"The nuclear world has undergone some dramatic changes," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told diplomats gathered at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna on 19 January 2012.
The Fukushima Daiichi accident in March had a "significant impact on the Agency's work and we will be dealing with its consequences for years to come," he added. "The Agency intends to play its part in restoring confidence in the safety of nuclear power by helping to ensure that nuclear safety is more robust after Fukushima than before."
Global use of nuclear power will continue to grow in the coming decades, although at a slower pace than previously projected, and the IAEA's assistance to newcomer countries, especially those which are most advanced on the road to having operational reactors, will remain a high priority.
The Director General recalled that, on taking office two years ago, he had pledged "unwavering commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and stressed that all safeguards agreements and other relevant obligations must be implemented in full." In the meantime, he noted, the number of additional protocols in force had risen steadily, a positive trend which he hoped would continue.
The Director General's key priority in 2012 will be "to try to make progress towards restoring international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme." "This is the most important of the major safeguards issues on our agenda," he said. Director General Amano said a senior team from the IAEA, led by Deputy Director General for Safeguards, Herman Nackaerts, would visit Iran towards the end of January. "I am fully committed to working constructively with Iran and I trust that Iran will approach our forthcoming discussions in an equally constructive spirit," he said.
Director General Amano emphasized that making the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology available to developing countries would remain high on the Agency's agenda. During his travels, he recalled, he had seen at first-hand "how much the Agency's assistance matters to the thousands of people who benefit from our food, water or health projects."
Demands for the Agency's services in all areas continued to increase. The Director General said he counted upon Member States to ensure that IAEA has the resources needed to do the job the Member States expect.