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IAEA Focused on Delivering Concrete Results, Director General Says at UN

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivered his statement at the 72nd Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA, 10 November 2017.  (Video: UN Web TV)

United Nations -- Director General Yukiya Amano addressed the United Nations General Assembly today and spoke about developments and milestones reached over the past year in the IAEA’s efforts to improve the lives of people around the world through the use of nuclear science and technology.

In his annual statement to the world body, he highlighted the IAEA’s work to support sustainable development by transferring knowledge and expertise in areas such as energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health.

“Delivering concrete results in everything to do with Atoms for Peace and Development will remain my focus in the coming years,” Mr Amano told the 72nd regular session of the General Assembly.

He singled out important achievements, including progress in the extensive modernisation of the IAEA’s eight nuclear application laboratories outside Vienna.

“This is one of the most important projects ever undertaken by the Agency, with investment likely to total around 60 million euros,” Mr Amano said. “When completed in a few years’ time, the expanded laboratory complex will greatly increase our capabilities as a technology holder, to the benefit of all 168 IAEA Member States.”  

As part of the project, a new Insect Pest Control Laboratory was inaugurated in September to help countries to use nuclear techniques to control pests such as mosquitoes, tsetse flies and fruit flies that spread disease and damage crops.

Turning to energy, he said nuclear power was likely to make a growing contribution to sustainable development in the coming decades. As this energy form produces virtually no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, he said increased use of nuclear power – and of renewables – will help countries to achieve their climate change goals. He also highlighted the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century that took place in Abu Dhabi 10 days ago.

On the IAEA’s work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, the Director General said 182 countries now have safeguards agreements. Of those, one hundred and thirty countries have additional protocols in force, giving the IAEA wider access to information and locations. “I encourage all countries to implement the additional protocol,” he said.

He updated the General Assembly on the IAEA’s verification and monitoring of Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was agreed in 2015.

“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented,” Mr Amano said. “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.” 

He expressed serious concern, however, about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and called its nuclear test in September – its sixth and largest – extremely regrettable. He urged the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the IAEA.

The IAEA is working to maintain readiness to return its inspectors – who had to leave in 2009 – to the country when political developments make this possible, he added.

While nuclear safety and security are national responsibilities, the IAEA plays a vital role in enabling countries to share experiences and best practices. On safety, Mr Amano said lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011 had now been incorporated into all IAEA nuclear safety requirements, ensuring that they become part of global safety practice. “Safety must always come first,” he said.

The IAEA is also expanding assistance aimed at helping to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way, Mr Amano said.

Mr Amano – who in June became an International Gender Champion as part of a leadership network to break down gender barriers – said the IAEA had significantly increased the proportion of women in the professional and higher staff categories to 29.4%, its highest level ever.

“But we can and must do better,” he said. “I made a commitment to increase the proportion of women at very senior level in the Agency.”

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