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Acting Director General's Statement to the 74th Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York, USA

IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta. (Photo: Evan Schneider/UN)

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr President,

Staff and Member States of the International Atomic Energy Agency were deeply saddened by the untimely death of our Director General, Yukiya Amano, in July.

A veteran diplomat and expert in nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, he had led the Agency with distinction for nearly 10 years.

Director General Amano was passionately committed to helping developing countries make full use of nuclear science and technology to generate electricity, produce more food, manage water supplies, treat cancer – and in many other areas.

Last month, the IAEA Board of Governors appointed Mr Rafael Grossi to serve as the next Director General for a four-year term starting on December 3rd. I wish him every success during his term of office.

Mr President,

The IAEA Annual Report 2018 details important recent developments in all areas of our activities.

The motto Atoms for Peace and Development, which is part of the legacy of Director General Amano, encapsulates the unique dual role of the Agency.

We contribute to international peace and security by verifying that nuclear material remains in peaceful uses, and we help to improve the well-being and prosperity of the people of the world through the peaceful use of nuclear technology.   

The Agency contributes directly to the achievement of nine of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and indirectly to several more.

Our safeguards inspectors are on the road every day of the year, keeping track of nuclear material to verify that it is not diverted from peaceful activities.

We serve as the global platform for cooperation in nuclear safety and security, helping countries to keep nuclear and radioactive material and technologies safe, and out of the hands of terrorists and other criminals.

 Despite pressure on our budget in recent years, we have continued to deliver high-quality services. We have seen steady growth in our membership over the decades and a constant increase in demand for our services.

Mr President,

The Agency now implements safeguards for 183 States. The number of facilities, and the quantities of nuclear material, under IAEA safeguards continue to grow. The number of States with additional protocols in force stands at 136.

In the past year, we have continued to verify and monitor Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

We continued to keep the IAEA Board of Governors and the Security Council informed of developments related to the implementation by Iran of its commitments under the JCPOA, including the latest ones, on the installation of new advanced centrifuges and enrichment related activities. I have just informed the IAEA Board about the resumption of uranium enrichment at Fordow.

Last week, I informed our Board of Governors about a matter regarding the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations under its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.

It is important for Iran to respond substantively and satisfactorily to Agency questions concerning a location in Iran. I hope that, after the Board meeting last week, substantive engagement by Iran will lead to the clarification of all relevant aspects.

The Agency will continue to engage with Iran in an effort to resolve this issue.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue.

Mr President,

It is more than 10 years since IAEA inspectors were required to leave the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Agency continues to monitor the DPRK’s nuclear programme, including through satellite imagery.

The DPRK’s nuclear activities remain a cause for serious concern. They are a clear violation of relevant Security Council resolutions and are deeply regrettable. 

The Agency remains ready to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.

I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency and to resolve all outstanding issues. 

As far as safeguards implementation in the Syrian Arab Republic is concerned, our assessment remains that it was very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site in 2007 was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared to the Agency by Syria under its Safeguards Agreement.

I call on Syria to cooperate fully with the Agency in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations.

Mr President,

The IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme is our key mechanism for helping Member States to make optimal use of peaceful nuclear science and technology.

The main focus of Technical Cooperation spending last year was on health and nutrition, nuclear safety, and food and agriculture. It is important that TC funding be maintained at a level that ensures we can meet growing demand for Agency services.

This year, we have provided prompt assistance to Member States in response to crises.

In Bangladesh, for example, an emergency mission including experts from the Agency and the World Health Organisation visited the capital Dhaka to assess the feasibility of applying the sterile insect technique to control the worst outbreak of dengue fever since 2000.

Cancer remains a key focus of our work.

In September, the IAEA and WHO launched a Roadmap towards a National Cancer Control Programme, which sets out milestones which countries can follow in establishing nuclear medicine, diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy services.

The installation of the IAEA’s first Linear Accelerator at our Dosimetry Laboratory this year enables us to provide expanded dosimetry calibration services to Member States, helping to ensure that cancer patients receive exactly the right dose of radiation.

This was part of the modernisation of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories, one of the most important projects ever undertaken by the Agency, which is now at an advanced stage. 

In August, the Insect Pest Control Laboratory was handed over by the contractor and we began a phased transition into operation. The new Flexible Modular Laboratory building, now known as The Yukiya Amano Laboratories, will be ready for use next April.

Mr President,

The Agency’s latest annual projections show that nuclear power will continue to play a key role in the world’s low-carbon energy mix, despite a declining trend for installed capacity up to 2050.

Last month, we held an International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power. The conference provided a platform for objective discussion of the scientific case for making more use of nuclear power to help combat climate change.

The IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Kazakhstan, which is intended to provide assurance to countries about the availability of nuclear fuel for nuclear power reactors, became operational in October when the first shipment of LEU was delivered.

Mr President,

The great benefits of nuclear technologies are sustainable only if they are used safely and securely.

IAEA Safety Standards are used by almost all countries to protect people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation. This year, we completed a revision of the structure of the safety standards to make them stronger and easier to use.

The next IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security will take place at ministerial level in Vienna next February. I expect the Conference to consolidate our achievements in nuclear security in the past decade and to help shape our approach in the coming years.

Mr President,

Increasing the proportion of women on the Agency’s staff, especially at senior levels, remains a priority. For the first time, women represent more than 30% of staff at the Professional level and above.

Finally, Mr President, I express my thanks to the IAEA Board of Governors for the confidence it placed in me as Acting Director General, and to all Member States for their active support for the Agency.

I am most grateful to Agency staff for their hard work and commitment. The continued professionalism, loyalty and dedication of the Agency’s staff make the IAEA what it is: an organization of excellence.

Thank you.

Last update: 03 Dec 2019

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