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Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

Our agenda for this meeting is focused on the report of the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee and safety and verification issues.

Technical Cooperation

You have before you the Agency´s Technical Cooperation Programme for 2009-2011. This unique three-year cycle will align the Technical Cooperation Fund and Regular Budget cycles. It is demand-driven and responds to the development priorities identified by Member States, which have been closely involved in its formulation. I believe this is a strong programme. The responsibility for its implementation lies with Member States and the Agency and I look forward to a cohesive, focused and productive cycle.

The world economic crisis is a major concern, but we must not allow it to obscure the other pressing crises that continue to face our developing Member States, including access to food, health care and safe drinking water. Human health remains the single over-riding priority in all regions in the new TC programme, accounting for 18% of the budget for all new projects. Health projects in Africa, for example, will concentrate on the management of cancer, the development of capabilities for nuclear medicine investigations and the control of communicable human diseases.

In the area of cancer control, 44 new countries have requested ImPACT needs assessments, reflecting the success of PACT Model Demonstration Sites and national and regional TC projects. The expected launch of the WHO/IAEA Joint Programme on Cancer Control will further strengthen the Agency´s contribution to the fight against cancer. In April, the Agency launched a Distance Learning Course in Radiation Oncology for Cancer Treatment, the first of its kind.

Assistance in food and agriculture has increased throughout the TC programme. Let me take one new project as an example. Many regions in Africa are adversely affected by land degradation, climatic variations and frequent droughts. Introducing small-scale irrigation technologies is the key factor for increasing crop production. A new regional project on Enhancing the Productivity of High Value Crops and Income Generation with Small-Scale Irrigation Technologies will be implemented in the new cycle in a number of countries, likely to include Burkina Faso, Egypt and Ethiopia, along with partners such as the World Bank, NEPAD and FAO. We hope that this will reduce vulnerability to food shortages and boost the incomes of poor farmers in semi-arid areas.

Recent success stories include Mexico´s use of the sterile insect technique, with Agency assistance, to rid the islands of Mujeres and Contoy of the cactus moth, a pest which has hampered economic development. Likewise, Agency support led to the commercial development of two new rice varieties, one of which is suitable for patients with diabetes and the other for people suffering from obesity. Both are now on the market.

More and more Member States are considering launching nuclear power programmes and asking the Agency for assistance. Our objective is to assist States which want to make use of nuclear power as part of their energy mix during the entire process, including through expert advice, equipment and training. This is intended to ensure that they have a solid infrastructure and make the best use of available technology, with high levels of safety, security and non-proliferation. We anticipate a four-fold increase in the number of TC projects in 2009-2011 focused on the introduction of nuclear power. Projects on uranium exploration and production are also increasing.

A Cooperative Agreement between the IAEA and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) was signed during the 50th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in Geneva. The Agreement will enhance the working relationship between the two organizations.

Nuclear Safety and Security

The Agency promotes the continuing evolution and upgrading of the global nuclear safety and security regime. You have before you the draft Safety Requirements for Conducting Safety Assessments for Facilities and Activities. If approved, this will be the second safety requirements document that adopts a new format that can be used more directly by Member States for drafting their regulations, as recommended by the Commission on Safety Standards.

In October, the IAEA and Spain´s "Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear" organized an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Lessons Learned Workshop in Seville. This followed an IRRS mission in Spain which was the first to include a security component. The workshop identified key opportunities for sharing knowledge and improving the IRRS programme. I compliment the Spanish authorities for availing themselves of this comprehensive peer review process, and for Spain´s excellent cooperation. I trust that many other Member States will follow suit in the years to come so the safety benefits of these missions can be spread.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
You have before you a draft Additional Protocol for the Republic of Zambia. Additional Protocols are in force in 88 States, slightly more than half of the 163 States which have safeguards agreements in force. I reiterate my call on all States that have not yet done so to bring into force their comprehensive safeguards agreements and additional protocols without delay.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea
Following my reports to the Board in October on the Application of Safeguards in the DPRK, the Agency reinstalled its containment and surveillance equipment at the Radiochemical Laboratory and at the 5 MW(e) Experimental Nuclear Power Plant. The monitoring and verification of the core fuel transfer from the reactor are continuing. The Agency has been monitoring disabling activities and the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities. I trust that parties to the Six-Party Talks will brief you on the results of their deliberations since the Agency is not part of this process.

As I mentioned during the General Conference, I still hope that the conditions will be created for the DPRK to return to the NPT soon and for the Agency to resume the implementation of comprehensive safeguards.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran
You have before you my report on the Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. However, Iran has not implemented the Additional Protocol, which is essential - as in all countries - for the Agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities.

There remain a number of outstanding issues, relevant to the alleged studies and associated questions identified in my last report to the Board, which give rise to concerns and need to be clarified in order to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran´s nuclear programme. Regrettably, the Agency has not been able to make substantive progress on these issues. Iran needs to clarify as a matter of transparency the extent to which information contained in the relevant documentation is factually correct and where, in its view, such information may have been modified or relates to non nuclear purposes. Iran should also provide the Agency with substantive information to support its statements and provide access to relevant documentation and individuals. Unless Iran provides such transparency, and implements the Additional Protocol, the Agency will not be able to make progress in its efforts to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. I also still regret the fact that the Agency has not been able to share with Iran documentation provided by Member States. I call upon the Member States concerned to authorize the Agency to do so.

