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IAEA Director General's Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

Mr Chairman,

I will begin by welcoming Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as a new Member State of the Agency. This brings our membership to 169 States.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Mr Chairman,

Two important nuclear safety documents are before the Board.

The Nuclear Safety Review 2018 provides an overview of global trends in nuclear safety. It presents priorities for 2018 and beyond, and indicates how we plan to further strengthen our work in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety.

The growing use of radioactive material in Member States increases the need for regulatory oversight, including of domestic and international transport. The 2018 edition of the Draft Safety Requirements: Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material contains a number of revisions. These include a requirement that packages storing radioactive waste should be transportable at the end of their storage period.

The 6th Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management will take place in Vienna from May 21 to June 1. The Joint Convention remains the only legally binding international instrument that addresses the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste at a global level. I encourage all countries which have not yet done so to become parties both to this Convention and to the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

We held a briefing for Member States last month on the Agency’s activities regarding measurements of Ruthenium-106 in Europe.

As far as nuclear security is concerned, we are implementing the Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2021, which the Board adopted by consensus last September.

Nuclear Energy

Mr Chairman,

The Nuclear Technology Review 2018 highlights global developments related both to nuclear power and to a broad range of applications, including nuclear techniques in food, soil and livestock management. It also covers new developments in radiotherapy and neuropsychiatry.   

As the best known peaceful application of nuclear technology, nuclear power helps countries to meet sustainable development and climate change goals. Today, there are 449 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries. Fifty-six reactors are under construction in 15 countries, 3 of which are newcomers.

The NTR also gives an overview of innovative nuclear power technologies, including small and medium sized or modular reactors and advanced fuel cycles. In order to strengthen international cooperation in the design, development and deployment of such reactors, the Agency has established a new Technical Working Group. It will meet for the first time next month.

At a UN conference in Bangkok last month, the Agency highlighted the valuable role of its energy modelling and planning tools in helping Member States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. These tools, already used by nearly 150 countries and 21 international organizations, enable experts to plan a country’s energy future, whether or not it includes nuclear power.

The Third International Conference on Human Resource Development for Nuclear Power Programmes, starting on May 28 in Gyeongju in the Republic of Korea, will focus on human resources needed to support safe and sustainable nuclear energy.

The Agency has launched a new service to assist Member States in the development of infrastructure for nuclear research reactors. The first Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review for Research Reactors (INIR-RR) mission was conducted last month in Nigeria.

Assurance of Supply

Regarding the IAEA LEU Bank in Kazakhstan, the LEU Acquisition Request for Proposal was issued in November 2017 and the closing date was 26 January. We are now in the evaluation stage of the procurement process.

The transit agreement between the IAEA and China has entered into force and negotiations on transport contracts with the Russian Federation, China and Kazakhstan are well advanced.

Nuclear Applications

Mr Chairman, 

I welcome the strong interest being shown by Member States in our Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology, which will take place in Vienna from November 28 to 30. This is our most important event of the year. I thank the Ambassadors of Costa Rica and Japan for leading the consultations, and I encourage all countries to be represented at ministerial level.

The ReNuAL/ReNuAL+ projects to modernize our nuclear applications laboratories at Seibersdorf are progressing well. The new linear accelerator facility for the Dosimetry Laboratory will become operational in the second half of 2018. Following the inauguration of the new Insect Pest Control Laboratory last September, we will launch the second new building, the Flexible Modular Laboratory, during the November Ministerial Conference. I am very grateful to the 33 Member States, and other contributors, which have donated over 32 million euros in financial and in-kind contributions to ReNuAL and ReNuAL+.

Following agreements with two companies on new equipment for two of the laboratories, we are seeking further private sector support. A list of equipment for the laboratories will be placed on the United Nations Global Marketplace, the common procurement portal of the UN system, and possible partners will be invited to express interest in making donations or loans. I would be grateful if you could make potential partnership candidates in your countries aware of this initiative.

 This year’s Scientific Forum in September will be entitled Nuclear Technology for Climate: Monitoring, Mitigation and Adaptation. It is part of our efforts to raise awareness of the important role of nuclear technology in both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the consequences of climate change.

