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Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria
Yukiya Amano

Vienna, Austria | IAEA Board of Governors

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to begin by updating the Board on the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The situation at the site remained very serious for many months. The Agency's assessment now is that the reactors are essentially stable and the expectation is that the "cold shutdown" of all the reactors will be achieved as planned. The plant operator and the Japanese authorities have been working hard to regain full control of the situation and have made steady progress in the past six months. I saw for myself just how powerful and destructive nature can be when I visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant in July. But I was also deeply impressed by the courage and dedication of the engineers and workers at the site. The IAEA will continue to provide every possible assistance to Japan as it restores control over the Fukushima Daiichi plant and tackles the challenging work of decontamination and remediation. Continuing full transparency on Japan's part will also be important.

You have for approval a number of documents related to nuclear safety. These include Draft Safety Requirements: Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources: International Basic Safety Standards. This publication reflects feedback and experience accumulated by 2010 by Member States, the Secretariat and organizations which cooperated with the Secretariat in the revision process. Lessons learned from Fukushima Daiichi will be reflected in future revisions.

I have also circulated a draft Nuclear Safety Action Plan, which I was asked to prepare and present to both the Board and the General Conference by the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in June.

The draft Action Plan, which builds on the Ministerial Declaration and the conclusions and recommendations of the three working sessions at the Conference, is the result of an intensive process of consultations with Member States. Views among Member States on the best ways to improve nuclear safety worldwide varied in a number of areas. I believe the draft Action Plan reflects, in a reasonable manner, the wide range of views expressed during the consultations. Compared to the arrangements that were in place before the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the draft Action Plan represents a significant step forward in strengthening nuclear safety. We must not lose our sense of urgency. I hope the draft Action Plan will be approved by the Board and endorsed by the General Conference next week.

In the aftermath of Fukushima Daiichi, the most important thing is to ensure transparency, build confidence, and meet the high expectations of the public. But it is actions, not words, that count. With this Plan, we will move from the planning phase to the implementation phase. Firm and sustained commitment from all Member States is needed for the full implementation of the Action Plan. Further lessons will be learned and the Plan will be updated accordingly. It will take rapid and visible improvements in nuclear safety - not just good intentions - to restore public confidence in nuclear power. The Agency will play its central part with vigour.

Nuclear Security Report 2011

Mr. Chairman,

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. In the wake of those attacks, the Agency significantly expanded its nuclear security programme to help Member States protect nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities against malicious acts. Nuclear security remains an extremely important issue for all States.

The exchange of information among States is one of the most important tools in guarding against nuclear terrorism. As the Nuclear Security Report 2011 shows, the number of States participating in our Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) programme continues to grow. It now stands at 113. In the year to June 2011, 172 incidents were reported to the ITDB. Fourteen involved activities such as unauthorized possession and/or attempts to sell or smuggle nuclear material or radioactive sources. Another 32 incidents involved the theft or loss of nuclear or other radioactive material. Incidents of this nature demonstrate that illicit trafficking remains a real concern.

I remind you once again that progress towards entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material remains slow, six years after its adoption. Adherence to the Amendment can significantly reduce the risk of nuclear material, facilities and transports falling into the wrong hands. Global nuclear security needs a strong CPPNM and I encourage the parties to the Convention to work towards accelerating the entry into force of the Amendment. During the General Conference next week, we are holding a Treaty Event aimed at promoting universal adherence to, and support for, multilateral treaties for which the IAEA is depositary, including the Amendment to the CPPNM.

Nuclear Energy

Mr. Chairman,

Turning now to nuclear energy, the Agency has updated its projections concerning the outlook for nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. We now expect the number of operating nuclear reactors in the world to increase by about 90 by 2030, in our low projection, or by around 350, in our high projection, compared to the current total of 432 reactors. This represents continuous and significant growth in the use of nuclear power, but at a slower growth rate than in our previous projections. Most of the growth is still expected to occur in countries that already have operating nuclear power plants, especially in Asia. China and India will remain the main centres of expansion and their nuclear power capacities by 2030 are expected to be as projected before the accident, after a temporary period of slower growth. The projected slowdown in global growth reflects an accelerated phase-out of nuclear power in Germany, some immediate shutdowns and a government review of the planned expansion in Japan, and temporary delays in expansion in several other countries.

