intelligence information so as not to let verification turn into a witch hunt. We must keep open the channels of communication with those with whom we have issues that need to be resolved rather than seeking to isolate them. We must act within the framework of international institutions - in this case, the IAEA and the Security Council - and empower them, rather than bypass them through unilateral action. We must give the Agency the legal authority and resources to implement a credible verification system and then trust in the validity, objectivity and impartiality of its assessments and conclusions. The Agency, for its part, should not jump the gun and must not understate or overstate the case in making its assessments. It must draw conclusions justified by the facts only and not be influenced by political considerations. Force should never be used unless every other option has been exhausted, and then only within the bounds of international law, as codified in the United Nations Charter.

The Agency cannot do its work in isolation. It depends on a supportive political process, with the Security Council at its core. The Council needs to develop a comprehensive compliance mechanism that does not rely only on sanctions, which too often hurt the vulnerable and the innocent. More importantly, it must focus more on conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacemaking, and address the insecurities that lie behind many cases of proliferation, such as mistrust and conflict. As we - hopefully - move towards nuclear disarmament, states should expand and strengthen the Agency´s verification mandate. Robust verification and transparency are a prerequisite for nuclear disarmament and other arms control measures.

The Agency faced strong criticism from some quarters in 2005 for our refusal to declare that Iran was engaged in an ongoing nuclear weapons programme. We were told that we had lost credibility. In fact, important intelligence agencies later claimed that Iran had been pursuing covert weapons-related studies that did not involve nuclear material, but that these had stopped in 2003. I believe that, by sticking to the facts and refusing to bow to pressure during this time of high tension, the Agency made an important contribution to maintaining international peace and security.

Six years have passed since Iran was reported to the Board of Governors for failing to declare material and activities to the Agency, in violation of its safeguards agreement. Throughout this period, as a result of difficult and painstaking work, the Agency acquired a better understanding of Iran´s civil nuclear programme. Nevertheless, a number of questions and allegations that cast doubt on the peaceful nature of that programme are still outstanding. If we are to restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, Iran needs to engage substantively with the Agency to clarify these issues, especially the difficult and important questions regarding the authenticity of information relating to alleged weaponization studies. I call on those who provided the information to enable the Agency to share with Iran as much information as possible to assist the Agency in moving forward with the verification process. It is also essential that Iran implement the Additional Protocol so the Agency is able to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

Addressing the concerns of the international community about Iran´s future intentions is primarily a matter of confidence-building, which can only be achieved through dialogue. I therefore welcome the offer of the US to initiate a dialogue with Iran, without preconditions and on the basis of mutual respect. It is my hope that such a dialogue will begin as soon as possible.

One of my preoccupations as I reflect on the future of Agency safeguards is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to call on non-nuclear-weapon states to renounce such weapons in perpetuity and accept new measures to strengthen non-proliferation if nuclear-weapon States continue to modernise their nuclear arsenals and almost glorify them. A case in point is NATO´s current Strategic Concept, which says the purpose of the Alliance´s nuclear weapons is "to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war." NATO´s strategic nuclear forces are "the supreme guarantee" of the security of the Allies since "conventional forces alone cannot ensure credible deterrence". In order to be sustainable, the non-proliferation regime has to be based on fairness and equity. It is simple: how can you convince someone not to smoke while you have a cigarette dangling from your lips? As President Obama pointed out in his landmark Prague speech, serious nuclear disarmament is essential if the nuclear-weapon States are to have the moral authority to deal with the challenges facing the non-proliferation regime.