Technical Cooperation

 Mr Chairman,

The Technical Cooperation programme remains the key mechanism for the delivery of IAEA services under our Atoms for Peace and Development mandate. In 2017, the TC implementation rate was 86.3%, an encouraging figure, which reflects the commitment and dedication of Member States and Agency staff, as well as increased regular budget funding for staff.

I had an opportunity to see the beneficial impact of our TC programme in recent visits to three African and three Asian countries. In Uganda, I attended the inauguration of a new Cobalt-60 radiotherapy machine. This enabled radiotherapy services to restart following the breakdown of the previous machine two years ago.

In Indonesia, we are working with UNIDO, FAO and the government to improve soyabean production and support the tempeh industry as part of the government’s food security strategy.

In the Philippines, I opened a workshop, attended by 19 countries, launching a new four-year regional project entitled Educating Secondary Students and Science Teachers on Nuclear Science and Technology. I am confident that this project will lead to an increase in the number of bright young people who take up studies in the nuclear field in the coming years.

Throughout the world, there are many excellent examples of South-South cooperation in the nuclear field, with countries with more advanced capabilities providing training and expertise to their neighbours. The Agency strongly supports such initiatives, which play an important role in helping us to deliver the TC programme.

The Agency continues to demonstrate its ability to respond quickly to emergencies in Member States. After the earthquake in Mexico in September 2017, we dispatched an expert mission to demonstrate the use of non-destructive testing techniques in determining whether damaged structures are at risk of collapse.

I thank Member States for their commitment to the TC programme, as reflected in the high rate of attainment. I remind you of the importance of contributing, on time and in full, to the TCF. Prompt payment of National Participation Costs is also essential.

Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr Chairman,

The Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for more than two years.

The JCPOA represents a significant gain for verification. As of today, I can state that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments. It is essential that Iran continues to fully implement those commitments. If the JCPOA were to fail, it would be a great loss for nuclear verification and for multilateralism.

The Agency has requested Iran to provide further clarifications regarding its plans relevant to the development of the nuclear fuel cycle related to naval nuclear propulsion.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. We have had access to all the sites and locations which we needed to visit. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols

You have before you a draft Safeguards Agreement, with a small quantities protocol, entitled An Agreement with the State of Palestine in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. As stated in a footnote to the draft agreement, the language used does not imply the expression of any opinion concerning the legal status of any country or territory, or of its authorities, or the delimitation of its frontiers.

Since the last Board, Algeria has signed an additional protocol. The number of States with safeguards agreements in force stands at 182, while 132 States have brought additional protocols into force.

I ask States Parties to the NPT without comprehensive safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay. I hope that States which have not yet concluded additional protocols will do so as soon as possible. I also call on States with small quantities protocols based on the old standard text to amend or rescind them.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Mr Chairman,

I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I again call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency, and to resolve all outstanding issues, including those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country.

The Agency continues to monitor the DPRK nuclear programme, including through the use of satellite imagery. We maintain our readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme. 

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic

As far as implementation of safeguards in the Syrian Arab Republic is concerned, there have been no new developments since my last report to the Board. I renew my call to Syria to cooperate fully with us in connection with all unresolved issues.

Management Issues

 Mr Chairman,

I will now turn to a number of management issues.

I issued the Draft Budget Update for 2019 at the end of January. It includes de-prioritisation and efficiency measures, as requested by the Board. As a result, the proposed budget shows less than zero real growth.

On Thursday this week, we will celebrate International Women’s Day with a panel discussion on Unconscious Bias, hosted by our Deputy Director General for Management, Mary Alice Hayward. I encourage all of you to join us at this event.

The Agency has made progress in hiring more women in the professional and higher categories in recent years, but more needs to be done. My goal is to achieve gender parity among the most senior officials by 2021. I ask for the support and understanding of Member States in achieving this goal.

Since I became Director General eight years ago, I have stated repeatedly that there is zero tolerance for all forms of unethical behaviour, including sexual harassment and bullying, at the Agency. I recently created the new position of Chief of Ethics to promote the highest standards of integrity in the Agency. The selected candidate will start work shortly.

Finally, Mr Chairman, I wish to inform you that my Special Assistant for Strategy, Mr Zef Mazi, will retire this month. I thank Zef for his important contribution to the work of the Agency and wish him good health and success in the future.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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