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23 September 2013 | Seibersdorf, Austria
Inauguration of IAEA Nuclear Material Laboratory at Seibersdorf

Statement at Inauguration of IAEA Nuclear Material Laboratory

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, dear Colleagues,

I welcome you all to Seibersdorf.

Today, we mark a historic milestone for the IAEA with the inauguration of the Nuclear Material Laboratory for safeguards analysis.

It is almost exactly two years since we gathered here for the ground-breaking for the NML, as well as for the formal opening of the extension to the IAEA Clean Laboratory.

Over the next 18 months, the building behind me will replace the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory, which dates back to 1976. Some of you can see it to your right, beyond the wall, on the campus of the Austrian Institute of Technology.

Analytical functions will move from the old building to the NML by the end of 2014. The new laboratory will provide the Agency with a modern and expandable capability for nuclear sample analysis, collected from all points of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The NML was designed to give the Department of Safeguards an enhanced set of independent verification capabilities.

It will bring together, in a single building, analytical activities that are currently dispersed among a number of buildings at Seibersdorf.

The NML will give us state of the art capabilities in the analysis of uranium, plutonium, spent fuel and high-activity liquid waste samples, as well as in archiving samples safely and securely.

Once completed, it will have training facilities for inspectors and nuclear chemists, which will be available to visiting scientists from Member States. It will also have sufficient office space for all laboratory staff.

The Seibersdorf site will comply with the Agency's guidance on the physical protection of nuclear material, as well as with IAEA nuclear safety standards. It will also meet Austrian requirements in these areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The NML building is now complete, but we have a lot of work to do before it becomes operational.

Much of the infrastructure required for safe operations - including security - remains to be funded and built.

The budget ceiling for all approved activities under the ECAS project is 80.82 million euros. With the approval of the 2014 budget by the General Conference last week, the project still faces a funding shortfall of nearly 8.9 million euros.

I therefore encourage Member States to continue donating to this vitally important project. Donations of any size - but ideally large - will be gratefully received to enable us to complete the ECAS project to the same high standard of excellence that characterizes this building.

Needless to say, the construction of this fine building would not have been possible without the active and generous support of Member States. I thank all of you for the encouragement and support which you have given us.

In particular, I thank Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union for their generous financial assistance for the ECAS project.

My special thanks go to the Government of Austria for being an exemplary host country and for generously making additional land available. The State of Lower Austria is also our valued partner here in Seibersdorf, especially in building the new road that will serve the main entrance.

I appreciate the cooperation of the local authorities - especially Buergermeister Ehrenhofer - of the people of Seibersdorf, and of our colleagues and neighbours at the Austrian Institute of Technology. This is indispensable for the successful day-to-day operation of our laboratories.

I also express my deep appreciation to my colleagues in the Department of Safeguards. In particular, I acknowledge the contributions of:

Gabi Voigt, Director for the Office of Safeguards Analytical Services;

Dave Swindle, the lead consultant;

Bob McGill, the Project Management Group Head;

NML Section Head Steve Balsley;

as well as the rest of the project management group and, indeed, all the staff at SGAS.

Finally, as you know, I have launched a new initiative to modernize the Agency's Nuclear Sciences and Applications laboratories here in Seibersdorf. It is known as the ReNuAL Project.

The eight laboratories support IAEA programmes in food and agriculture, human health, the environment and nuclear science.

Based on the excellent experience we have had in implementing the ECAS project, I am convinced that we will be successful with this initiative too. You will hear more about the details of this project in the months to come.

When all of the work here at Seibersdorf has been completed, the Agency will have two sets of modern laboratories, able to address Member State needs in nuclear verification and across the whole range of peaceful nuclear applications.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the honour to ask Ambassador Nguyen, the newly elected Chairman of the Board of Governors, to speak to us.

Then he and I will join Ambassador Stix-Hackl, representing Austria, to cut the ribbon and open the building.

Thank you for your attention and for your participation in today's celebration.