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IAEA Director General Hans Blix Addresses United Nations General Assembly

1996/23

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly today in New York, IAEA Director General Hans Blix underlined the Agency's growing role to help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to verify nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements. Dr. Blix also reviewed the changing agenda in other areas of nuclear energy's safe development worldwide.

"With the nuclear arms race over, a number of arms control or disarmament treaties have been concluded or are in the making that may require additional verification tasks from the IAEA," he said. In this context, he noted that the United States and Russian Federation are exploring with the IAEA technical and other issues connected to the further verification of certain nuclear material from dismantled nuclear weapons. Verification in nuclear-weapon States, he said, can provide "assurance that fissionable material from dismantled weapons does not go into new weapons". Additionally, he noted, it could assure that a possible future cut-off agreement prohibiting the production of plutonium or highly enriched uranium for weapons is respected.

In reviewing the IAEA's verification role, Dr. Blix also pointed to the increasing number of regional nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties and to the longstanding multilateral Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which all require and rely upon IAEA safeguards. Though the recently adopted Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will have its own verification organization, Dr. Blix emphasized the IAEA's existing role under the NPT, which obliges non-nuclear-weapon States to refrain from nuclear weapons tests and entrusts the verification of these obligations to the IAEA.

Dr. Blix underlined the IAEA's ongoing efforts to strengthen its safeguards system, noting that many measures already have been introduced under the Agency's existing legal authority. Other measures that go beyond this authority remain under discussion by the IAEA's Board of Governors. Most of these measures have been tried out in several States without great problems for the Agency or the State concerned, Dr. Blix said. While a few other countries have raised objections about the burden they may impose, Dr. Blix said the measures were needed for improving the IAEA's verification capabilities. "Regrettably, as we all know from our experience of controls at airports, security against possible violations by a few requires some inconveniencing of many," he said.

Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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