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26 November 2009 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

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Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

Technical Cooperation/Nuclear Applications

You have before you the Agency´s Technical Cooperation Programme for 2010, as recommended by the TACC. This is the second year of an unusual three-year TC Programme cycle, implemented to align the Technical Cooperation Fund and Regular Budget cycles. The aim is that the programme cycles for TC and the regular budget should be synchronized from 2012. As part of the one-house approach, this would enable the technical departments to align their programmatic activities to provide support for the TC programme.

The TC programme continues to evolve to address pressing challenges in a range of areas. Human health, food and agriculture and nuclear safety remain the top three priorities for Member States. Let me mention a few examples of how the Agency is helping to improve lives for people in developing countries. In Yemen, the country´s first Nuclear Medicine Centre at Al-Thawra Hospital, established with the help of the Agency, has been fully operational since July 2008. It treats thousands of patients per year and also serves as a national training centre. In Latin America, the Agency is using isotopic techniques to provide tools for the diagnosis and evaluation of obesity in children. In Algeria, the Agency provided data that has enabled the country to develop national guidelines for the optimal exploitation of water resources.

The Agency has been focusing on improving quality across the full TC programme cycle. Our approach emphasizes full involvement by recipient countries in the preparation of the TC programme, as well as monitoring, self-assessment and independent evaluation. Special efforts have been made to increase the number of Country Programme Frameworks. Work to increase alignment with UN activities was reflected in the signing of six new United Nations Development Assistance Framework agreements since May 2008.

The Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) has become a well recognized programme in the global battle against cancer. This was illustrated in May this year by the signature of the joint WHO/IAEA Programme for Cancer Control. PACT and its partners have already implemented missions to 20 Member States. PACT has mobilized $24 million for cancer control since 2007, which is an impressive achievement. Seven PACT Model Demonstration Sites are now in operation. To date, 71 Member States have requested Agency support through PACT. I hope more funds will be forthcoming for this programme, which aims to save lives that would otherwise be lost unnecessarily.

Nuclear Energy

I have spoken often of the increased interest in nuclear power and the growing number of requests for Agency assistance from countries considering or launching new nuclear power programmes. I have spoken about our coordinated one-house approach, about the milestones we developed to provide guidance on the development of national infrastructure for nuclear power, and about the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) service. The first INIR mission took place in Jordan in July and proved a significant success. The second mission is underway this week in Indonesia and the third will take place next week in Vietnam.

INIR missions are an important new service of the Agency, but I believe we could and should do more to help so-called newcomers to nuclear power. We have therefore circulated GOV/INF/2009/11 on Strengthening Agency Support to Member States Considering or Launching Nuclear Power Programmes. As some Member States have expressed a willingness to consider additional extrabudgetary contributions to the Agency for such a purpose, it is important to start a serious discussion of how best we might broaden and add to the existing services we provide States considering or launching nuclear power programmes. This would enable interested Member States to obtain objective advice from the Agency at cost.

Nuclear Safety and Security

There is increasing demand for the Agency´s support in safety and security infrastructure development in newcomer countries. We continue to refine the existing set of safety standards, security guidance, peer reviews and advisory services, and knowledge networks to better meet the needs of newcomers. However, plans by some countries for rapid development or expansion of nuclear power are proceeding more quickly than their plans to establish the necessary safety and security infrastructure and capacity. This is an issue not only for newcomers, but also for the expansion of existing nuclear power programmes.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
You have before you a draft additional protocol for the Kingdom of Bahrain. Since the Model Additional Protocol was adopted in 1997, you have approved additional protocols for 136 States; such protocols are, however, in force for only 93 States. I therefore reiterate my call on all States that have not yet done so to bring into force additional protocols, as these are central to the Agency´s ability to provide credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities.

Despite some encouraging progress over the last twelve months, there are still 24 NPT non-nuclear-weapon States without comprehensive safeguards agreements. For these States, the Agency cannot draw any safeguards conclusions. It is therefore essential that these States bring into force their required comprehensive safeguards agreements. I also ask those States with small quantities protocols that have not yet done so to amend their SQPs.

It is my hope that all these agreements, which are a prerequisite for the Agency to carry out its verification mission in a credible manner, can come into force in conjunction with the next NPT Review Conference in May next year, which hopefully will strengthen our efforts in non-proliferation and agree on concrete steps on nuclear disarmament.

Implementation of Safeguards 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 in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Agency has continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. However, there has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the Agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran´s nuclear programme. It is now well over a year since the Agency was last able to engage Iran in discussions about these outstanding issues. We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us. It would help if we were able to share with Iran more of the material that is at the centre of these concerns. I also believe that prospects for a resolution of these outstanding issues would be enhanced by Iran implementing the Additional Protocol and by the initiation of the hoped for comprehensive dialogue between Iran and the international community.

In September, Iran informed the Agency that it had decided to construct a new pilot fuel enrichment plant. The Agency has since carried out design information verification at this plant - and verified that it is being built to contain sixteen cascades with a total of approximately 3000 centrifuges. The facility is at an advanced stage of construction and Iran plans to make it operational in 2011. Iran stated that construction of the plant was part of its efforts to protect sensitive nuclear activities against attack by using "passive defence systems."

