Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to begin by noting that 2010 was another promising year for nuclear power generation as the number of construction starts on new reactors increased once again. As the latest Nuclear Technology Review shows, there were 66 reactors under construction around the world at the end of the year. This is further evidence that nuclear power is enjoying growing international acceptance as a stable and clean source of energy that can help to mitigate the impact of climate change.

This expansion will clearly lead to significant additional demand for the Agency´s services in all related areas in the coming decades. I have spoken before about my belief that access to nuclear power should not be limited to developed countries. It should also be available to interested developing countries to help them meet their growing energy needs. We have expanded our services for Member States considering or launching nuclear power programmes. In January, we completed the first Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission of 2011 - to the United Arab Emirates - and just a few weeks ago, we convened an important Workshop on the Introduction of Nuclear Power Programmes, with participation from 50 Member States.

The Agency also responds to the needs of Member States which are already operating nuclear power plants, particularly those that are expanding their nuclear power programmes. In the coming decades, most new nuclear power plants will be built in the 29 countries which have such plants today. Our Draft Programme and Budget for 2012-2013 therefore proposes increased support for current and expanding programmes as well as for newcomers.

Assurance of Supply

At the request of a number of Member States, the Board will consider the issue of assurance of nuclear fuel supply at this meeting. I reiterate my view that the Agency remains the appropriate forum for such discussions and I hope that a constructive outcome will be achieved.

In December last year, the Board approved the establishment of an IAEA Low Enriched Uranium bank. Implementation of the LEU bank and other proposals on assurance of nuclear fuel supply will be handled by the Department of Nuclear Energy, in which an IAEA Nuclear Fuel Bank team, funded through voluntary contributions, will be set up in April.

We are working on administrative details and making preparations for accepting further voluntary contributions and inviting expressions of interest from Member States which may wish to host the LEU bank. I will keep the Board informed of our progress.

Project and Supply Agreement

You have before you for approval a request by the Government of Chile for the Agency´s assistance in securing the transfer from the United States of low enriched uranium required for the continued operation of two research reactors. Entry into force of the contract between Chile and the United States is conditional upon the Board´s approval of the Project and Supply Agreement.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Turning now to nuclear safety and security, the 25th anniversary of the world´s worst nuclear accident, at Chernobyl in 1986, occurs next month. I will attend an international summit meeting on the safe and innovative use of nuclear energy in Kiev, which will be followed by a two-day International Scientific Conference. I believe these events will provide a valuable opportunity to examine important lessons learned from the past and consider ways of continuously improving nuclear safety in the coming decades.

The good news is that nuclear safety throughout the world has improved significantly since Chernobyl. To take just one example, the number of unplanned automatic power reactor shutdowns - known as "scrams" - has dropped by nearly 80 percent since 1990. A more robust safety culture has taken hold throughout the global nuclear power sector, important international safety conventions have come into force and the Agency has introduced a successful programme of safety reviews and safety assessments. Nevertheless, we must always guard against complacency.

As the Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2010 shows, denials and delays of shipment of radioactive material remain a problem. For the last 50 years, the safety record for the transport of radioactive material has been exemplary. Nevertheless, some carriers, sea ports and airports continue to deny or delay legitimate shipments of radioactive materials, including important medical isotopes. This is due in part to perceptions of possible radioactive hazards rather than to actual safety concerns. There also appears to be a problem of variations among national regulations, or variations in how regulations are applied. I appeal to Member States to fully comply with the IAEA´s Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material.

I am also pleased to inform you that the International Action Plan for Strengthening the Preparedness and Response System for Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies, approved by the Board in May 2004, has been completed.

Mr. Chairman,

In the area of nuclear security, a complex operation to repatriate more than 8 000 highly radioactive nuclear fuel elements from the Vinca nuclear research reactor in Serbia to Russia was completed in December. The IAEA coordinated a multinational effort involving several governments, the European Union, contractors and NGOs that had been underway since 2002. This was a great success story.

