Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

The agenda for this meeting covers many Agency activities. I will start by noting that you have before you requests for membership of the Agency by the Kingdom of Cambodia, which is asking to rejoin, and the Republic of Rwanda.

Nuclear Applications

In the area of nuclear applications, good progress is being made in establishing comprehensive cancer control programmes in the six PACT Model Demonstration Sites.

During my recent visit to one of the existing sites, in Tanzania, I observed children with cancer being treated with a radiotherapy machine provided through the Agency. This was a moving experience which reinforced my conviction that, with your continuous support and that of PACT partners, we can effectively save lives and alleviate suffering. I am pleased that Ghana will become host of the seventh PACT Model Demonstration Site in the next few months.

I reported to the June Board on the launch of the WHO-IAEA Joint Programme on Cancer Control. The Joint Programme Steering Committee met for the first time in July to decide upon a coordinated approach to combating cancer in developing countries. Two IAEA/WHO regional workshops were organized in June and July for Member States from Africa and the Asia and Pacific region.

Molybdenum-99 Shortage
There are continuing concerns, following a number of reactor shutdowns, about the shortage of supply of the isotope molybdenum-99, required for obtaining technetium-99m, which is used in diagnostic imaging. Hundreds of thousands of people have been denied key diagnostics due to these shortages. The Agency is working with Member States and partner organizations to try to improve supplies of molybdenum, including by providing detailed practical guidance to operators of ageing research reactors on optimal management of their facilities. During my recent visit to South Africa, I was informed of its efforts to increase production of molybdenum-99 to meet the global shortfall.

Nuclear Power

Let me now turn to nuclear power. No new reactors have been brought online so far this year, but there have been six new construction starts as well as two restarts of suspended projects. As a result of the global economic crisis, there have been a few cases of countries delaying nuclear power decisions and utilities revisiting their overall power expansion plans. However, the Agency´s new projections for nuclear power generating capacity in the medium term have actually been revised upwards. The low projection is now for 511 GW(e) of generating capacity in 2030, compared to 370 GW(e) today. The high projection is for 807 GW(e), more than a doubling. The expected growth reflects the urgent need for energy, especially in the developing world, concerns about energy security, fluctuations in fossil fuel prices, the need to vigorously address climate change, as well as the good performance and safety record of nuclear power.

The number of Member States considering, or already launching, new nuclear power programmes continues to increase, with a corresponding rise in demand for the Agency´s assistance. The number of national and regional technical cooperation projects on the introduction of nuclear power has risen to 44 so far this year from 15 in 2008.

This year we launched our Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) service to provide peer review of Member States´ development towards nuclear power. This follows publication in 2007 of the Agency´s Milestones document, which systematically outlines all the measures that need to be put in place to set up and operate a nuclear power programme. In August, Jordan became the first country to receive an INIR mission. We hope that INIR missions will become an integral element of a prudent approach to nuclear power. The Agency has also developed a variation of its Knowledge Management Assist Mission to conduct peer reviews of nuclear education and training systems and offer recommendations. The first such mission, to Malaysia, was completed in July.

Growth in nuclear power also means increased demand for uranium. Three new uranium mines have begun production this year and more are expected to follow suit. The number of Agency technical cooperation projects on uranium exploration and production has increased from four to ten. The Agency has revived the Uranium Production Site Assessment Team (UPSAT), a peer review service to compare current and proposed uranium operations against the world´s best practice. The first UPSAT mission will take place soon, to Brazil.

The Agency is responding to increased interest in decommissioning and waste management, both from countries retiring old nuclear facilities and from those already anticipating the full life cycle of nuclear power. We continue to expand our expert networks in which countries relatively new to decommissioning and waste issues can learn directly from those with experience. The international decommissioning network, launched two years ago, makes it possible for countries without experience to witness decommissioning activities. Recent examples included the removal of graphite from the Moata reactor in Australia and the cutting of concrete structures at the reactor at CIEMAT in Spain. Concerning the disposal of high level waste and spent fuel, I note the progress being made in Sweden, Finland and France in developing deep geological repositories.