Iran´s failure to notify the Agency of the existence of this facility until September 2009, rather than as soon as the decision to construct it or to authorize construction was taken, was inconsistent with its obligations under the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement. Iran´s late declaration of the new facility reduces confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction in Iran which have not been declared to the Agency.

As you may be aware, the Agency has been asked by Iran for assistance in providing fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which is used mainly to produce isotopes for medical purposes. After a positive response from the United States, Russia and France, a meeting was convened by the Agency in Vienna in October to discuss the principles and modalities of an Agency Project and Supply Agreement to provide such fuel. On the basis of the discussion at this meeting, I prepared a draft agreement to ship Iranian low enriched uranium for further enrichment in Russia and processing into fuel in France. In view of the degree of mutual mistrust, the draft agreement has extensive built-in guarantees, consisting of the Agency taking custody of the Iranian material until it is returned to Iran in the form of fuel, in addition to commitments by Russia, France and the United States to ensure that the agreement is implemented. Alternatively, I proposed that the LEU could be shipped to a third country such as Turkey, which has the confidence of all parties, and remain there under Agency custody until the reactor fuel is delivered to Iran.

The proposed agreement, as originally drafted, was accepted by the United States, Russia and France. I am disappointed that Iran has not so far agreed to the original proposal or the alternative modalities, both of which I believe are balanced and fair and would greatly help to alleviate the concerns relating to Iran´s nuclear programme. My understanding of Iran´s position so far is that it is ready to exchange LEU produced in Iran, in two batches, simultaneously upon receipt of an equivalent amount of fuel for its research reactor. Pending receipt of the fuel, Iran is ready to place the LEU under IAEA custody and control, but only in Iran.

The proposed agreement is meant to ensure the continued operation of the Tehran Research Reactor and maintain its ability to produce medical isotopes so that cancer patients receive the treatment they need. Equally importantly, it would also help to bring about a shift away from confrontation towards cooperation and open the way for a broad dialogue between Iran and the international community. In my view, the proposed agreement represents a unique opportunity to address a humanitarian need and create space for negotiations. This opportunity should be seized and it would be highly regrettable if it was missed.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
Essentially no progress has been made since my last report in clarifying the outstanding issues relevant to the implementation of safeguards in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Syria has not provided the cooperation necessary to permit the Agency to determine the origin of the anthropogenic natural uranium particles found in samples taken at the Dair Alzour site. Nor has Syria provided information or access that would allow the Agency to confirm Syria´s statements regarding the non-nuclear nature of the destroyed building on that site.

The Agency is investigating whether particles of anthropogenic natural uranium of a type not in Syria´s declared inventory, detected at the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) in Damascus in July, may be due to experiments Syria says it carried out at the MNSR with materials containing uranium. The materials and certain experiments should have been reported earlier to the Agency. The Agency took additional samples at the reactor on 17 November, the results of which we await.

The Agency will continue its efforts to verify Syria´s statements within the authority available to it. Without Syria´s cooperation, or access to information that may be available to other States, including Israel, the Agency will not be able to progress much further in its verification efforts.

Assurance of Supply

The agenda for this meeting contains a proposal by the Russian Federation on establishing a low enriched uranium (LEU) reserve for the supply of LEU under Agency auspices to Member States. This nuclear fuel assurance mechanism was described initially in my report GOV/2009/31 last June. Since then, the Russian Federation has continued consultations with the Secretariat and a draft Agreement has been prepared to be concluded between the Russian Federation and the Agency in this regard, as well as a draft Model Agreement to be concluded between the Agency and a Member State requesting LEU from the reserve. The proposed Agreements generically follow the Agency´s project and supply agreements.

The initiative is fully funded by the Russian Federation. It would guarantee the supply of LEU through the Agency for eligible Member States, in accordance with predetermined criteria to be approved by the Board. It would complement the proposed Agency LEU bank, if and when approved, by making more material available to the IAEA.

I remain convinced that some such mechanism - which is clearly envisioned in the IAEA Statute - is essential as more and more countries introduce nuclear energy. Our ultimate goal, however, should be the full multinationalization of the sensitive parts of the fuel cycle - uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing - as we, hopefully, move towards a world free from nuclear weapons.

Regarding the proposal to establish an IAEA LEU bank, as described in my report GOV/2009/30 last June, I am pleased to note that the Nuclear Threat Initiative has once again extended its offer of a financial contribution of $50 million by another year through September 2010. I remain hopeful that an IAEA LEU bank can be set up during the coming year.

2010 Budget

My views on the inadequacy of Agency funding are well known. I recently circulated GOV/INF/2009/10 entitled The 2010 Budget: Effect on Programme Delivery which details areas where the reduction in the approved regular budget as compared with our initial proposals will have significant impact on programme delivery. It will be felt most in the Agency´s efforts to respond to requests for assistance from Member States considering or launching nuclear power programmes. I earnestly hope that Agency funding will finally be put on a sustainable basis in the coming years.

Conclusion

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as Director General of the Agency for the past 12 years. I am grateful to you for placing your trust in me and I thank all the staff of the Agency for their professionalism, hard work and dedication. I wish Director General-elect Amano every success in the future and I sincerely hope that Member States will give the Agency all the support it needs to remain an effective and credible partner in creating a safer and more humane world.

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