Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to begin by drawing your attention to the fact that the Commonwealth of Dominica has submitted an application for Membership of the Agency.

The IAEA Annual Report for 2010 has been distributed. I hope you will find it a valuable overview of the significant activities of the Agency last year.

Turning to the Technical Cooperation Report for 2010, nuclear safety and human health were the two largest areas of activity, followed by food and agriculture. This underscores the fact that the Agency is firmly focused on helping Member States to apply nuclear science and technology to address critical development needs, while maintaining the highest safety standards. I remind all Member States of how important it is that they contribute in full and on time to the Technical Cooperation Fund. I appreciate that, in 2010, the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative was an important source of funding for footnote /a TC projects. I would like to thank the United States for launching the PUI, as well as the Republic of Korea for recently pledging a contribution of around 800,000 U.S. dollars.

I will highlight just a few projects to give you a flavour of the scope and breadth of the TC programme.

In Europe, a regional project to enhance the safety and sustainability of research reactors is concentrating on developing sub-regional coalitions and networks. The Agency supported the establishment of a Regional Network for the Optimization of Occupational Exposures in Latin America in order to encourage the development of a nuclear and radiological safety culture. In Africa, support to radiation safety was provided through a portfolio of regional projects. In Asia and the Pacific, our efforts focussed on helping Member States to strengthen their nuclear safety and security infrastructure.

In the human health area, the fight against cancer in developing countries remains a high priority. Last year saw the inauguration, with IAEA support, of Mauritania's first radiotherapy centre, which means many cancer patients will no longer have to travel abroad for treatment. In Albania, the Nuclear Medicine Center and the Radiotherapy Center at the Mother Theresa University Hospital in Tirana are being upgraded, with Agency assistance, to deliver modern diagnostic and therapeutic services.

In food and health, the Agency is supporting the Government of Senegal's national strategy for the fortification of foods to address a significant micronutrient deficiency problem.

Programme and Budget

Turning briefly to the Draft Programme and Budget for 2012-2013, as you are aware, my original proposals were prepared with a particularly strong focus on efficiencies and prioritization. The increase I proposed - 2.8% plus a 1.1% price adjustment - was, in my view, reasonable and commensurate with the expanded priorities reflected in the Medium Term Strategy 2012-2017.

Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, I proposed some adjustments within that same envelope, including additional funding for Safety and Security and a corresponding decrease in Management and Administration.

I understand that Ambassador Rasi, Chairperson of the Working Group on Financing the Agency's Activities, has circulated a Package Proposal which includes an increase of 2.1% plus the 1.1% price adjustment. I would like to express my appreciation to Ambassador Rasi once again for her tireless efforts to reach consensus on this important issue.

Adopting a new budget recommendation, two weeks ahead of a major Ministerial Conference on nuclear safety hosted by the Agency, would send a positive message about our ability to live up to the international community's expectations at this important time. I therefore strongly urge the Board to come together at this meeting to reach consensus on the reasonable budget increase proposed by Ambassador Rasi.

Fukushima Daiichi Accident

Mr. Chairman,

The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has been a priority for the IAEA since it happened on March 11. I have circulated my report on IAEA Activities in Response to the Fukushima Accident, which details what the IAEA has done since day one. The IAEA has distributed information related to the accident, validated by Japan and other countries, which has served as a reference point. It continues to provide all possible advice and assistance to the Government of Japan as it works to achieve the goal of full stabilisation of the plant. We have worked closely from the start with international partners such as the World Health Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.

In March, a special Board of Governors meeting was convened to discuss the Fukushima Daiichi accident. In April, the 5th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety provided a first formal opportunity for parties to the Convention to share their preliminary thoughts on the lessons that need to be learned.

An IAEA International Fact-Finding Mission, consisting of top world experts from a dozen Member States and the Agency, visited Japan from 24 May to 2 June in order to make an assessment of safety issues related to the accident. After sharing preliminary findings and lessons learned with the Government of Japan, it is now preparing its final report, which will be presented to the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety.

This Ministerial Conference is of vital importance for global nuclear safety after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Its main goals are to make a preliminary assessment of the accident, strengthen emergency preparedness and response, and launch the process of reviewing the global nuclear safety framework in order to strengthen it. The IAEA, with its broad membership and unrivalled expertise in all aspects of nuclear energy and nuclear safety, is the focal point for international follow-up to the Fukushima Daiichi accident. I count on strong participation at a high level by all Member States in the Conference in order to send a strong message concerning their commitment to enhanced nuclear safety.

I wish to express my thanks to Ambassador Antonio Guerreiro of Brazil, the Chairman of the Conference. With his characteristic efficiency and diplomatic skill, he is steering the consultation process in an exemplary manner, and I have no doubt of the success of the Conference under his able leadership.

The Ministerial Conference will be part of a lengthy process of establishing a comprehensive post-Fukushima nuclear safety framework, building on the valuable system that is already in place. I am looking forward to hearing your views during this Board. Based on these views, as well as those expressed during the consultations, and drawing on the Agency's rich experience in assisting Member States in this field, I plan to make some suggestions at the Conference on how to strengthen nuclear safety. I welcome the initiatives and proposals already made by many Member States. I appreciate the proposal made by the Government of Japan to host a conference with the IAEA in the latter half of next year, which demonstrates Japan's commitment to full transparency and its willingness to share its experience for the benefit of all countries.

At the request of Member States from the Asia-Pacific region, we have put before you for approval a new, off-cycle TC project in support of a marine benchmark study on the possible impact of the Fukushima radioactive releases in the region. The project provides for the possibility of Small Island Developing States of the Pacific, which are not Members of the Agency but have shown interest in the study, to participate with the approval of the members of the Regional Cooperative Agreement. Work will start as soon as funding is received.