I am also pleased to note that the revision of the Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Rev.5) has been finalized and they will be published soon. The recommendations are valued as a point of reference by all Member States. Although this document is not legally binding, its provisions have been incorporated into many States´ laws and into many inter-State agreements. It is intended to assist States in implementing a comprehensive physical protection regime including their obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its Amendment. I encourage all States to follow the recommendations and to ratify the CPPNM Amendment.

Nuclear Applications

Mr. Chairman,

This year, I will continue the practice I started during my first year in office of focusing particular attention on one of the key areas of nuclear applications. For 2011, I have decided to focus on nuclear techniques for water. This encompasses three important areas of the Agency´s work: water resources assessment, agricultural water management, and aquatic pollution control.

Nearly a billion people still lack access to adequate drinking water. The Agency is in a special position to help countries to undertake comprehensive assessments of water resources by making available unique information provided through the techniques of isotope hydrology. I am pleased to announce the launch of the IAEA Water Availability Enhancement (IWAVE) project, which will develop guidelines and processes for conducting national water resource assessments. Pilot projects are starting in the Philippines, Oman and Costa Rica. We are also helping Member States to realize the benefits of isotope hydrology through the application of new analytical and interpretation tools.

This month, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Environment Laboratories in Monaco. I have invited you to participate in events commemorating this important milestone for the Agency, and in the International Symposium on Isotopes in Hydrology, Marine Ecosystems and Climate Change Studies which the Agency will host in Monaco from 27 March until 1 April.

Needless to say, cancer control in developing countries, to which I gave special attention in 2010, remains an important focus for the Agency. Our efforts last year were well received. We succeeded both in raising international awareness of this crucial subject and in attracting record funding for the Agency´s cancer activities.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, and I recently published a joint article in a number of newspapers throughout the world calling for systematic action at the highest level to end the deadly disparity between cancer survival rates in rich and poor countries. The Agency is making special efforts to address the lack of trained radiotherapy professionals in low and middle income countries by providing training and education. I am very encouraged by a number of new projects and partnerships which we are tackling this year, including the delivery of new equipment to Tanzania and a full programme of collaboration to be launched with Jordan.

Elsewhere in nuclear applications, recent success stories included the Agency´s response to Mongolia´s request for assistance in responding to a major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. This affected more than one million animals directly, and another 10 million indirectly, in the last quarter of 2010. We helped the authorities to identify the specific virus serotype, using nuclear-related technologies, and to implement appropriate control measures, which stopped further spread of the disease.

Nuclear Verification

ECAS Project
Turning now to safeguards issues and in particular to the ECAS project - Enhancing the Capability of Safeguards Analytical Services - I can inform you that construction of the Clean Laboratory Extension is nearing completion. When fully operational this summer, it will greatly improve the Agency´s ability to independently analyse environmental samples for safeguards. I look forward to inviting you to the inauguration of the Clean Laboratory before long. As far as the new Nuclear Material Laboratory is concerned, we are progressing with the design of the Laboratory and hope that construction can start soon.

For the ECAS budget, I have projected a funding requirement of 65.9 million euros. This amount will enable the Agency to meet its minimum essential capability requirements. So far, we have secured just over half of this sum. I ask all Member States which are in position to do so to contribute to this project, which is vital to the future of the Agency.

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
Since my last report in December, Mozambique has brought into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol. The United Arab Emirates and Mexico have brought into force additional protocols. Panama amended its small quantities protocol.

The number of States with APs in force now stands at 106. I strongly hope that remaining States will conclude additional protocols as soon as possible. I also ask the 16 States without NPT safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay, and call on States with small quantities protocols that have not yet done so to amend or rescind their protocols.

You have before you for approval a proposed Agreement with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the Application of Safeguards at Units 3 and 4 of the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea
The nuclear programme of the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea remains a matter of serious concern for the North-East Asia region and beyond, particularly in light of developments in the last few months. I recall once again that the General Conference called for the DPRK to fully comply with its obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, to come into full compliance with the NPT, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in the full and effective implementation of comprehensive Agency safeguards, and to resolve any outstanding issues that may have arisen due to the long absence of Agency safeguards.

