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3 March 2014 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Mr. Chairman,

I will begin by congratulating Brunei Darussalam and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas on becoming Member States of the IAEA. This brings our membership to 162 countries.

Mr. Chairman,

As we approach the third anniversary of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Agency continues to support Japan and to help strengthen nuclear safety throughout the world.

The final reports to Japan of our international review missions on decommissioning, and on remediation of large contaminated off-site areas, have been made public. Both missions observed good progress in their respective areas. But the situation remains complex, and challenging issues must be resolved to ensure the plant's long-term stability.

Progress continues to be made in implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. The next International Experts' Meeting in two weeks' time will focus on severe accident management.

The 6th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety will be held in Vienna from 24 March to 4 April. I hope it will have a productive outcome that will help to strengthen global nuclear safety.

The Nuclear Safety Review 2014 shows that the operational safety of the world's nuclear power plants remains high. Significant progress has been made in strengthening nuclear safety in key areas such as assessments of safety vulnerabilities and strengthening the Agency's peer review services.

Long-term operation of nuclear power plants is an important issue for many countries. Many of the world's nuclear power reactors have been in operation for 30 or 40 years or more. Managing these reactors safely in the long term poses challenges which need to be carefully assessed and managed.

Mr. Chairman,

The Agency conducted its first-ever exercise to test Member States' preparedness for, and response to, a so-called "dirty bomb" attack. The ConvEx-3 exercise, hosted by Morocco, showed a need for improved response coordination among Member States.

Since my last report to the Board, three countries - Canada, Colombia and Jamaica - have ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM). I encourage all countries which have not yet done so to ratify the Amendment as soon as possible.

On 24 and 25 March, the Netherlands will host the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. I will attend as an observer on behalf of the Agency.

Nuclear Energy

Mr. Chairman,

The Nuclear Technology Review 2014 gives an overview of the global status of nuclear energy. There were 437 nuclear power reactors in operation and four new grid connections in 2013. Construction began on 10 new power reactors, up from seven in 2012. Last year, there were 72 reactors under construction, the largest number for 25 years. Growth is centred mainly in Asia, but countries in other regions, including Eastern Europe, also have significant expansion plans.

The Agency has a comprehensive programme to assist Member States with established nuclear power programmes, as well as those building their first nuclear power plants. The groups in the Agency responsible for supporting newcomers, and for the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO), have been upgraded to Sections, which will help us to offer you improved services.

It is essential for all countries which use, or plan to use, nuclear power to have a sustainable supply of qualified staff. The Agency will host an International Conference on Human Resource Development for Nuclear Power Programmes: Building and Sustaining Capacity in Vienna from 12 to 16 May.

All nuclear technologies rely on fundamental nuclear and atomic data. The Nuclear Data Section and the Agency-run International Nuclear Information System (INIS) have been providing such data for five decades. INIS is searchable through Google and Google Scholar.

You have before you for approval two project and supply agreements for the transfer of low enriched uranium for research reactors. One is between the Agency, Peru and the United States, and the other is between the Agency, Ghana and China.

Nuclear Applications

Mr. Chairman,

The non-power section of the Nuclear Technology Review highlights some of the ways in which the Agency's work supports the Millennium Development Goals. Let me mention a few examples.

Recent developments in digital imaging, such as teleradiology - the transmission of patient images from one location to another - have direct beneficial impacts on human health.

The treatment of industrial and wastewater effluent and sludge, using technologies such as electron beam accelerators, can help preserve water resources, and protect animal life and public health. Nuclear techniques also provide tools for monitoring toxins in seafood and in the environment, as well as for studying the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems.

In May, we will host an international symposium in Vienna on Understanding Moderate Malnutrition in Children for Effective Interventions.

Work continues on our plans to modernise the nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, known as the ReNuAL project. A Strategic Plan is being prepared for the June Board. I am grateful for the pledges of support which we have already received and I invite all countries that are in a position to support this project to do so. I hope to invite you all to a ground-breaking ceremony in Seibersdorf in September.

The Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) was moved to the Department of Technical Cooperation in January. I believe this will provide an opportunity to re-energise this flagship Agency programme.

I am grateful to the many Member States which have made generous donations to PACT over the years, as well as to key donor organisations, including the OPEC Fund for International Development, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, and the Roche African Research Foundation.

Nuclear Verification

ECAS Project
Turning now to nuclear verification, the ECAS project - Enhancing Capabilities of the Safeguards Analytical Services - continues to make progress.

The transition of scientific functions from the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory building to the Nuclear Material Laboratory is proceeding well. The new laboratory should be operational by the end of 2014. Parallel operations in the old building are likely to continue into early next year.

