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Grossi Expresses Concern to IAEA Board about Safeguards in Iran; Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi delivers his remarks at the opening of the Board of Governors meeting today at the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The IAEA cannot confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, Director General Rafael M. Grossi told the IAEA’s Board of Governors today.

In addressing the opening session of the Board’s regular quarterly meeting, Mr Grossi said that the IAEA has completed the steps set out in the Joint Statement between Iran and the IAEA on 5 March, but Iran has “not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the Agency’s findings at three undeclared locations in Iran.” Iran has also not informed the IAEA “of the current location, or locations, of the nuclear material and/or of the equipment contaminated with nuclear material, that was moved from Turquzabad in 2018,” Mr Grossi said.

“The Agency remains ready to re-engage without delay with Iran to resolve these matters,” he said.

Nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine

Mr Grossi emphatically reiterated his determination to lead an expert mission to the plant, saying: “We must find a solution to the hurdles preventing progress at Zaporizhzhya NPP. I will not stop pursuing this and I count on your active support.”

He noted that Ukraine’s government had last week called on him to lead such a mission, and that the Ukrainian regulator had earlier informed the IAEA that it had “lost control over the facility’s nuclear material”.

“One clear line of Ukrainian operational control and responsibility is vital, not only for the safety and security of Zaporizhzhya NPP, but also so that IAEA safeguards inspectors are able to continue to fulfil their regular, indispensable verification activities,” he said.

Mr Grossi spoke of the dire situation at the plant, the site of which remains under the control of Russian troops. He again pointed out the pressure on Ukrainian staff working at the plant and informed the Board about the concern that some spare parts were not getting to the plant due to supply chain interruptions. “This means now at least five of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised,” he said referring to the pillars he enumerated at the IAEA’s previous board meeting as essential to ensure safe and secure operations of any nuclear power plant.

Ongoing collaboration with Ukraine’s authorities on the safety and security of all the country’s nuclear installations remains a key focus of the IAEA’s work, Mr Grossi said. The IAEA’s immediate on-the-ground assistance at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant and Exclusion Zone, is focused on radiation protection, the safety of radioactive waste management and strengthening nuclear security. For more details on assistance provided by the IAEA technical mission that travelled to Chornobyl last week, along with its safeguards activities, see this Update.

Member States are also providing support, via the IAEA. “Due to its mandate, experience and network, the IAEA is well-positioned to ensure Ukraine gets what it needs efficiently and quickly,” he said. “Countries and organisations wanting to assist Ukraine’s nuclear energy sector are already working with and through us.”

Safeguards and verification

Mr Grossi informed the Board about ongoing discussions with Brazil regarding the use of nuclear material under safeguards in nuclear propulsion and in the operations of submarines and prototypes. “I commend Brazil for its transparent approach and decision to work closely with the Agency on this important project,” he said.

He briefed the Board about the status of putting in place nuclear safeguards for Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines from the United States and the United Kingdom, an initiative referred to as AUKUS. “I would like to express my satisfaction with the engagement and transparency shown by the three countries thus far,” he said.   

The IAEA has observed indications that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), often referred to as North Korea, may be preparing for a nuclear test. “The conduct of a nuclear test would contravene UN Security Council resolutions and would be a cause for serious concern,” Mr Grossi said. He also listed various indications of activity regarding the country’s nuclear programme at Yongybyon, Kangson and Pyongsan.

“I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under relevant UN Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in the full and effective implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to resolve all outstanding issues, especially those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country,” Mr Grossi said.

He informed the Board of a letter he sent to Syria’s authorities last month, asking the country to re-engage with the IAEA in relation to the implementation of the country’s safeguards agreement. “I am convinced that such a renewed effort would be mutually beneficial.  I hope this invitation is met with the approval of the Syrian government. It is time.”

IAEA Board of Governors. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Technical cooperation

The Board this week will consider the IAEA’s Annual Report Technical Cooperation Report for 2021. The IAEA supported 146 countries and territories, including 34 of the world’s 46 least developed countries, through the technical cooperation programme last year, Mr Grossi said.

Support included assistance to Member States on improving preparedness for future pandemics via the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC), aimed at strengthening analytical capacities of laboratories worldwide in the timely detection and prevention of zoonotic diseases similar to COVID-19. This week, the IAEA will hold a workshop to provide an update to ZODIAC counterparts on recent outbreaks of Monkeypox and Lassa fever. 

Under the Rays of Hope initiative, the technical cooperation programme is prioritizing support in cancer care to the most vulnerable countries in order to increase access to radiotherapy as part of overall cancer management. “More than 20 countries have now registered their interest in joining our six inaugural Rays of Hope country partners with whom we launched the initiative on the side-lines of the Africa Union summit in February,” Mr Grossi said.

More than 80 countries are now participating in NUTEC Plastics, a flagship initiative on protecting oceans from plastics pollution, Mr Grossi said, and over 20 technical cooperation projects have been approved by the Board. (To learn more about what NUTEC Plastics means in practice, see this photo story from the Philippines.)

Much of the IAEA’s technical work in nuclear applications depends on the work of the Agency’s laboratories, Mr Grossi said, calling on governments in a position to do so to close the remaining €6 million funding gap to complete the renovation and modernization of the labs.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Mr Grossi introduced the IAEA’s first Nuclear Security Review and spoke of his visit last month to Japan, where the IAEA is reviewing Japan’s handling of the ALPS-treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. “I commend Prime Minister Kishida’s determination to work with the Agency on this important issue,” he said. The IAEA released the first in its series of reports in April.

Gender parity

Last month, the IAEA reached a new milestone towards its gender parity goal, Mr Grossi announced. Women now fill 40% of professional and higher positions at the Agency, an all-time high. “Efforts to attract, recruit and retain women from across all professional fields, and with as wide a geographical representation as possible, will continue so that we are able to reach full parity by 2025,” he said.

New Member States

Mr Grossi welcomed Saint Kitts and Nevis as well as Tonga as new Member States of the IAEA. The two island nations, which have joined since the last Board Meeting in March, will bring the total number of IAEA member countries to 175.

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