IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei opened a busy Board of Governors meeting today in Vienna, Austria, by addressing issues of technical cooperation, nuclear power, safety and security, and nuclear verification.
In his opening statement, Dr. ElBaradei referred to the newly-approved IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme for 2009-2011. He said, "This unique three-year cycle... responds to the development priorities identified by Member States, which have been closely involved in its formulation. I believe this is a strong programme. The responsibility for its implementation lies with Member States and the Agency and I look forward to a cohesive, focused and productive cycle."
On the issue of nuclear power, the Director General said, "More and more Member States are considering launching nuclear power programmes and asking the Agency for assistance... We anticipate a four-fold increase in the number of Technical Cooperation (TC) projects in 2009-2011 focused on the introduction of nuclear power. Projects on uranium exploration and production are also increasing."
He also pointed to increasing interest from Member States in the IAEA´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) as "reflecting the success of PACT Model Demonstration Sites and national and regional TC projects."
The Director General announced strides the IAEA and its partners have made in addressing the issue of food security. He pointed to Mexico´s successful eradication of the cactus moth in Mujeres and Contoy using the sterile insect technique. This has boosted economic development. "Likewise, Agency support led to the commercial development of two new rice varieties, one of which is suitable for patients with diabetes and the other for people suffering from obesity. Both are now on the market."
Addressing nuclear safety and security, he noted that the IAEA continues to promote the evolution and upgrading of the global nuclear safety and security regime.
With regard to nuclear verification, Dr. ElBaradei called on all states "to bring into force their comprehensive safeguards agreements and additional protocols without delay". The Director General also reported on the Agency´s progress with the implementation of safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Syrian Arab Republic.
Concerning DPRK, he said, "I still hope that the conditions will be created for the DPRK to return to the NPT soon and for the Agency to resume the implementation of comprehensive safeguards."
About Iran, he said, "There remain a number of outstanding issues, relevant to the alleged studies and associated questions identified in my last report to the Board, which give rise to concerns and need to be clarified in order to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran´s nuclear programme. Regrettably, the Agency has not been able to make substantive progress on these issues... I also still regret the fact that the Agency has not been able to share with Iran documentation provided by Member States. I call upon the Member States concerned to authorize the Agency to do so."
With regard to Syria he said, "For the Agency to complete its assessment, maximum transparency by Syria and the full sharing with the Agency of all relevant information which other States may have, are essential."
He also addressed general verification issues, such as refurbishment of the IAEA´s Safeguards Analytical Laboratory, verification procedures, and the lack of an independent UN satellite capability.
Finally, he reported on the IAEA´s efforts to increase its effectiveness in programme delivery. "An Agency that is effective and efficient will be better placed to meet your needs and priorities," he