In countries considering introducing nuclear power, interest remains strong, despite Fukushima Daiichi. Most of these countries are proceeding with plans to add nuclear power to their energy mix, although a few countries have cancelled or revised their plans, while others have taken a 'wait and see' approach.

The factors that contributed to increasing interest in nuclear power before the Fukushima Daiichi accident have not changed: increasing global demand for energy, as well as concerns about climate change, dwindling reserves of oil and gas and uncertainty of supply of fossil fuels. As countries proceed with their programmes, they continue to seek the Agency's support in the form of services such as Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) Missions and INPRO Nuclear Energy System Assessments (NESAs).

Assurance of Supply

We have been continuing work on the establishment of an IAEA Low Enriched Uranium bank. In May, we invited expressions of interest from Member States willing to host the LEU bank and provide in-kind support. In July, Kazakhstan submitted a proposal to host the LEU bank and offered two sites for consideration. An IAEA technical mission went to Kazakhstan last month to review its offer and to make a technical assessment of the sites. We are discussing relevant technical matters with the Government of Kazakhstan with a view to finalizing a decision on a site. I will continue to keep the Board informed of progress.

Nuclear Applications

Mr. Chairman,

My report on Strengthening the Agency's Activities related to Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications provides an update on our work in a broad range of areas, from the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) to the use of isotope hydrology for water resources management. I note that the first contributions have been made under the Peaceful Uses Initiative towards Agency activities supporting infrastructure development for nuclear power and non-power applications.

Capacity-building in Member States remains a high priority for the Agency, approached in a number of ways including through training courses and workshops. The IAEA Human Health Campus - our online resource for professionals in radiation medicine - has been made more interactive and a mobile phone version will be released in November. This is in recognition of the fact that access to broadband internet is limited in many developing countries.

I remind you that the Scientific Forum during next week's General Conference will be devoted to nuclear techniques related to water. It will feature government ministers from different regions, leading international experts and other officials who will speak about key water issues facing the world today. I hope you will join us for what I am confident will be a stimulating event. I am also pleased that so many of you have accepted my invitation to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Environment Laboratories in Monaco at the end of this month.

For more than 20 years, the Agency has supported the fight against the deadly cattle disease rinderpest. Next week we will celebrate its eradication. Rinderpest is, in fact, the first animal disease ever to be eliminated. This is a momentous achievement which is of enormous economic benefit to many developing countries. The IAEA played an important part in rinderpest eradication by making available affordable diagnostic techniques and training veterinary staff. Our partnership with the FAO and other organisations was critical to the success of this project. The same technologies used to eliminate rinderpest are now being successfully applied to diagnose and control other transboundary animal diseases.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
Turning now to nuclear verification, since my last report to the Board, Costa Rica and Bahrain have brought into force additional protocols, bringing the number of States with additional protocols in force to 110. El Salvador, Zimbabwe and Moldova amended their small quantities protocols.

I strongly hope that remaining States will conclude additional protocols as soon as possible. I also ask the 15 States parties to the NPT without safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay, and call on States with small quantities protocols that have not yet done so to amend or rescind those protocols.

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

Mr. Chairman,

My report on the Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea provides a historical overview and update on recent developments of direct relevance to the Agency, as requested by a number of countries. As you know, the Agency has not been able to implement any safeguards measures in the DPRK since April 2009, so our knowledge of the current status of the country's nuclear programme is limited. That nuclear programme is a matter of serious concern and reports about the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility and a light water reactor in the DPRK are deeply troubling.

I again call upon the DPRK to fully comply with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, to come into full compliance with the NPT and to cooperate promptly and fully with the Agency. I wish to stress that the Agency has an essential role to play in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran
As my report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran shows, the Agency continues to conduct verification activities under Iran's Safeguards Agreement.