There were times in the past 12 years when I felt like one of a few lonely voices calling for nuclear disarmament, not least when I started to see the non-proliferation regime losing some of its legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion, most notably in the Middle East. Fortunately, after two largely lost decades since the end of the Cold War, the tide now seems to be turning. This primarily reflects a realization that, with the technology out of the box and an increasing risk of terrorism, the danger of nuclear weapons being used has increased considerably. The recent commitment by Presidents Medvedev and Obama to cut their countries´ nuclear arsenals by as much as a third is very encouraging. There is a real prospect of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty finally coming into force. And the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva has at last agreed to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

Nevertheless, we should continue to ask the simple, yet profound, question Nelson Mandela once put to those who justify what he called "these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction." His question was: "Why do they need them anyway?" It is my earnest hope that, by the time of next year´s NPT Review Conference, we will witness meaningful steps towards the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Assurance of Supply

In 2003, I expressed my belief that the fuel cycle could prove to be the Achilles Heel of the non-proliferation regime and raised the idea of putting the fuel cycle under multinational control. I recently put proposals before the Board of Governors to establish a low enriched uranium (LEU) bank, and an LEU reserve in Russia, under Agency auspices. These would be physical stocks of LEU at the disposal of the Agency as a last-resort reserve for countries with nuclear power programmes that face a supply disruption for non-commercial reasons. The aim is to give countries confidence that they can count on supplies of fuel to run their nuclear power plants and do not necessarily have to develop their own fuel cycle facilities. However, no country, under such proposals, would have to give up any of its rights under the NPT, including the right to develop its own fuel cycle. It should be clear by now that any mechanism that smacks of inequality or dependency will never get off the ground.

A number of ideas and proposals have been put forward. The Secretariat is consulting with Member States and I hope an effective mechanism will be agreed upon by the Agency in the near future. There are no technical or legal stumbling blocks that could not be overcome. The basic question is one of building trust between Member States. I remain convinced that some such mechanism is essential and urgent as more and more countries introduce nuclear energy. Our ultimate goal should continue to be the full multinationalization of the sensitive parts of the fuel cycle to guarantee supply of nuclear fuel and consolidate our efforts to move to a world free of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Turning to nuclear safety, the Agency was proud last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IAEA Safety Standards programme. Our safety standards have become the global benchmark and have recently been adopted by the European Union. Nuclear safety has improved significantly since the shock of Chernobyl in 1986, but the risk of accidents can never be eliminated completely. In some countries we still see a troubling combination of old reactors and weak regulators.

It is in all our interests to ensure that the highest safety standards are upheld everywhere. Most of our safety work is accomplished through norm setting, peer reviews, advisory services and support for capacity-building in Member States. Integrated Regulatory Review Service missions have been helping to improve regulatory effectiveness since 2006 and Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) missions have conducted more than 150 reviews since 1982, visiting nearly every major type of nuclear reactor. The Agency´s peer review missions have proven of immense value. I would like to see the safety standards and regular peer review missions accepted by all countries and, ideally, made binding. We must also work to close the remaining gaps in the coverage of international conventions and codes of conduct, including those relevant to nuclear liability.

The Agency is responding to increased interest in decommissioning and waste management, both from countries retiring old nuclear facilities and from those already anticipating the full life cycle of nuclear power. We continue to expand our expert networks, in which countries relatively new to decommissioning and waste problems can learn directly from those with experience. It is encouraging to see the progress being made in Sweden, Finland and France in developing deep geological repositories for nuclear waste. But the general public will continue to be sceptical about high level waste management until they see waste repositories in actual operation.

The Agency´s activities in nuclear security date back to the 1970s, when we began a modest programme that provided training courses on the physical protection of nuclear materials. After the 9/11 attacks, however, it became clear that more needed to be done urgently, and the Agency initiated a comprehensive programme to combat the risk of nuclear terrorism. It was recognised that efforts could not be limited to nuclear material, but should also cover radioactive sources which could be used in so-called "dirty bombs" to disperse radioactivity in the environment.

I am proud of the speed and efficiency with which the Agency has turned a small programme, with a budget of a quarter of a million dollars per year, into a major asset for Member States, which has provided $50 million in equipment, training and other assistance in the last three years. But it is disconcerting that nuclear security continues to be funded almost entirely from voluntary contributions, which come with many conditions attached and are both insufficient and unpredictable. The gravest threat faced by the world is of an extremist group getting hold of nuclear weapons or materials. The Agency´s nuclear security programme has made a significant contribution to making the world a safer place, but much more needs to be done. The number of incidents of illicit trafficking and other unauthorised activities reported to our Illicit Trafficking Database - over 200 last year - remains a cause of serious concern and might well be only the tip of the iceberg. Some material reported missing is never recovered, while, at other times, material turns up which had never been reported missing.

