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International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems Sustaining Improvements Globally

Vienna Austria

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to welcome you all to this IAEA International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems

The sub-title of the conference is Sustaining Improvements Globally. This implies that improvements have been made, both in establishing effective regulatory systems throughout the world, and in improving nuclear safety generally.

And that is indeed the case.

The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 cast a shadow over the work of everyone involved in the sector – plant operators, regulators, governments and the IAEA.

However, in the five years since then, all countries with nuclear power programmes have taken vigorous steps to reassess all aspects of safety and to make improvements, where necessary.

I have seen this for myself when visiting facilities throughout the world. Additional measures have been put in place to protect against extreme natural events such as major earthquakes and tsunamis.

Some countries have reformed their regulatory systems.

The IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety made a valuable contribution to improving safety globally. Many activities were undertaken by the Agency, Member States and other organizations. Continuing Agency activities under the Action Plan are now being addressed through our regular work.

I encourage all countries with nuclear power programmes, or which are considering introducing nuclear power, to become parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

The Convention is a very important mechanism which has contributed a lot to strengthening nuclear safety in the countries which are party to it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This conference provides a valuable opportunity for you to discuss major regulatory, policy and technical issues in nuclear safety and security.

While nuclear safety and security are primarily the responsibility of individual countries, the Agency has a vital role to play in ensuring international cooperation.

The IAEA provides the international forum through which national regulatory bodies share information and experience.

Strong and independent regulators, operating under a robust legal framework, are vital for ensuring a high level of nuclear safety and nuclear security.

As I have said many times, there can be no grounds for complacency about nuclear safety in any country. Some of the factors that contributed to the Fukushima Daiichi accident were not unique to Japan.

Continuous questioning and openness to learning from experience are essential for everyone involved in the nuclear sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 2016, we will mark a number of important anniversaries.

The IAEA will begin celebrating its 60th birthday. And one of the most important IAEA peer review services – the Integrated Regulatory Review Service, or IRRS – will have its 10th anniversary. 

This important service, in which leading practitioners share their experience and offer expert advice to the country that invited them, has resulted in regulatory improvements that have benefited countries throughout the world.

 The IAEA’s expert peer review services are among the most valuable services which we offer. I encourage all countries to make use of our full range of peer reviews.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last Friday was an important day for nuclear security. Uruguay and Nicaragua deposited their instruments of ratification of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

This brought to 102 the number of countries which have adhered to the Amendment. It means that the Amendment will finally enter into force on 8 May, nearly 11 years after it was first adopted.

The Amendment makes it legally binding for countries to protect nuclear facilities, as well as nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport. It will reduce the risk of a terrorist attack involving nuclear material, which could have catastrophic consequences.

I urge all countries to adhere to this important legal instrument. Universal implementation of the amended Convention will ensure that nuclear and other radioactive material throughout the world is properly protected against malicious acts by terrorists.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Improving nuclear safety is an issue that will never cease to require our attention. Regulators play an essential role.

In the next few days, you will consider the achievements since the last conference in this series in Ottawa in 2013, and reflect on how best to maintain the momentum in improving nuclear safety.

I wish you every success with your meeting and I look forward to learning about the outcome.

Thank you.

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Last update: 26 July 2017