I had meetings in June and July with H.E. Dr Fereydoun Abbasi, Vice President of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and with H.E. Dr Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Deputy Director General for Safeguards travelled to Iran in August and visited a number of facilities, as described in my report. Iran demonstrated greater transparency than on previous occasions. Greater transparency and Iran's full proactive engagement are also needed concerning its other nuclear activities. Since the last Board meeting, Iran installed centrifuges in Fordow, with the stated objective of producing UF6 enriched up to 20% U235, and informed the Agency that tests for the conversion of UF6 enriched up to 20% U235 into U3O8 would start on 6 September 2011, in further contravention of Security Council and Board of Governors resolutions.

The Agency is increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile, about which the Agency continues to receive new information. In the near future, I hope to set out in greater detail the basis for the Agency's concerns so that all Member States are fully informed.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the Agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. I urge Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations in order to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
In my last report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic, I informed you of the Agency's conclusion that it is very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency. That conclusion stands.

On 9 June 2011, the Board adopted a resolution finding Syria to be in non-compliance with its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement and reporting the matter to the United Nations Security Council. Staff of the Department of Safeguards provided a technical briefing on the subject to the Security Council at its request.

Following my last report, in a letter to the Agency dated 26 May 2011, Syria indicated its readiness to fully cooperate with the Agency to resolve issues related to the Dair Alzour site. After a number of meetings with the Agency, Syria, in a letter dated 24 August 2011, stated its readiness to have a meeting with Agency Safeguards staff in Damascus in October. Syria's letter stated that the purpose of the meeting would be "to agree on an action plan to resolve the outstanding issues in regards to [the] Dair Alzour site." The Agency subsequently proposed that a meeting take place on 10 to 11 October 2011 with the aim of advancing the Agency's verification mission in Syria.

I will continue to keep the Board informed of developments.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East
In September 2000, the General Conference tasked the Director General to make arrangements to convene a forum in which participants from the Middle East and other interested parties could learn from the experience of nuclear-weapon-free zones already established in other regions. I am pleased to inform you that, following my consultations with Member States over the past few months, I believe conditions have become more favourable for the holding of such a forum. I have therefore invited all Member States to a forum, here in Vienna, on 21-22 November. I am also pleased to announce that the Permanent Representative of Norway, Ambassador Jan Petersen, has accepted my invitation to serve as Chairperson for this important gathering. We will continue our consultations in the coming weeks to help ensure that the forum is a success.

Verification related to Nuclear Disarmament

Mr. Chairman,

The Board will recall that the Agency was asked last year by the Russian Federation and the United States to independently verify implementation of their agreement on the disposition of plutonium no longer required for defence purposes. Agency experts have been working with both countries on a draft agreement and good progress has been made. It will represent a unique example of transparency in this field. We are preparing an information paper on this subject which I will present to the Board in the coming weeks.

ECAS Project
The ECAS project to improve the analytical capability and security of the Agency's safeguards laboratories is progressing well. Last week, I had the pleasure of welcoming many of you to Seibersdorf for the inauguration of the Clean Laboratory Extension, which has been operational for several months, and the groundbreaking for the Nuclear Material Laboratory. I am extremely grateful for the strong support and good will of the Austrian authorities which made the upgrade of the laboratories possible.

I am very pleased that the Clean Laboratory Extension was completed on time and slightly under budget and I hope we will have similar success with the Nuclear Material Laboratory. The design of the Nuclear Material Laboratory has been completed and we hope to start construction very soon. However, despite generous extra budgetary contributions by several Member States, we still need to raise about a third of the total cost of the ECAS Project - around 22 million euros. This will enable us to build a new laboratory with minimum core analytical capabilities and to make the whole Seibersdorf site secure. I call on Member States in a position to do so to provide the additional resources to enable the successful completion of this project.

Women in the Secretariat

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to draw your attention to my report on Women in the Secretariat. It shows that lack of gender balance remains a problem in the Agency, as it does throughout the UN Common System. Although the Agency is still among the UN organizations with the lowest representation of women Professional staff - close to 24% at present - the number of women in the Professional and higher categories has grown by 1.5% since June 2009 and by 2.3% since June 2007, which is an encouraging trend. We continue to work with Member States to seek new ways to encourage well qualified female candidates to apply for Professional posts.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Last update: 25 Nov 2019

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