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

Vienna, Austria

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivering his introductory statement to the Board of Governors meeting. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr Chairman,

I am pleased to welcome Grenada as a new Member State of the IAEA. This brings our membership to 170 countries.

Mr Chairman,

A number of important reports are on the agenda of this meeting.

The Annual Report for 2017 is the Board’s report to the General Conference. It provides a summary of significant Agency activities to promote peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology, enhance nuclear safety and security, and implement safeguards.

Technical Cooperation

Mr Chairman,

As detailed in the Technical Cooperation Report for 2017, the main focus of TC spending last year was on nuclear safety and security, health and nutrition, and food and agriculture.

Nuclear and radiation safety remains a priority for the Agency and for Member States as the use of radiation technology continues to grow.

A regional IAEA technical cooperation project in Africa has helped Member States to use nuclear techniques to develop better crops. Varieties of rice which are tolerant of drought and resistant to blast disease have been developed in Egypt, while Namibia has developed higher-yielding cowpea and sorghum, which are also resistant to drought. Zimbabwe released an improved cowpea variety in 2017.

As part of a regional project to strengthen waste management capacity in Latin America, disused sealed sources were recovered from a mine in Honduras and prepared for transport to the national storage facility.

I remind all Member States of the importance of maintaining TC funding at a level that ensures the Agency can meet the growing demand for our services. I ask all countries to contribute on time, and in full, to the TCF.

Mr Chairman,

Cancer remains an important focus of our work. I saw for myself this year the rapid progress Zambia has made in improving access to cancer treatment, thanks to significant IAEA support. The Cancer Diseases Hospital of Lusaka has become a role model for countries in the region. I also had the privilege of being present in Uganda when radiotherapy services were restored after a two-year interruption due to the failure of old equipment. We helped Uganda to acquire a new Cobalt-60 machine.

Our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) has helped countries to prepare so-called “bankable documents,” which enabled them to raise many millions of dollars for their cancer programmes from funding institutions. Malawi, for example, received 13.5 million US dollars from the OPEC Fund for International Development to launch its first dedicated cancer treatment facility after presenting proposals prepared with Agency assistance.

Mr Chairman,

An internal audit conducted by the Office of Internal Oversight Services identified certain shortcomings and weaknesses in relation to the Division of PACT. I have been working for some months with Deputy Directors General on how best to implement the recommendations made.

In considering the Agency’s cancer control activities, we should not lose sight of the big picture. Our objective is to save lives. We take a one-house approach with that end in mind. Our assistance is provided through regional divisions of the Department of Technical Cooperation, supported by the Division of Human Health as well as by the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and the Office of Legal Affairs. Of course, PACT has an important role to play, but it is one part of the Agency’s activities in the cancer field.

As the lack of a unified approach was one of the issues identified by the OIOS audit, my office will in due course take charge of coordination of cancer related issues, both internally and externally. The PACT Division will remain in the Department of Technical Cooperation. PACT will concentrate on basics such as imPACT missions and fund-raising, and on helping countries to prepare bankable documents, in line with the Agency’s mandate. Some structural adjustment of the PACT Division may be required, which may take time because we need to follow established administrative procedures.

IAEA support is greatly valued by Member States and by the many thousands of cancer patients who have benefited. We can all take pride in the many successful and life-saving cancer projects which we have implemented in cooperation with Member States. I will ensure that the necessary lessons are learned from the PACT experience.

Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology

Mr Chairman,

As you know, our Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology 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.

Nuclear Applications

Mr Chairman,

The modernisation of our nuclear applications laboratories at Seibersdorf continues to progress well. In the coming months, the new Insect Pest Control Laboratory will become operational, as will the new linear accelerator facility. The Flexible Modular Laboratory building will be inaugurated during the Ministerial Conference.

I thank the 34 Member States and other contributors which have provided over 32 million euros to ReNuAL and ReNuAL+. However, additional resources are being sought to equip and set up the laboratories. I encourage all Member States in a position to do so to contribute. The Board may recall that we have begun seeking private-sector donations, or loans of equipment, for the laboratories through the United Nations Global Marketplace portal. I encourage you to make potential partners in your countries aware of this initiative.

In October, I will travel to Monaco to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the IAEA Environment Laboratories moving to their current location. I am very grateful to the Principality of Monaco for its generous support. I hope that many of you will be able to join us for this celebration.

I remind the Board that this year’s Scientific Forum in September will be entitled Nuclear Technology for Climate: Mitigation, Monitoring and Adaptation.  

Nuclear Safety and Security

Mr Chairman,

I attended the opening of 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 that concluded last week. I encourage all countries which have not yet done so to become parties to the Joint Convention and the Convention on Nuclear Safety. The Agency has published a strategic plan to guide remediation of former uranium production sites in Central Asia. This is the culmination of several years of work involving close cooperation among the Agency, Member States and partners, including the European Commission.

The Guidance on the Management of Disused Radioactive Sources, which was approved by the Board and endorsed by the General Conference last year, has now been published. I encourage all Member States to make use of it.

The Agency conducted the largest ConvEx-3 exercise to date a year ago to evaluate international emergency response arrangements and capabilities for a severe nuclear emergency. I thank Hungary for hosting the exercise and encourage other Member States to consider hosting the next ConvEx-3 exercise, planned for 2021.

The third IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security at ministerial level will be held in Vienna in February 2020. The programme committee will hold its first meeting next month.

I thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous contribution to the Nuclear Security Fund.

Nuclear Energy

Mr Chairman,

I will now turn briefly to nuclear energy.

The 450 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries today provide about 11% of the world’s electricity and a third of all low carbon electricity. In April, Turkey became the fourth country in recent years to begin construction of its first nuclear power plant, following the United Arab Emirates, Belarus and Bangladesh. Fifty-nine nuclear power reactors are under construction in 17 countries.

The Agency conducted an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission in Niger. Three more INIR missions are scheduled in 2018 – in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The new Technical Working Group on Small and Medium Sized or Modular Reactors held its first meeting in April. It will make recommendations to the Agency on developing support to Member States in this area. The Third International Conference on Human Resource Development for Nuclear Power Programmes, held last week in Gyeongju in the Republic of Korea, attracted some 520 participants from 51 Member States.

This month, we will hold an International Symposium on Uranium Raw Material for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle. This major event on the front end of the fuel cycle will cover almost everything to do with uranium, from exploration and mining to environmental issues.

The Agency’s Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation missions, known as ARTEMIS, are attracting growing interest. Three ARTEMIS reviews have been conducted so far and 15 more countries have requested reviews.

You have before you for approval a draft project and supply agreement concerning the transfer of low enriched uranium from China to Nigeria, through the Agency. This will allow for the continued operation of Nigeria’s miniature neutron research reactor; which Nigeria is converting from the use of high enriched uranium fuel.

Assurance of Supply

Mr Chairman,

Concerning the IAEA LEU Bank in Kazakhstan, the Agency’s internal procurement process for low enriched uranium continues and we are evaluating proposals. Our intention is that a contract, or contracts, for the supply of the LEU will be signed in 2018 and that the LEU will be delivered to the IAEA LEU Storage Facility in 2019.

Negotiations on transport contracts with China, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation are well advanced.

Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr Chairman,

I will now turn to verification and monitoring in Iran.

The United States – one of the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – announced its withdrawal from the agreement last month. The Agency continues to verify and monitor Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, as requested by the UN Security Council and authorised by the Board of Governors.

As stated in my latest report to the Board, the Agency has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which we needed to visit. Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access would facilitate implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhance confidence.

On May 25th, I was invited by the Joint Commission of the JCPOA to attend part of the meeting that took place in Vienna. I briefed participants on the IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities in Iran.

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.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols

Mr Chairman,

You have before you for approval a draft safeguards agreement, with an additional protocol, for the United Kingdom. These will replace existing agreements between the United Kingdom, the European Atomic Energy Community and the Agency as a result of the anticipated withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.

Since the last Board, Tonga has amended its small quantities 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.

Other Safeguards Issues

The Safeguards Implementation Report for 2017 details our work implementing safeguards in 181 States last year. The amount of nuclear material under IAEA safeguards continued to increase.

It became necessary to delay finalisation of my report on Implementation of State-level Safeguards Approaches for States under Integrated Safeguards, which I had planned to present at this Board, because of changes in the leadership of the Department of Safeguards. I intend to circulate the report well in advance of the September Board.

The MOSAIC project to modernise the safeguards IT system has now been completed, on schedule and within budget. Performance, security and reliability have been enhanced. I am grateful to Member States whose generous contributions made this possible.

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

Mr Chairman,

The Agency is closely following developments related to the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. We continue to enhance our readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned. The DPRK Team in the Safeguards Department and my Executive Group, both of which were formed last year, have intensified their efforts to ensure that the Agency will be ready to promptly undertake any activities that we may be requested to conduct, subject to authorization by the Board of Governors. I will keep the Board informed of developments.

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.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic

Mr Chairman,

Authorities in Israel acknowledged publicly that it destroyed a building at the Dair Alzour site in Syria in 2007. The Board will recall that I reported in 2011 that it was very likely that the building was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared to the Agency by Syria. In my statement to the June 2011 Board, I expressed regret that the Agency had not been given the opportunity to perform its verification role. I stated that, rather than force being used, the case should have been reported to the IAEA.

Since my last report to the Board, no new information has come to our attention that would affect my 2011 assessment. I renew my call to Syria to cooperate fully with us in connection with all unresolved issues.

Management Issues

Mr Chairman,

Following intensive consultations with Member States on the Agency’s draft Budget Update for 2019, the Chair of the Board has proposed a 1.2% overall increase for 2019 over 2018. This represents less than zero real growth. Savings and efficiencies will be applied across all budget areas, in addition to those already identified in the Programme and Budget 2018-2019. I strongly hope that there will be consensus on this proposal at the June Board, and that the Board will recommend the Budget Update for 2019 to the General Conference. As requested by Member States, we will strengthen our efforts to identify and implement further savings and efficiencies, including in travel, as we move forward with the draft Programme and Budget for 2020-2021.

I am pleased that the Programme and Budget Committee was able to recommend to the Board the transmittal of the Agency’s financial statements to the General Conference. We have again received an unqualified opinion on our financial statements from the External Auditor.

The Agency’s first Chief of Ethics, Mr Alessandro Maggi, has taken up his position, with a mandate to promote the highest standards of integrity in the Agency and foster a culture of ethics, transparency and accountability. He reports directly to me but will have the operational independence necessary to fulfil his responsibilities.  These will include providing confidential advice to staff and recommendations to management on specific cases. 

I remain committed to my goal of achieving gender parity among the most senior Agency officials by 2021.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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