Assurance of Supply

Mr. Chairman,

Last December, the Board approved the establishment of an IAEA Low Enriched Uranium bank. We have circulated GOV/INF/2011/7 on Host State criteria and invited Member States which may wish to host the LEU bank to make their intentions known. I hope to be able to complete the process of selecting a Host State later in the year.

New financial arrangements are in place for the LEU bank, which is being funded exclusively out of voluntary contributions. We are in the process of securing the transfer of funds pledged by Member States, the European Union and the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

I will provide the Board with an indicative administrative and financial plan for the operation of the LEU bank as soon as possible.

Nuclear Applications

Mr. Chairman,

Preparations are well underway for the Scientific Forum in September which, as you know, will be devoted to nuclear techniques for water. The aim is to improve understanding among Member States and other key partners of the added value of nuclear techniques in water management and of the Agency's broad range of activities in this area. These include water resources assessment, agricultural water management, and aquatic pollution control.

To give just one example of the Agency's work, 19 African countries are participating in a regional agricultural project using small-scale irrigation technology for better use of water and fertilizer. Nuclear techniques are used to assess soil moisture for plant water requirements and to measure fertilizer uptake. The evidence so far is that drip irrigation increases crop yields while using up to 30% less water than traditional methods.

I will soon invite you to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Agency's Environment Laboratories in Monaco, which will take place on 29 September. I wish to put on record my appreciation for the understanding shown by the Principality of Monaco after the postponement of the commemoration scheduled for last March.

Nuclear Verification

ECAS Project
Turning to safeguards issues, I am pleased to report that the new Clean Laboratory at Seibersdorf is now fully operational and has already analysed its first samples. The Large Geometry Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer, which was delivered in April, makes the Agency a leader in particle analysis. Thanks to the generous donations of a number of Member States, our team was able to get the extended Clean Laboratory up and running on schedule and slightly under budget.

As far as the Nuclear Material Laboratory is concerned, the design work is continuing as scheduled. But we have still not secured full funding for this vital component of the Agency's verification capability. I am grateful to Member States which have already pledged extra budgetary contributions and I call on more countries to do so. I look forward to inviting you to a ceremony marking the inauguration of the new Clean Laboratory and the ground-breaking for the Nuclear Material Laboratory after the summer.

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
Since my last report to the Board, Montenegro has brought into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol. Morocco has brought into force an additional protocol. Guatemala and San Marino amended their small quantities protocols. Pakistan has brought into force a safeguards agreement for Units 3 and 4 of the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant.

The number of States with additional protocols in force now stands at 108. I strongly hope that remaining States will conclude additional protocols as soon as possible. I also ask the 15 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 a draft comprehensive safeguards agreement, small quantities protocol and additional protocol for Guinea.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Turning now to the Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as you know, since April 2009 the Agency has not been able to implement any safeguards measures in that country.

The nuclear programme of the DPRK remains a matter of serious concern for the North-East Asia region and beyond. Last year's reports about the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility and a light water reactor in the DPRK are deeply troubling. As I noted at the last Board meeting, the General Conference has called on 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.

I urge the DPRK once again to fully implement all of the relevant resolutions of the General Conference and the Security Council. I also wish to stress that the Agency has an essential role to play in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme. I will present a comprehensive report on the Agency's previous verification activities in the DPRK, as requested, to the September Board and the General Conference.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Since my previous report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Agency has received further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities that seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme. There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued until recently.

Last month, I sent a letter to His Excellency, Dr. Fereydoun Abbasi, Vice President of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, reiterating the Agency's concerns about the existence of possible military dimensions. I also requested that Iran provide prompt access to relevant locations, equipment, documentation and persons. I received a reply from His Excellency. Dr. Abbasi on 31 May. I replied in turn in a letter to him dated 3 June, in which I reiterated the Agency's requests to Iran.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, 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 urge Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations in order to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
As you will have seen from my report on the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Agency has come to the conclusion that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency. This is the best assessment of the Agency, based on all the information in its possession.

The Syrian Government was given ample time by the Agency to cooperate fully concerning the Dair Alzour site, but did not do so. Nevertheless, we had obtained enough information to draw a conclusion. I judged it appropriate to inform Member States of our conclusion at this stage as it was in no-one's interest to let this situation drag on indefinitely. On 26 May, I received a letter from the Atomic Energy Commission of Syria, the contents of which have been shared with you. I am confident about our conclusion and I look forward to engaging further with Syria to resolve related outstanding issues.

It is deeply regrettable that the facility was destroyed - allegedly by Israel - without the Agency having been given an opportunity to perform its verification role. Rather than force being used, the case should have been reported to the IAEA.

Concerning the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, Syria has cooperated with the Agency by providing the requested access to Homs, among other sites. Syria's statements concerning the previously unreported conversion activities at the MNSR and the origin of anthropogenic uranium particles are not inconsistent with the results of the Agency's verification activities. This matter will be addressed in the routine implementation of safeguards.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

As far as the application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle East is concerned, I have received encouraging signals from a number of Member States to my letter earlier in the year 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 hope it may be possible to reach agreement on holding such a forum here in Vienna later this year. I am continuing my consultations and will keep the Board informed of the outcome.

Cybersecurity

Mr. Chairman,

I wanted to mention briefly that the Agency organized a technical meeting to address Member States' concerns regarding newly arising threats to nuclear facilities in the field of cybersecurity. The meeting was attended by over 100 participants from 33 countries. We will continue to pay close attention to this important subject.

Finally, Mr. Chairman,

I note that the Board has a very full agenda for this meeting, dealing with substantial issues. A positive outcome of this Board will be extremely important for the work of the Agency, both this year and next. I wish you every success with your deliberations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Last update: 21 October 2014