Speaking before the UN General Assembly, IAEA Head Mohamed ElBaradei said that the current challenges to international peace and security could not be "wished away". He said it was "urgent and indispensable" to continue to build a global security system that was both equitable and inclusive. Dr. ElBaradei addressed the General Assembly as it considered the IAEA´s annual report this week.
Following discussion, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the IAEA´s work. It welcomed the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005 to the IAEA and Dr. ElBaradei. The General Assembly reaffirmed its strong support for the Agency´s "indispensable role" and appealed to Member States to continue to support the IAEA´s activities.
In his statement, the Director General renewed his vision for the Agency´s work over the next four years.
Among the points is an explicit focus on "energy for development". For example, in Nigeria the per capita electricity consumption is about 70 kilowatt hours per year, in sharp contrast to the average 8000 kilowatt-hours per year used in most Western countries. The energy shortage in developing countries was a basic impediment to development, the Director General said.
Dr. ElBaradei told the General Assembly that the IAEA would continue to seek new applications of nuclear science that could provide concrete economic benefits to society in medical, agriculture, environment and other fields.
High on the verification agenda was for the IAEA to normalise safeguards in Iraq; bring North Korea back to the nuclear non-proliferation regime; provide the required assurances about Iran´s nuclear programme; universalise the additional protocol to allow more intrusive verification of a State´s nuclear programmes to prevent proliferation; and continue to investigate the nature and extent of the illicit nuclear procurement network.
He urged that multilateral approaches be put in place so that countries would no longer need to develop their own nuclear fuel cycle capabilities as their nucler fuel supply would be guaranteed. This would help to address concerns over sensitive nuclear proliferation operations, like uranium enrichment.
Safety & Security
In areas of nuclear safety, Dr. ElBaradei emphasised the need for national regulatory approaches that ensure "at all times high quality, independent oversight" for nuclear activities. He noted significant efforts to upgrade reactor safety with excellent results. However, facilities still exist at which nuclear safety assistance must be made a priority, he said.
Looking ahead, Dr. ElBaradei said it was important to develop a clearer picture of remaining security vulnerabilities. This included better understanding of the patterns of nuclear trafficking activity. Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, IAEA efforts had achieved tangible results to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism. Among them are strengthened physical protection at nuclear facilities and the recovery or enhanced security of hundreds of high intensity radioactive sources.
See Story Resources for the full statement to the UN General Assembly.