The IAEA has encouraged countries with research reactors to improve regional coordination and work together in areas such as strategic planning and marketing of irradiation products and services. For example, the Agency was able to bring together a well utilized research reactor, whose operators needed additional capacity, and an under-utilized reactor which needed more business, to the benefit of both. Five such networks have been formed: in the Baltic, Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Eurasia and Mediterranean regions.

In the past year, significant progress has been made on a major technical cooperation project, the work to repackage and return spent fuel from the research reactor at the Vinča Institute near Belgrade, Serbia, to the Russian Federation. This has been a safety and security concern for a number of years. I recently had an opportunity to witness the evolution of this project myself.

I am pleased to report that, thanks to major efforts by the Government of Serbia, supported by a number of international donors including the IAEA, funding has finally been secured which should allow shipment of the spent fuel to start in 2010. I expect the relevant agreements to be signed during the General Conference next week.

Nuclear Safety and Security

As the 2009 Nuclear Security Report before you shows, we continue to receive reports about incidents of unauthorized possession, movement and attempted sales of nuclear and other radioactive material which show nuclear trafficking continuing unabated.

In the year to June 2009, the Agency´s Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) received reports of 215 incidents. It is troubling that the recovery rate of radioactive material reported lost or stolen remains low. As I have said many times, it is vital that all Member States do their utmost to ensure that nuclear and radioactive materials are safe and secure. Seven additional countries have joined the ITDB programme in the past year, taking the total to 107. I ask all Member States to join.

In addition, we have presented a new Nuclear Security Plan for 2010-2013, setting out the Agency´s programme. I hope all Member States will support this important undertaking.

You have also received the report on Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety. It shows that while worldwide nuclear safety performance remains at a high level, there is a constant need for vigilance.

Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Status of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
You have before you draft NPT safeguards agreements, small quantities protocols and additional protocols for the Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Vanuatu. With the conclusion of these instruments, there will still be 26 NPT non-nuclear-weapon States without comprehensive safeguards agreements, and more than 100 States will have yet to conclude or bring additional protocols into force.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea
As I informed you at the June Board, the Agency´s inspectors left the DPRK in April after the DPRK ceased all cooperation with the Agency. Since that date we have been unable to carry out any monitoring and verification activities in the DPRK. I therefore have nothing to report to the Board.

I call, as always, on all parties to continue to work for a comprehensive solution that would bring the DPRK back to the NPT and address its security concerns and humanitarian needs, as well as other political and economic issues.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement 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. Since my last report, the Agency has continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has cooperated with the Agency in improving safeguards measures at the Fuel Enrichment Plant and in providing the required access to the Iran Nuclear Research Reactor (IR-40) at Arak for purposes of design information verification.

On all other issues relevant to Iran´s nuclear programme, however, there is stalemate. Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities or its work on heavy water related projects as required by the Security Council, nor has Iran implemented the Additional Protocol. Likewise, Iran has not cooperated with the Agency in connection with the remaining issues, detailed fully and completely in the Agency´s reports, which need to be clarified in order to exclude the possibility of there being military dimensions to Iran´s nuclear programme.

In this context, I should repeat that all information made available to the Agency relevant to Iran´s nuclear programme which has been critically assessed by the Agency in accordance with its standard practices has been brought to the attention of the Board. I am dismayed by the allegations of some Member States, which have been fed to the media, that information has been withheld from the Board. These allegations are politically motivated and totally baseless. Such attempts to influence the work of the Secretariat and undermine its independence and objectivity are in violation of Article VII.F. of the IAEA Statute and should cease forthwith.

In my view, there are three key areas relevant to Iran´s nuclear programme that need to be addressed.

First, and specifically, Iran needs to respond fully to all the questions raised by the Agency in order to exclude the possibility of there being military dimensions to its nuclear programme. To this end, it is essential that Iran substantively re-engage with the Agency to clarify and bring to closure all outstanding issues, including the most difficult and important questions regarding the authenticity of information relating to the alleged weaponization studies, by granting the Agency access to persons, information and locations.

