IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei today addressed the IAEA Board of Governors on several topics, including nuclear safety and security, assurance of fuel supply, the implementation of safeguards in Iran and other Agency matters. The Board is meeting this week in Vienna.
The Director General began his address by reviewing recent developments in nuclear safety and technology.
In April 2008, the IAEA will host the 4th review meeting of the Contracting Parties of the Convention on Nuclear Safety. The Convention was adopted in the late 1980s as part of steps to strengthen the global security regime. Dr. ElBaradei urged all countries that are considering nuclear power programmes to join the Convention. "The peer review mechanisms provide important opportunities to make sure we are doing everything possible to improve safety and prevent serious accidents," he said.
Citing rising interest in nuclear power for electricity generation, Dr. ElBaradei said that more countries are seeking IAEA assistance for energy analysis and planning, among other expert services. There is increased demand for Agency missions to countries interested specifically in starting nuclear power programmes, he said, noting that missions to seven countries were done over the past year.
On the topic of multilateral nuclear fuel cycles, Dr. ElBaradei said he expected countries to ask the IAEA Board to consider their proposals as they are more fully developed. A number of proposals are in various stages of development, he said, and more funds are being pledged toward setting up a fuel bank of last resort under IAEA auspices. "The ultimate goal, in my view, should be to bring sensitive aspects of the fuel cycle under multinational control, so that no one country has the exclusive capability to produce the material for nuclear weapons," he emphasized.
Regarding IAEA verification of Iran´s nuclear programme, Dr. ElBaradei said that since his November Board report, "the Agency was able to clarify important outstanding issues regarding the scope and nature of Iran´s declared enrichment programme - the acquisition of P-1 and P-2 centrifuge technologies." He then noted that the Agency has been able to clarify all but one of the remaining outstanding issues relevant to Iran´s past activities. "The one outstanding issue that is relevant to Iran´s past activities is the so-called alleged studies involving possible weaponization activities. These alleged studies, which are among the issues which the Security Council directed the Agency to clarify, came to the Agency´s attention in 2005. After a period during which Iran was reluctant to fully discuss this issue, Iran finally agreed in the work plan to address it. Iran continues to maintain that these alleged studies either relate to conventional weapons only, or are fabricated. However, a full-fledged examination of this issue has yet to take place."
Dr. ElBaradei then noted that the Agency will follow the required due process in continuing to clarify both the authenticity of the documentation related to the alleged studies, to the extent possible, and the substantive matters concerned. He then called on Iran to be as "active and as cooperative as possible in working with the Agency" to clarify matters related to its past nuclear activities.
Dr. ElBaradei concluded his presentation to the Board by urging Member States to consider funding an effort to streamline the IAEA´s business processes.