Atoms for Peace in the 21st Century

Lima, Peru

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivers his speech at the Diplomatic Academy in Lima, Peru, on 17 June. (Photo: C. Brady/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to be back in Peru. It is almost exactly five years since my last visit, when I also had the honour of addressing this distinguished Diplomatic Academy.

It has been a very eventful five years.

The last time I was in Lima, the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of March 2011 was uppermost in all our minds.

Since then, the damaged reactors have been brought back under control and an extensive clean-up operation is now underway. We provided extensive assistance to Japan, and IAEA Member States adopted an Action Plan on Nuclear Safety which has played an important part in strengthening global nuclear safety.

I also spoke to the Academy about some of the main nuclear verification issues on the IAEA’s agenda in 2011 – especially Iran, and North Korea. 

There has been considerable movement on the first of these in the past five years, but little progress on the other. I will say more about this in a moment.

When I was here in June 2011, the IAEA had 151 Member States. That number has grown steadily. Today, we have 168 Member States and we are seeing continued growth.

A high proportion of our new Member States are developing countries. They are very interested in the contribution which nuclear science and technology can make to development. And that is what I would like to focus on in my remarks this evening.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Science is fundamental for development, and technological advances are a must if we are to tackle the many challenges that face humankind today.

Those challenges include generating enough energy, tackling climate change, producing enough food to provide for a growing world population, and making the benefits of modern health care available to everyone.

The IAEA is active in all of these areas. The impact of our work to make nuclear science and technology available to generate electricity, improve human and animal health, and increase food production is significant.

In a nutshell, our mandate is Atoms for Peace and Development.

Peru was a founder member of the IAEA in 1957. In the last ten years, the main focus of IAEA technical cooperation in Peru has been on human health, the environment, mining, industry and farming. These are the priorities set by your country.

Let me mention just a few examples.

The IAEA has worked with the National Agrarian University at La Molina to develop new varieties of quinoa and barley, using nuclear techniques. These can be grown in difficult conditions at high altitudes in the Andes Mountains. Farmers do not have to change their traditional growing methods.

One variety of barley, known as Centenario II, is now being grown by around 15,000 farmers in Peru and covers nearly a fifth of farmland dedicated to barley. It has boosted farmers' incomes and contributed a great deal to the economy.

IAEA scientists are also working with their counterparts in your country to reduce the damage caused to fruit and vegetable crops by insect pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly. This involves using radiation to sterilise male insects.

Certain fruit flies have already been completely eradicated in the southern Tacna and Moquegua regions, using what we call the sterile insect technique.

The IAEA has worked closely with your country in upgrading your RP-10 research reactor. Its work includes producing radiopharmaceuticals used in cancer treatment.

Current IAEA programmes in Peru include helping to provide treatment to patients suffering from severe burns, and improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IAEA is unique within the UN system in having eight nuclear applications laboratories near Vienna.

They train scientists, support research in human health, food and other areas, and provide analytical services to national laboratories.

More than 50 scientists from Peru have spent time at the laboratories as fellows or scientific visitors. They work with other top international scientists in their fields and return home to share their expertise with their colleagues.

A comprehensive modernisation of the laboratories is now underway. Once completed, the laboratories will be better able to serve the interests of all Member States.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The best known peaceful application of nuclear technology is nuclear power. Many countries see nuclear power as a stable and clean source of energy that can help to mitigate the impact of climate change.

The Fukushima Daiichi accident put a global spotlight on nuclear safety. Safety is a national responsibility, but the IAEA brings countries together to agree international nuclear safety standards, learn from each other's experience and provide specialist training.

I have visited many nuclear power plants in the past few years, and in each one, I have seen a strengthening in safety features. The idea that “Safety Comes First” is unchallenged. Nuclear power is now safer, throughout the world, than it was before Fukushima Daiichi.

Around 30 countries are considering introducing nuclear power, on top of the 30 countries that already have it.

It is up to each country to decide whether or not to introduce nuclear power. The IAEA does not attempt to influence countries’ decisions. If they opt for nuclear power, our job is to help them use it safely, securely and sustainably.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I mentioned, there have been very important developments on Iran in the past five years.

As you may recall, the IAEA had worked from 2003 onwards to try to resolve outstanding safeguards issues with Iran. For years, little or no progress was made. But we started to see some movement in the autumn of 2013.

This ultimately led to agreement last year between Iran and the group of countries known as the P5+1 on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Last December, I presented a report to the IAEA Board of Governors entitled Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran's Nuclear Programme.

My report stated that Iran had conducted a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device prior to the end of 2003. However, these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.

My report paved the way for the IAEA Board to close its consideration of outstanding issues related to the Iranian nuclear programme. 

The IAEA is now in charge of undertaking verification and monitoring of Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.

We are still in the early stages of a new process. In the coming months and years, the continuing strong commitment of all parties will be needed to make implementation sustainable. 

Unfortunately, I cannot report progress on the other major verification issue which I mentioned five years ago – North Korea.

I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It is deeply regrettable that the DPRK has shown no indication that it is willing to comply with the Security Council resolution adopted in response to its nuclear test earlier this year.

The Agency remains ready to contribute to the peaceful resolution of this issue by resuming its verification activities once a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

That concludes my brief overview of key IAEA activities since my last visit to your beautiful country.

Let me reiterate that Peru remains an important partner for the Agency. We will continue to work closely together on the safe and smart use of nuclear science and technology for the benefit of all of your people.

Thank you.