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IAEA Director General's Speech at International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Actions

Vienna, Austria
International Conference on Nuclear Security
Yukiya Amano Opening Statement

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivers his opening statement on the first day of the  International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Actions. IAEA Vienna, Austria. 5 December 2016. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(as prepared for delivery)

Good morning, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to welcome you to Vienna and to this IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security.

Let me begin by thanking His Excellency, Mr Yun Byung-se, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, for agreeing to act as President of the Conference.

I am also grateful to the co-Chairs, the distinguished Ambassadors of the Republic of Korea and of Nigeria, for their hard work in preparing this event.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2016 has been an important year for the IAEA. We began celebrating our 60th anniversary in September.

We are proud of our achievements in implementing our Atoms for Peace and Development mandate in the past six decades. The Agency has made peaceful nuclear science and technology available to improve human well-being and prosperity, and helped to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear security has been an important area of our work for decades.

Nuclear security is the responsibility of individual countries, but the IAEA provides practical assistance, supplying expert advice, equipment and training. We also provide the global platform through which countries cooperate to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way.

This is the second time that a conference on this very important subject has been held at ministerial level, open to all 168 IAEA Member States. I am grateful for the participation of so many Ministers, senior policy-makers and technical experts.

This demonstrates that your governments are serious about enhancing global efforts to protect material and facilities from malicious acts and to put appropriate detection and response capabilities in place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As far as the IAEA is concerned, nuclear safety and security are priority areas in our budget, alongside technical cooperation.

At the request of Member States, the Agency has continued to expand the services which we offer in nuclear security. 

In the last six years, we have trained more than 10,000 police, border guards and other officials in detecting and preventing the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive materials. We have given countries over 3,000 instruments for detecting such material.

This year, we provided radiation detection equipment and other assistance to Brazil during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Computer security is an important and growing aspect of nuclear security as reliance on digital systems grows.

In June last year, we hosted an International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World. It brought together experts from government, industry and law enforcement agencies to discuss how best to strengthen nuclear facilities against both random and targeted cyber-attacks.

The IAEA’s work to strengthen computer security includes activities to build awareness and resilience. We also develop practical guidance.

Countries all over the world have stepped up their investments in nuclear security, with support from the IAEA, and have been working to build their human resources.

In my travel as Director General, I have seen many positive developments in the nuclear security area.

I visited a very impressive centre in Pakistan, where training is offered in every aspect of nuclear security.

I saw the groundwork being laid for China’s Centre of Excellence on Nuclear Security, a large facility near Beijing, which opened this year. I visited Disaster City in Texas, where every conceivable type of crisis and disaster – including nuclear – can be simulated on a grand scale.

Last month, I visited Cuba, where I saw a major new port facility at which cargo being unloaded from ships passes through giant radiation detection portals. The IAEA assisted Cuba with this project.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The sub-title of this conference is Commitments and Actions. At our first ministerial conference in 2013, I identified three key areas in which I called for urgent action to improve global nuclear security. I am pleased to report that good progress has been made in all three.

The first of my three items was the need for the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material to enter into force. This finally happened on May 8th this year, nearly 11 years after the Amendment was adopted.

The original Convention covers the physical protection of nuclear material in international transport. The Amendment expands its coverage to include the protection of nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport, and the protection of nuclear facilities against acts of sabotage.

Under the Amendment, countries are required to establish appropriate physical protection regimes. They also take on new obligations to exchange information on sabotage and credible threats of sabotage. 

Last week, we held a meeting for States Parties to the CPPNM and the Amendment. It focused on ways in which the Agency can help States to meet those new obligations, and on the need to promote universal adherence to the Amendment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My second point in 2013 was an invitation to all countries to invite peer review of their nuclear security arrangements by international experts. The level of interest in the past three years has been encouraging.

The IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) marks its 20th anniversary this year. IPPAS missions provide expert advice on the physical protection of nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities, and on implementing international nuclear security commitments.

We have now carried out 75 IPPAS missions in 47 countries. Six missions were conducted this year and ten more are in the pipeline.

There is increasing recognition of the value of such services and I encourage all States to make use of them. I would welcome additional support to enable more countries to make use of IPPAS missions.

Finally, I urged all countries in 2013 to use IAEA nuclear security guidance. In the past three years, we have published five new guidance documents on aspects of nuclear security. Nearly 30 more are being prepared.

The Nuclear Security Guidance Committee, which I established in 2012, has proven to be a valuable mechanism for promoting greater involvement by all Member States in ensuring that our guidance truly meets their needs.

I encourage all Member States to take part in the Committee’s work.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking to the future, the IAEA will continue to work with all Member States, and other partners, to strengthen global nuclear security.

Ensuring effective nuclear security is important for all countries, including those which possess little or no nuclear or other radioactive material.

Terrorists and criminals will try to exploit any vulnerability in the global nuclear security system. Any country, in any part of the world, could find itself used as a transit point. And any country could become the target of an attack. That is why effective international cooperation is vital.

Much progress has been made in improving nuclear security throughout the world. But we can never relax our guard. Continued vigilance is essential as the threat evolves.  

The IAEA will continue to play its part in helping to ensure that all countries are able to make the best use of available technology and to ensure state-of-the-art nuclear security.

More attention will be paid to repatriation and disposal of spent radioactive sources at the end of their operational life.

Member States have made clear that they want increased assistance in strengthening computer security in the nuclear industry and related sectors.

We will continue to develop guidance on enhancing computer security and to provide focused training on cyber threats, helping to boost countries’ capacity to respond to attacks.

A priority for me in the coming years will be to encourage all countries to adhere to the CPPNM and its Amendment. The IAEA will continue to assist all States in meeting their new obligations under the Amendment.

The next IAEA Nuclear Security Plan will be developed in close consultation with all Member States. The Ministerial Declaration, which you are expected to adopt today, and the findings and conclusions of the President’s report, will help to define that Plan.

The IAEA will work with all of you to ensure that the commitments made at this Conference are translated into practical actions that will make the world safer for everyone.

I am now honoured to give the floor to the President of the 2016 IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, His Excellency, Mr Yun Byung-se, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. I invite him to open the Conference officially.

Thank you.

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