IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei opened what is expected to be a busy Board of Governors meeting this week in Vienna by addressing IAEA activities related to a range of issues.
The Director General opened the meeting by reviewing recent IAEA developments, including the release to the Board of the IAEA´s Annual Report for 2007 and the Safeguards Implementation Report for 2007, two critical documents that keep Member States apprised of the IAEA´s work. Both reports will be discussed by the Board this week with a view to later consideration by the IAEA General Conference in September.
On the topic of safeguards, the Director General addressed the status of implementation in several states. Regarding verification of Iran´s nuclear programme, Dr. ElBaradei said, "it is regrettable that we have not made the progress we had hoped for with respect to the one remaining major issue, namely clarification of the cluster of allegations and Secretariat questions relevant to possible military dimensions to Iran´s nuclear programme. The so-called alleged [weaponization] studies remain a matter of serious concern." He then stated that over the last half-decade of verification activities, substantial progress has been made, but also called on Iran to "demonstrate the necessary transparency and provide full disclosure" to allow the IAEA to reach a conclusion on the nature of the Iranian programme as soon as possible.
Dr. ElBaradei also updated Board members on the status of safeguards in Syria, owing to information provided to the IAEA in April of a Syrian installation destroyed by Israel in September 2007 that was claimed to be a nuclear reactor. He noted that an IAEA team will visit Syria from 22-24 June and expressed hope that Syria will fully cooperate on the matter. Dr. ElBaradei further expressed regret that information regarding the installation was not provided to the IAEA in a timely manner and that unilateral force was used before the Agency could establish factual basis to the claims.
He also updated the Board on issues related to nuclear applications, nuclear safety and security, and IAEA management issues. On the topic of concerns over global food security, Dr. ElBaradei noted that the Agency´s efforts to utilize nuclear techniques to help produce new crop varieties is expected to increase in the coming years. He also announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the IAEA´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) are working in tandem on a joint programme to combat cancer.
The Director General then thanked Professor Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico, and additional panel members of the Commission of Eminent Persons on the Future of the Agency for their report on the nature and scope of the IAEA´s work to 2020 and beyond. Calling the report "thoughtful and profound," Dr. ElBaradei asked Member States to give serious consideration to the panel´s recommendations. A full discussion on the report´s contents is slated for the September Board deliberations.
Before the meeting commenced, the Board observed a minute of silence for the victims of the recent natural disasters in Myanmar and China.