IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei briefed the IAEA Board of Governors today on a range of issues, including nuclear safeguards, technical cooperation, and safety and security. The 35-member policymaking body meets this week in Vienna, days ahead of the IAEA General Conference of 145 Member States opening 29 September.
On the topic of safeguards, the Director General addressed the status of implementation in several states. Regarding the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Dr. ElBaradei said: "This morning, the DPRK authorities asked the Agency´s inspectors to remove seals and surveillance equipment to enable them to carry out tests at the reprocessing plant, which they say will not involve nuclear material. I still hope that conditions can be created for the DPRK to return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the earliest possible date and for the resumption by the Agency of comprehensive safeguards."
The Director General also updated Board members on the status of verification of Iran´s nuclear programme. "The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Regrettably, the Agency has not been able to make substantive progress on the alleged studies and associated questions relevant to possible military dimensions to Iran´s nuclear programme. These remain of serious concern," he said. He then called on Iran to "show full transparency and to implement all measures required to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme at the earliest possible date."
Regarding the implementation of safeguards in Libya, Dr. ElBaradei reported significant progress noting that the IAEA has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in the country. "I am pleased that the Agency is now able to implement safeguards in Libya in a routine manner. We will continue to work to reach a conclusion about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in the country," he said.
Dr. ElBaradei also updated the Board on the latest development regarding verification in Syria, with much of the attention focused on the Al Kibar location, where an installation was destroyed by Israel in September 2007. Following a June 2008 visit to Al Kibar, the IAEA asked the Syrian authorities to provide access to additional information and locations. "Syria has not yet responded to this request but has indicated that any further developments would depend on the results of the samples taken during the first visit. I trust that Syria will show maximum cooperation and transparency and provide all the information needed by the Agency to complete its assessment," he said.
The Director General also updated the Board on issues related to nuclear applications, nuclear safety and security, and IAEA management issues, noting that demand for technical cooperation from developing countries continues to grow. "A new three-year Technical Cooperation Programme has been finalized with an emphasis on food and agriculture, human health and natural resources. It also reflects a growing interest from developing countries in the possible introduction of nuclear power," he said.
On the issue of new nuclear energy programmes, Dr. ElBaradei stressed the importance of maintaining safety and security standards: "The use of the Agency´s systematic, integrated and tailored review services and compliance with IAEA Safety Standards should be a prerequisite at every stage of a State´s nuclear power development," he said. The 50th anniversary of the IAEA Safety Standards Programme is celebrated this year.
Finally, the Director General referred to the report prepared by the Commission of Eminent Persons on the nature and scope of the IAEA´s work to 2020 and beyond. "I encourage Board Members to engage in a structured discussion of the Commission´s Report. This could perhaps involve the establishment of issue-specific focus groups which would look into each area in which the Commission has made proposals and then make recommendations to the Board. It is clear that the work of the IAEA will be needed more and more in the decades to come. The decisions which Member States make in the coming months and years will determine how the Agency is able to respond to the challenges it continues to face," he concluded.