Resources for the ECAS Project remain some eight million euros short of the approved budget of 81 million euros. I thank Member States which contributed recently and encourage all States in a position to do so to make a financial contribution.

State-Level Concept
Consultations with Member States on the State-Level Concept are continuing. We have held two technical meetings and more are planned in the coming months. These consultations are helping to clarify issues related to the State-Level Concept. We are preparing a supplementary document on the State-Level Concept, as I promised.

Safeguards Symposium
From 20 to 24 October this year, we will hold our twelfth Symposium on International Safeguards in Vienna. Entitled Linking Strategy Implementation and People, it is aimed at fostering dialogue between the Agency and its stakeholders from all over the world. I encourage all Member States to participate.

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
Since my last report to the Board, New Zealand has amended its small quantities protocol. You have before you a draft additional protocol for Lao People's Democratic Republic.

The number of States with additional protocols in force stands at 122. I strongly hope that all other States will conclude additional protocols as soon as possible. I ask the 12 States without NPT safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay. I also call on States with the old small quantities protocols to amend or rescind them, if they have not yet done so.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Mr. Chairman,

I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

It will be five years next month since Agency inspectors were asked to leave the DPRK. Nevertheless, the Agency maintains its readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme. I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in implementing its NPT Safeguards Agreement, and to resolve all outstanding issues.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr. Chairman,

Concerning safeguards implementation in Iran, the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

Iran implemented, within the agreed three-month period, the six initial practical measures contained in the Annex to the Framework for Cooperation between Iran and the Agency. We are analysing the information provided by Iran and have requested some additional clarifications.

Last month, the Agency and Iran agreed on the next seven practical measures, which are to be implemented by 15 May. One of these, concerning exploding bridge wire detonators, is related to information contained in the Annex to my report to the November 2011 Board.

With the endorsement of the Board of Governors, the Agency has started to undertake monitoring and verification in relation to the nuclear-related measures set out in the Joint Plan of Action agreed between the E3+3 and Iran. As of today, measures agreed under the Joint Plan of Action are being implemented as planned, including the dilution of a proportion of Iran's inventory of UF6 enriched up to 20 percent, which has reached the half-way mark.

Let me briefly mention funding of the Agency's activities related to the Joint Plan of Action. Seventeen countries have expressed interest in contributing extrabudgetary funds, for which I am grateful. As of today, we are still short of some €1.6 million. I invite Member States which wish to do so to make contributions.

Mr. Chairman,

The measures implemented by Iran, and the further commitments it has undertaken, represent a positive step forward, but much remains to be done to resolve all outstanding issues.

In particular, clarification of all issues related to possible military dimensions, and implementation by Iran of its Additional Protocol, are essential for the Agency to resolve all outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear activities.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
As far as implementation of safeguards in the Syrian Arab Republic is concerned, Syria last month indicated its readiness to enable the Agency to conduct an inspection at the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor in Damascus.

However, the security situation on the ground is such that the Agency is not in a position to send inspectors to Syria. We will continue to monitor the security situation in the country.

I renew my call to Syria to cooperate fully with us in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations.

Other Issues

Mr. Chairman,

Turning briefly to other issues, we remain committed to seeking efficiencies. Our efforts to cut costs are bearing fruit in many areas, including in travel and consultancies. Under the Partnership for Continuous Improvement, managers and staff across the Agency are identifying ways to cut red tape.

I am pleased to note that the Working Group on Financing the Agency's Activities has begun its deliberations, under the able co-chairmanship of the Ambassador of France and the Governor of Kenya. I hope it will have constructive discussions.

The current phase of the AIPS Project, covering human resources and payroll, is expected to be completed later this year, slightly behind the planned schedule. This additional time will enable us to incorporate technology improvements that have recently become available.

I am aware that some documents prepared for this Board were unfortunately issued late in some languages other than English. We are taking steps to address this problem. Ensuring the timely release of Board documents in all official languages is a high priority for me.

The proportion of women in senior positions has increased steadily since I took office in 2009. When a new female Director of Human Resources joins us next month, we will have ten female Directors and one female DDG at the Agency. I will continue to work to increase the proportion of women, and to ensure equitable geographical representation, at all levels.

I invite all Member States to attend our celebration of International Women's Day tomorrow. This year's theme is Inspiring Change. The event will take place outside the Boardroom, here in the C-building, after the morning session.

Finally, I wish to inform you that the next IAEA Scientific Forum in September will focus on the science and technology related to the management of nuclear and other radioactive waste.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.