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IAEA Director General's Statement to the 72nd Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York USA

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivered his statement at the 72nd Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA, 10 November 2017.

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr President,

The IAEA’s 60th anniversary year is drawing to a close. In the past six decades, the Agency has contributed to international peace and security and made a real difference to the lives of millions of people.

Thanks to the support of Member States, and the dedication of our excellent staff, we can take pride in important achievements in all areas of our work in that time, including in the last 12 months.

The IAEA Annual Report 2016 has been distributed to you all.

Mr President,

Science and technology are essential for development. Transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries is core IAEA business and one of the most important areas of our work.

The IAEA technical cooperation programme is central to delivery of our Atoms for Peace and Development mandate. It has improved the health and prosperity of millions of people and delivered huge benefits to entire communities.

The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health, as well as in other areas. We focus on transferring knowledge and technical expertise.

The Agency works closely with key UN partners, including the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, for the benefit of Member States.

The first International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme this year attracted high-level participation and enhanced awareness of our unique role in nuclear technology transfer.

Mr President,

The modernisation of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories near Vienna continues to make excellent progress. This is one of the most important projects ever undertaken by the Agency, with investment likely to total around 60 million euros. I am grateful to the 31 countries, and a number of individuals, whose generous financial and in-kind contributions have made this possible.

The eight laboratories provide assistance to more than 150 countries in areas such as food and agriculture, health and the environment. The new Insect Pest Control Laboratory was inaugurated in September. It will help countries to use nuclear techniques to better control pests such as mosquitoes, tsetse flies and fruit flies.

When completed in a few years’ time, the expanded laboratory complex will greatly increase our capabilities as a technology holder, to the benefit of all 168 IAEA Member States. 

Mr President,

Nuclear power is likely to make a growing contribution to sustainable development in the coming decades. The Agency supports countries that wish to introduce nuclear power, or to expand existing programmes.

Today, 70% of the world’s electricity comes from fossil fuels. Eleven percent comes from nuclear power, which is one of the lowest-carbon technologies for generating electricity. But when it comes to low-carbon electricity, nuclear generates almost one third of the global total.

By 2050, if climate change goals set under the Paris Agreement are to be met, around 80% of electricity will need to be low-carbon. Nuclear power plants produce virtually no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants during their operation. Emissions over their entire life cycle are very low. So increased use of nuclear power, as well as of renewables, will help countries to achieve their climate change goals.

An IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century took place in Abu Dhabi 10 days ago.

The Concluding Statement by the President of the Conference said: “For many countries, nuclear power is a proven, clean, safe and economical technology that will play an increasingly important role in achieving energy security, reducing the impact of volatile fossil fuel prices and mitigating the effects of climate change and air pollution.”

In August, the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank Storage Facility was inaugurated in Kazakhstan. The LEU Bank will provide a last-resort mechanism to give countries confidence that they will be able to meet their future needs for nuclear fuel.

Mr President,

Turning now to nuclear verification, the number of States with IAEA safeguards agreements in force stands at 182. I encourage all countries to implement the additional protocol, a powerful verification tool that gives the Agency greater access to information and locations. One hundred and thirty countries have additional protocols in force.

The Agency continues to verify and monitor the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was agreed in 2015.

The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented. Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime. Our inspectors have expanded access to sites, and have more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which is smaller than it was before the JCPOA came into effect.

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,

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

The nuclear test by the DPRK in September, its sixth and largest to date, is extremely regrettable. I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the IAEA.

As you may recall, IAEA inspectors were required to leave the DPRK in 2009, but the Agency continues to monitor the country’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open-source information. The Agency is working to maintain its readiness to return to the DPRK when political developments make this possible.

Mr President,

Safety and security are extremely important in all uses of nuclear technology, whether for power or non-power purposes. Both are national responsibilities, but the IAEA plays a vital role in enabling countries to share experiences and best practices.

Lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011 have now been incorporated into all IAEA nuclear safety requirements, ensuring that they become part of global safety practice. Safety must always come first and safety culture must continue to be strengthened.

I encourage all Member States to ensure broad application of IAEA safety standards.

With its worldwide geographical reach and unrivalled technical expertise, the IAEA has served as the global platform for cooperation in nuclear security for decades. Member states have consistently recognized our central role in strengthening the nuclear security framework.

The IAEA Board of Governors adopted the Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2021 by consensus in September. At the request of Member States, we continue to expand the assistance we provide to enable countries to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way.

Mr President,

Sound management of limited resources is essential if the Agency is to be able to meet the growing needs of Member States. We will continue to strike a balance between those real needs and the reality that many Member States face continued financial constraints.

I take the issue of gender parity on the Agency’s staff very seriously. We have significantly increased the proportion of women in the Professional and higher categories. It now stands at 29.4%, the highest level ever. But we can and must do better. 

In June, I became an International Gender Champion. This is a leadership network which brings together key decision-makers to break down gender barriers. I made a commitment to increase the proportion of women at very senior level in the Agency.

Mr President,

Since becoming Director General nearly eight years ago, I have focused on ensuring that the IAEA remains an international organisation of excellence that delivers concrete results promptly.

The IAEA’s Member States have appointed me to a new four-year term, starting on December 1. Delivering concrete results in everything to do with Atoms for Peace and Development will remain my focus in the coming years.

Thank you.

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