Management of the Agency

As I said in my introduction, the Agency has a proud story to tell in terms of efficiency. Keeping the Secretariat lean has been a management priority throughout my tenure. Every year, we have received a clean bill of health from our External Auditor, an "unqualified opinion" on the Agency accounts. This has been an important factor in demonstrating to Member States that the resources entrusted to us are being used responsibly.

The efficiency and effectiveness of our management practices have been widely recognised, with, for example, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget assigning the Agency its highest score for value for money. We were pioneers in the United Nations system in introducing results-based management, a comprehensive approach to programming and budgeting, covering all stages from planning and implementation to assessment and reporting of results. I established an Office of Internal Oversight Services, which has helped to guard against mismanagement and corruption and made us more efficient and effective. I introduced the practice of holding senior management retreats on an annual basis, which have helped us to consolidate our corporate culture and to focus on the big picture.

In terms of staffing, we have made some good progress both in increasing the percentage of women employed in our professional posts and in ensuring equitable geographical distribution. However, I would like to see many more women, and more staff from developing countries, in senior positions. To achieve this, we will need to receive considerably more applications from qualified candidates in both groups.

Unfortunately, despite our proven record of effectiveness and efficiency, we find ourselves fighting exactly the same battles for resources at the start of every budget cycle. I am baffled that some Member States believe they can continue, year after year, to enjoy the benefits of the Agency´s programme without putting in much, if any, additional resources, and without loss of quality, especially against a background of zero growth budget policies for most of the past two decades. Moreover, too many countries have fallen into arrears with some or all of their contributions. Membership of the Agency is a balance of rights and obligations. For the Secretariat to be able to deliver the high-quality services expected of us, Member States must accept their obligation to fund these services. It is high time for Member States to recognize that the Agency is in fact implementing many aspects of their national policies that they cannot implement without international cooperation. But for international cooperation to succeed, priorities of all Member States should receive the same degree of attention and appropriate funding. This balance is key to our success. In my view, the Agency needs to take a fresh look at the mode of financing its various activities and put funding on a solid basis that is equitable, predictable and, above all, adequate.

The Commission of Eminent Persons, which I appointed under the chairmanship of former President Zedillo of Mexico to consider the future of the Agency, made valuable recommendations on various areas of our work. It called for our budget to be doubled by 2020, with an immediate infusion of 80 million euros to deal with the Agency´s dilapidated infrastructure. Regrettably, so far, with a few exceptions, its conclusions do not appear to have been taken to heart. The international community has, in general, an unfortunate record of failing to anticipate or take preventive action. There is a pattern of being caught unprepared by a crisis and then hastily throwing resources at it. It took the discovery of Iraq´s clandestine nuclear weapons programme to prompt Member States to give the Agency more authority in the form of the additional protocol. Likewise, the Chernobyl accident concentrated minds on the safety of nuclear power plants, while the horrors of 9/11 made the world take the threat of nuclear terrorism seriously. None of us can see everything that is coming down the line towards us. But we can see that it is imperative that we are properly equipped to deal with the unexpected, as well as with what is foreseeable.

Let me repeat what I told the Board of Governors in June and spell out some of the consequences which I fear if the Agency has to continue living with an inadequate budget. Our ability to maintain an independent and credible verification system will deteriorate. The world´s vulnerability to a repeat of a disaster like Chernobyl will increase. The risk of terrorists obtaining nuclear or radioactive materials and using them will grow. Our ability to meet the needs of developing countries facing growing hunger, poverty and disease will be eroded.