I also call on those who provided the information to enable the Agency to share with Iran as much information as possible to assist the Agency in moving forward with the verification process.

Second, and more generally, Iran needs to implement the Additional Protocol. Without the Protocol, the Agency will not be able to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, especially given Iran´s past record of failing to declare material and activities.

Third, Iran´s future intentions concerning its nuclear programme need to be clarified to respond to the concerns of the international community. This is essentially a question of confidence-building between Iran and the international community through comprehensive dialogue and other measures. I call on all parties to begin this dialogue as soon as possible and urge Iran to respond positively to the recent US initiative in this regard.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
The Agency has continued to investigate allegations concerning the destroyed building on the Dair Alzour site in Syria.

Syria has cooperated with the Agency in its verification activities at the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor in Damascus. However, Syria has not yet provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to determine the origin of the anthropogenic natural uranium particles found in samples taken at the Dair Alzour site. Syria has not cooperated with the Agency to enable the Agency to confirm Syria´s statements regarding the non-nuclear nature of the destroyed building on the Dair Alzour site, nor has it provided the required access to information, locations, equipment or materials.

I urge Syria to cooperate with the Agency in its verification activities related to the nature of the Dair Alzour site. It is in Syria´s interest to enable the Agency to corroborate its statements. I also call on other States which may possess information relevant to the Agency´s verification to make such information available to the Agency.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East
Pursuant to the mandate given to me by the General Conference, I have continued my consultations with the States of the Middle East region on the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East, and on the development of model agreements as a necessary step towards the establishment of a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. As my report makes clear, I regret once again that I have not made any progress on either front.

The General Conference also asked me in 2000 to organize a forum on the relevance of the experience of other regions with existing nuclear-weapon-free zones - including confidence building and verification measures - for establishing such a zone in the Middle East. So far, however, consensus on the modalities and agenda of such a forum has remained elusive.

Enhancing Capabilities of Analytical Services for Safeguards
Our plans to upgrade the Agency´s analytical laboratories at Seibersdorf are progressing well. I am grateful for Austria´s recent commitment to provide additional land.

However, I must again point out that, despite extrabudgetary contributions being made available, we still remain considerably short of the funding target, particularly in relation to addressing safety and security issues associated with the nuclear material laboratory.

Assurance of Supply

Since 2003, I have highlighted the merits of a multilateral approach to the assurance of supply of nuclear fuel. Reliance on nuclear energy is expected to increase in the coming decades and such assurances would increase the security of energy supply. As I have said many times, any such mechanism should be non-political, non-discriminatory and available to all Member States in compliance with their safeguards obligations. It should provide an added layer of assurance that every country that wants nuclear energy has guaranteed access to a supply of nuclear fuel that will not be interrupted for political reasons.

At the June Board, I presented proposals for an IAEA owned and operated low enriched uranium (LEU) bank and a reserve in Russia under Agency auspices. In addition, Germany put forward a proposal for a new multilateral enrichment centre. Recently, the United Kingdom circulated a conceptual document outlining its Proposal for a Nuclear Fuel Assurance. I believe none of these proposals would impact on the rights of States to benefit fully from peaceful uses of nuclear energy or limit in any way States´ nuclear fuel cycle options.

I am convinced that the time has now come for concrete steps towards a multilateral approach to the fuel cycle, particularly in light of the new momentum for nuclear disarmament. I should make it clear again that our ultimate aim should be the full multinationalization of the sensitive parts of the fuel cycle to guarantee the supply of nuclear fuel and consolidate efforts to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons.

Programme and Budget

Finally, let me turn briefly to the Programme and Budget for 2010-2011.

As I said at the June Board, the Agency´s initial budget request was based on priority needs. The budget agreed since then is significantly lower than proposed and will not be sufficient to fulfil priorities in all areas of the Agency´s work or rebuild the dilapidated Agency infrastructure. This will inevitably have consequences for the scope and quality of services which we will be able to offer to Member States, consequences which we will outline to you in due course.

Last update: 11 November 2014