In particular, Security Council resolution 1874 requires the DPRK to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes and to act strictly in accordance with the obligations applicable to parties under the NPT and the terms and conditions of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

I believe that last year´s reports about the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility and a light water reactor in the DPRK underline how important it is that the Agency should be present in the DPRK. I wish to stress that the Agency has an essential role to play in verifying the DPRK´s nuclear programme. I urge the DPRK to fully implement all of the relevant resolutions of the General Conference and the Security Council.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran
In my latest report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, I tried to clarify the position of the Agency on a number of legal questions raised on previous occasions. I also tried to improve the overall clarity of the report and I hope that the overviews which I attached this time will facilitate better understanding.

Full implementation by Iran of its binding obligations is needed to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran´s nuclear programme. While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at nuclear facilities and locations outside facilities declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the Agency 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.

I request Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
Concerning the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic, Syria has not cooperated with the Agency since June 2008 in connection with the unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and some other locations. As a consequence, the Agency has not been able to make progress towards resolving the outstanding issues related to those sites.

Last month, I received a letter from Syria´s Minister for Foreign Affairs in response to my letter of November 2010 in which I requested Syria to provide the Agency with prompt access to information and locations related to Dair Alzour.

I believe that the Minister´s response, stating that Syria would continue to work with the Agency to resolve all outstanding technical issues, could represent a step forward. I wish to inform you that we have since reached agreement with Syria on a visit by the Agency to locations at Homs.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

Turning now to the Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East, I have written to Member States seeking their views on convening a forum on the relevance of the experience of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.

I would be grateful for prompt responses from governments so their views can help us develop an agreed approach to this important and long-standing issue. I plan to hold consultations as appropriate and will present my report to the Board of Governors and the General Conference in September.

Information Security

Mr. Chairman,

The Agenda for this meeting includes an item on Protection of Confidential Information. You will recall that, in November 2010, I circulated a Note on Information Security at the IAEA which outlined the Agency´s information security management framework and set out the initiatives that the Agency is pursuing in all areas of information security. Since then, we have continued to raise staff awareness of the vital importance of respecting confidentiality. Nearly 2 000 Agency staff and contractors have passed the mandatory Information Security Test. We continue to follow international best practice in all aspects of information security.

Management and Budget Issues

I would like to touch briefly upon the Draft Programme and Budget for 2012-2013, which was distributed last month.

I have been heartened by the constructive approach from Member States in the Working Group on Financing the Agency´s Activities to my proposals. This is effectively my first biennium Programme and Budget proposal and considerable effort has gone into it. Work within the Secretariat started right after the June 2010 Board in order to produce a document that is balanced and well thought through.

I have given careful consideration to areas including prioritization among the Agency´s activities, efficiency gains and balance among Major Programmes, taking into account all available guidance from the Board and the views of Member States as reflected in the Medium Term Strategy for 2012-2017. I understand that the Working Group will meet again later this week. I trust that discussions will continue in the same constructive spirit and that, under the leadership of Ambassador Rasi, a consensus will be reached by June which will enable the Agency to continue to fulfil its important mandate.

I recently circulated a note explaining my plans to reorganize the work of the Director General´s Office and EXPO with effect from 1 April. This is part of my efforts as chief administrative officer to continuously improve the management of the Secretariat, reflecting guidance given by the Board and outlined in the Medium Term Strategy. The reorganization is intended to streamline our operations, strengthen policy and strategic planning and improve policy coordination and implementation, with a view to improving effectiveness and efficiency in addressing priority issues. I believe strongly in a "one-house" approach within the Secretariat. I intend to continue with management reform.

Finally, Mr Chairman, I note that the first phase of AIPS - the Agency-wide Information System for Programme Support (AIPS) - became operational in January. Things have gone generally well so far. We are dealing with teething problems that are typically encountered at the early stages of any project of this nature. But I am confident that, when fully implemented, AIPS and the new International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), will significantly improve efficiency and transparency. I appreciate your understanding and cooperation in the meantime.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Last update: 21 October 2014