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IAEA Director General Briefs Board of Governors: COP27, Ukraine and Iran


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses the Agency's Board of Governors on 16 November 2022. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The IAEA’s presence at the United Nations climate change conference, COP27, as well as the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and verification and monitoring in Iran, were the focus of Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi’s address to the Agency’s Board of Governors today.

Mr Grossi told the Board that at the ongoing COP27, the IAEA has been showcasing the contribution of nuclear science and technology in climate change mitigation and adaptation at a first ever nuclear pavilion, the Atoms4Climate pavilion, led by the IAEA. Hosting a pavilion alongside an immense array of NGOs, the private sector and think tanks from all over the world indicated how “this Agency of ours is present whenever an issue of global interest which has a direct relation with our mandate, takes place,” he said.

Mr Grossi highlighted how nuclear energy has a place at the table in terms of climate change mitigation. “It is attracting even more attention in the present circumstances, compounded as well by the current energy crisis we are all suffering from all over the world,” he said.  In addition to the 32 countries that already use nuclear power, around 30 other countries are either embarking on, or considering, adding it to their energy mix. At the COP, Mr Grossi launched an IAEA Atoms4NetZero initiative, to work with countries to help model and measure the contribution of nuclear power to their net zero energy transitions.

In terms of adaptation to the impacts of climate change, Mr Grossi said: “We are helping countries deal with the problems that are associated with global warming.” At COP27, Mr Grossi emphasized that nuclear technology and science can and will do more, and the IAEA already plays an important role in facilitating this, particularly through its Technical Cooperation (TC) programme. The Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee met earlier this week to recommend to the Board the approval of the Agency’s proposed TC programme for 2023, in which the top three priority TC areas are food and agriculture, health and nutrition, and safety.

Situation in Ukraine

The Agency remains intensely engaged in response to the war in Ukraine. “The deployment of the IAEA in Ukraine is unprecedented,” Mr Grossi said, explaining that not only has the Agency been able to establish a permanent presence at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant through the IAEA's Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya, which, he said “is giving you everyday a clear idea of what is going on there”, but that the IAEA is also helping the technical staff at the plant face numerous challenges associated with the running of the largest, biggest nuclear power plant in Europe in wartime.

Mr Grossi reiterated his call to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant to ensure its physical integrity. “The situation underlying this proposal, at the origin of this proposal, has not changed,” he said. “We continue to experience repeated interruptions in the external power supply of the plant that is risking the possibility of a major nuclear accident.”

In the coming weeks, the IAEA will launch nuclear safety and security missions to three operating nuclear power plants in Ukraine – South Ukraine, Khmelnytskyi and Rivne Nuclear Power Plants – as well as to the country’s Chornobyl site.

Verification and monitoring in Iran

Mr Grossi told the Board: “We continue also in our efforts to be able to make progress in our work with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Iran has not implemented its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including its commitments under the Additional Protocol, since February 2021, he noted in a written statement to the Board. “As a consequence, the Agency has not been able to perform JCPOA verification and monitoring activities in relation to the production and inventory of centrifuges, rotors and bellows, heavy water and uranium ore concentrate for almost two years, including some five months when the surveillance and monitoring equipment were not installed,” Mr Grossi noted.

With regard to Iran’s NPT safeguards agreement, Mr Grossi noted that he hoped the planned technical meeting between the Agency and Iran would take place and stressed that this meeting should be aimed at effectively clarifying and resolving outstanding safeguards issues.

Activity in the DPRK

In his written statement, Mr Grossi called upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to comply fully with its obligations under relevant UN Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the IAEA 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. The Nuclear Test Site at Punggye-ri remains prepared to support a nuclear test, he noted in the statement, adding that the Agency continues to see indications of activity near Adit 3 of the Test Site.

IAEA initiatives

Mr Grossi remarked in his written statement that several initiatives launched by the IAEA over the past two years have galvanised the Agency’s work in key areas of concern to its Member States. These have included the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative, which supports countries’ efforts to address diseases that spread from animals to humans – known as zoonotic diseases; NUTEC Plastics, in which the IAEA partners with countries to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution and to strengthen ocean monitoring; and Rays of Hope, an initiative in which the IAEA provides countries with essential support in addressing the growing cancer crisis.

Mr Grossi also highlighted the IAEA’s new state-of-the-art Neutron Science Facility at its Seibersdorf laboratories, and thanked the Agency’s Member States for their strong support of both the facility and of the modernization of the Seibersdorf Nuclear Applications Laboratories, known as ReNuAL2.  

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