"I believe with all my heart and soul that nuclear weapons must be eliminated," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said during an address to the 23rd UN Conferences on Disarmament Issues, which is underway in Japan.
He highlighted the key role that the IAEA can play in this effort and reiterated his personal commitment to "work for a world free of all nuclear weapons"; a commitment which was made last year during the Nagasaki Peace Ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. He noted that establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East remains under consideration. And that he hopes there will be a forum on the matter this year.
"A central Agency function is to verify that States are fully complying with their non-proliferation obligations and to confirm that nuclear material is being used for peaceful purposes. This is our contribution to achieving the goal described in the title of this Conference Urgent and United Action towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World.
"My approach to nuclear verification since taking up office in December 2009 has been very straightforward: all safeguards agreements between Member States and the Agency, and other relevant obligations such as UN Security Council resolutions, should be implemented fully."
Mr. Amano then updated the conference on the status of safeguards implementation in three states that continue to concern the IAEA: Iran, Syria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The possibility of nuclear terrorism was simply not an issue in the 1950s. Today, it is high on the agenda of world leaders. Despite these changes, the Agency's "Atoms for Peace" mandate - making the benefits of nuclear science and technology available for peaceful, but not military, purposes - remains valid. My goal as Director General is to help our Member States to use nuclear techniques to meet the challenges they face in many areas in the 21st century," he said.
Discussion With Students
During his stay in Matsumoto following the UN Conference, the Director General took part in a classroom meeting with students from the local junior and senior high schools called, Let's talk about the IAEA with DG Amano. Some 130 students joined this event organized by the City of Matsumoto. After his introductory presentation on the IAEA's mandate and activities, the Director General replied to the students' questions, which ranged from nuclear disarmament to nuclear safety and nuclear energy. Some students voiced concerns about the safety of nuclear energy after the Fukushima accident and asked about the IAEA's contribution in this area. Others expressed their views about the future of nuclear energy. The question and answer session lasted for about an hour.