Helping countries meet their development needs using nuclear technology was one of the main points addressed by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in his introductory statement to the Agency's Board of Governors today. He also congratulated Guyana on becoming the 163rd Member State of the IAEA, and spoke about nuclear energy, nuclear verification, technical cooperation and nuclear applications, as well as nuclear safety and security.
Strengthening nuclear security
Mr Amano called on Member States who had not yet done so to become party to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The Convention establishes measures related to the prevention, detection and punishment of offences relating to nuclear material, while the 2005 Amendment strengthens provisions for States Parties to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage and transport.
"Entry into force of the Amendment is within our grasp," the Director General said. "As of today, we need 17 States to become party to the Amendment to bring it into force. I encourage all States which have not yet done so to become party to the Amendment so it comes into force this year."
Peace and development
In describing the IAEA’s work in international development, Mr Amano underscored the impact of nuclear technology in meeting global needs. "When I visit Member States, I see first-hand the great importance of the Agency's work to make nuclear technologies available for development. It is gratifying to observe the beneficial impact this remarkable technology has on the lives of millions of people."
He highlighted the Agency's involvement in technical cooperation projects, including a new project designed to support Africa's regional capacities for responding to diseases like the Ebola Virus Disease, which broke out in 2014. "The project will support the establishment of early warning systems and build national and regional capacity for the fast and sensitive diagnosis of zoonotic diseases," Mr Amano said. These are infectious diseases of animals, like Ebola, that can be transmitted to humans.
Much of the IAEA's assistance to Member States is supported by the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria. These laboratories are undergoing modernization under the ReNuAL project, which is now "moving into a critical period as far as extrabudgetary contributions are concerned," said Mr Amano. Commitments of extrabudgetary financial contributions are needed by June to enable construction to begin this year, he noted. "I again appeal to all Member States to contribute generously, and I thank those that have already done so."
Turning to the implementation of safeguards, Mr Amano expressed concern about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). He called upon the DPRK to resolve all outstanding issues, including complying fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions.
Regarding Iran, Mr Amano said: "The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities." The Agency continues the monitoring and verification of nuclear-related activities set out in the Joint Plan of Action agreed between Iran and the E3+3 countries, and remains ready to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues under the Framework for Cooperation between Iran and the Agency.
Looking toward the future, Mr Amano shared the IAEA's priorities for 2016 to 2017 with the Board. These include a continued focus on nuclear energy, technical cooperation and the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy, as well as nuclear safety, nuclear security and the ongoing work at the Seibersdorf laboratories.
In closing, the Director General underlined the IAEA's commitment to increasing the representation of women at all levels within the Agency.