The sums needed to put Agency funding on a secure footing for the coming decades are insignificant, especially compared to the magnitude and range of risks the Agency has to address. It is my responsibility, one last time, to point out to you the consequences of inadequate funding.

Role of Director General

I would like to say a few words on the role of the Director General. It is, of course, immensely challenging and immensely rewarding. It can also be controversial. Countries unhappy with something we have done or said occasionally accuse us of having "politicised" what - in their view - should be our purely technical role. We are indeed a technical organization, but we work in a highly charged political environment. We need to be aware at all times of the different, and sometimes conflicting, political views and interests of our Member States. That does not mean playing politics. The Director General must be independent and above politics - but not afraid to "speak truth to power." He or she must be faithful to the Statute and the rules of the Agency and willing to remind Member States of the principles and values they subscribed to in becoming members.

The IAEA has to navigate some extremely choppy waters. The Director General must be acutely aware of how everything we do and say can be used or misused. Every word in a safeguards report has to be weighed carefully because it can, in extreme cases, make the difference between war and peace. Part of the role of the Director General, who is often called upon to reconcile differences, is to give Member States his best advice on what should be done for the Agency to fulfil its mission, knowing full well that it is they who make the decisions. But I leave you with one thought - it may be, when my successor Ambassador Amano and his successors are telling you things you do not want to hear, that is when you need to listen most.

Future of the Agency

Looking to the future, it is clear that tremendous challenges, but also tremendous opportunities, lie ahead for the Agency. Nuclear disarmament is finally back on the agenda. If it proceeds successfully, as I hope it will, this could create a significant additional verification role for the Agency. This would be a natural extension of the Agency´s work.

The world is in transition and centres of political and economic power are shifting. In 50 years´ time, there may be several dozen additional countries with nuclear power programmes, mostly in what today is known as the developing world. Most of the 30 countries which already have nuclear power will build additional plants. That means more work for the Agency in helping with capacity-building, quality assurance, verification, safety and security. Demand for nuclear techniques in medicine, agriculture and other areas will continue to grow and, for developing countries, the Agency will remain the first port of call.

The IAEA´s dual mandate of security and development is unique. We are part of a complex web of international security mechanisms which need to work in harmony if we are to effectively serve the people who put their trust in us. I certainly do not share the prevailing cynicism about international organizations. Like all human endeavours, they have their weaknesses. But they are capable of great things if properly resourced and empowered, and competently led. We live in an increasingly globalised world and none of the major problems we face - warped ideologies, terrorism, hunger, arms control, climate change, communicable diseases or cyber security - can be solved by any one country acting alone. We need effective institutions. The IAEA is one of the finest and most effective organizations in the world today, with staff of exceptionally high calibre. Its strength lies in its objectivity and its outstanding technical competence. I urge you to invest in this organization and to cherish it.

Conclusion

The Egyptian-born poet Constantine Cavafy once wrote: "When you set out on your journey... pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge." My journey with the IAEA has been long and there have been many adventures. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as Director General of the IAEA for 12 years. I am deeply grateful to all of my colleagues throughout the Agency, past and present, for their sterling professionalism, their loyalty and their dedication. Without them, we would not be where we are today. I thank you, the Member States, for honouring me with your confidence. I congratulate my successor, Director General-designate Amano, wish him every success and offer him my full support. I trust that he will lead the Agency with vision, impartiality and courage.

After a lifetime as a diplomat and international civil servant, I know - as all of you do - that diplomacy and negotiation can be tedious. But if history has taught us anything, it is surely that force rarely solves problems. So we had better stick to diplomacy. For diplomacy to succeed, we must act as one human family, with the conviction that all human beings have a right to live in dignity and peace, free from fear and free from want, under a global security system that does not rely on inhumane weapons and is rooted in fairness and equity.

I end by recalling the concept of Ubuntu, the essence of the spirit of the continent of Africa from which I come and to which I owe a debt of gratitude. Ubuntu, which has much to teach us all, is the recognition of the inextricable bonds that link us as human beings. It acknowledges that none of us exists in isolation. "I am, because you are."

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