Dear friends and colleagues,
It is a great pleasure to have this first opportunity to welcome you all since I took up my position as Director General last week.
I do not wish to spoil your evening by making a long speech. But I would like to make a few remarks highlighting the areas to which I plan to give special attention in the months and years ahead.
Let me say at the outset that my key objective is to address global issues related to nuclear technology, in accordance with the Statute of the IAEA.
That means working for nuclear non-proliferation, enhancing nuclear safety and security, assisting Member States in meeting their energy needs, responding to concerns about climate change, helping to ensure food security and clean water and improving health care through the application of nuclear techniques.
The Agency´s technical cooperation programme, which aims to make the benefits of nuclear science and technology more widely available, is important to all Member States. My intention is to continue to focus on technical cooperation so that we can more effectively meet the needs of Member States, as identified by them.
In this regard, the priority is capacity-building to help countries establish their own expertise in nuclear science and technology.
I am planning to pay special attention in my first year to cancer control, and, next week, I will make my first official trip as Director General to Nigeria to learn first-hand about its efforts to build an effective cancer control programme, among other issues.
In January, I will use my participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos to appeal for focussed global attention on the growing cancer epidemic.
In September, cancer control will be the topic of the Scientific Forum.
This does not mean, of course, neglecting other areas of our work, which will receive special attention in future years.
I now turn to nuclear power, which is enjoying growing acceptance as a stable and clean source of energy that can help to mitigate the impact of global warming. Many Member States have made it clear that they attach great importance to launching new nuclear power programmes, or expanding existing programmes.
We have already significantly re-focussed our activities to help meet the needs of newcomers to nuclear power. I plan to build on our achievements and make the assistance we provide in capacity-building and other areas as practical and recipient-friendly as possible.
My hope is that, as a result of the Agency´s efforts, Member States will start to see tangible progress within four years on the path towards introducing nuclear power.
As far as assurances of supply of nuclear fuel are concerned, the Secretariat will facilitate follow-up discussions in light of the recent deliberations in the Board of Governors, with a view to achieving a framework acceptable to all.
Enhancing nuclear safety and security will remain indispensable. I will encourage all Member States that have not yet done so to implement all of the relevant safety conventions and codes of conduct.
President Obama´s decision to host a summit on nuclear security in April highlights the importance of this issue. I am looking forward to attending that meeting.
In the area of non-proliferation, I see my role as being to ensure that safeguards agreements are concluded and fully implemented, to provide Member States with factual and objective information and analysis, and to act in accordance with relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the Agency´s Board of Governors.
I trust the Agency will have the full cooperation of all Member States.
The bringing into force, and implementation, of additional protocols are of vital importance for the Agency to be able to provide assurances about the exclusively peaceful nature of a country´s nuclear programme.
I hope we will pass the threshold of 100 additional protocols in force early in my tenure as Director General.
The modernisation of our Safeguards Analytical Laboratories at Seibersdorf is a long overdue issue.
I aim to ensure that the extension of the Clean Laboratory and installation of the Large Geometry Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (LG-SIMS) for particle analysis will be completed by 2011.
In the area of nuclear disarmament, I welcome the commitment of the United States and the Russian Federation to making significant cuts in their nuclear arsenals and am pleased that they are reporting progress in their negotiations on a replacement for the START treaty.
I am hopeful that, in the next year, we will see a successful outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, that progress will be made on the entry into force of the CTBT and that negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty will commence.
I also look forward to reading the report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, a joint initiative of the Japanese and Australian governments.
Finally, I come to the management of the Agency. The IAEA is a successful, well-run organization, which is recognised for the high quality of its management.
But we must not be complacent and can never slacken in our efforts to deliver, as efficiently and effectively as possible, the services Member States expect. There is always room for improvement.
I will work hard to bring out the best in our excellent staff, as well as to improve coordination and communication, both within the house and with you, the Member States.
As Director General, it is my personal responsibility to ensure good management. I know I can count on guidance and support from all of you as I fulfil the challenging task you have entrusted to me of leading our day-to-day operations.
Thank you for joining me this evening. Next time, I hope to see you in my new apartment, which I have just found. I wish you all a peaceful, restful and enjoyable holiday season.