As I have stated before, the Agency does not in any way seek to intrude into Iran´s conventional or missile-related military activities. Our focus is on nuclear material and activities. We have, however, a responsibility under comprehensive safeguards agreements to clarify the veracity of all available information to be able to confirm that all nuclear material is being used exclusively for peaceful purposes. I remain confident that arrangements can be developed which enable the Agency to do its work while ensuring that Iran´s legitimate right to protect the confidentiality of sensitive information and activities is respected.

I continue, therefore, to urge Iran to implement all measures required to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. Likewise, I still hope that conditions will be created soon for direct negotiations between all concerned parties, which are indispensable for establishing the necessary confidence building measures and developing the trust that is key to a solution to the Iran issue and stability in the Middle East.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Syrian Arab Republic
In June this year, I informed the Board that the Agency had been provided with information alleging that an installation destroyed by Israel in Syria in September 2007 was a nuclear reactor. Syria has stated that the Dair Alzour site was a military site and was not involved in any nuclear activities.

The Agency has, in accordance with its responsibility under comprehensive safeguards agreements, conducted a thorough analysis of all information available to it. As I mentioned in my report, the Agency was severely hampered in its assessment by the unilateral use of force and by the late provision of information about the destroyed building. The destruction of the building and the subsequent removal of the debris made the Agency´s verification work quite difficult and complex, rendering the results so far inconclusive.

For its assessment of the site immediately after the bombing, the Agency was unable to obtain commercial satellite imagery. It is regrettable, and indeed baffling, that imagery for this critical period, which would have been most valuable in helping to clarify the nature of the building that was destroyed, was not available. The Agency has recently been able to secure agreement to show Syria imagery from Member State satellites of the site shortly after the bombing, and will do so at the earliest opportunity.

Analysis of environmental samples from the Dair Alzour site revealed a significant number of natural uranium particles, which had been produced as a result of chemical processing. Syria stated that the only explanation for these particles was that they were contained in the missiles used to destroy the building. The Agency is assessing Syria´s claim. We have asked Syria to permit the Agency to visit the locations of debris and equipment removed from the site in order to take samples that would help us to assess the origin of the uranium and also to ascertain the possible existence of any nuclear grade graphite that is normally associated with the type of alleged reactor. The Agency has also asked Israel to provide detailed information concerning Syria´s claims regarding the origin of the uranium particles.

As stated in the report, while it cannot be excluded that the building in question was intended for non-nuclear use, the features of the building, along with the availability of adequate pumping capacity of cooling water, are similar to what may be found in connection with a reactor site. In light of this, it is important that Syria provide the Agency with documentation in support of its statements concerning the nature and function of the destroyed building.

Syria should also agree, as a transparency measure, to let the Agency visit other locations. As I mentioned in the case of Iran, I am confident that modalities can be developed which will protect the confidentiality of military information while enabling the Agency to continue with its assessment.

For the Agency to complete its assessment, maximum transparency by Syria and the full sharing with the Agency of all relevant information which other States may have are essential.

General Verification Issues
Finally, I would like to clarify a number of important general verification issues that have been raised recently in Board discussions and Secretariat briefings.

First, it is the Agency´s obligation to assess the veracity of any information made available to it and to assure itself at all times, in accordance with its obligations under comprehensive safeguards agreements, that there are no undeclared nuclear material or activities in a given country. This clearly requires full cooperation by the State concerned.

Second, in certain situations, the Agency has to rely on transparency measures by the State concerned that go beyond the Agency´s rights under comprehensive safeguards agreements and the additional protocol in order to be in a position to complete our assessments, since our legal authority to address certain issues is limited. It is in the interests of the State concerned to engage in such cooperation in order to assist the Agency in clarifying any allegations made against it. As I have said many times, our effectiveness depends on the legal authority and tools we have and the cooperation we receive. The more legal authority, tools and cooperation we have, the more effective we can be.

Third, several Member States have raised questions concerning the Agency´s reliance on laboratories in Member States in assessing environmental samples. As the Deputy Director General for Safeguards noted during the informal briefing last week, we take all necessary measures to ensure the anonymity of samples and we rely on more than one lab for results. The fact remains, however, that in some cases we are not able to independently validate the results of sample analysis on our own because of the lack of certain analytical capabilities at our Safeguards Analytical Laboratory (SAL).

You have received a report on the current status of plans to refurbish SAL and transform it into an advanced, state of the art facility. This is key to the Agency´s capability, and independence, with regard to environmental sample and nuclear material sample analysis. We estimate the overall cost at around €35 million. With the exception of Japan, which pledged a substantial contribution, no additional pledges of support have been received. If sufficient funds are not forthcoming, it will be necessary to request supplementary budget appropriations. The sooner SAL is operating with the high capabilities required, the greater will be the confidence of all Member States in our ability to independently validate the results of samples analysed by Member State laboratories. This is a matter which I have highlighted in the past and which has been clearly spelled out in the Report of the Commission of Eminent Persons. So the ball really is in your court.

Fourth, concerning satellite imagery, which has proven to be a useful tool, in particular in contributing to the assessment of claims of undeclared nuclear activities, it is of course unfortunate that the Agency, like the United Nations as a whole, does not have an independent satellite capability, as was proposed some years ago by France. As that is unlikely to change any time soon, we will continue to make use of available commercial and Member State satellite imagery. But I should stress that, because the Agency cannot verify the authenticity of such imagery, we rely on it only as an auxiliary source to corroborate other information which we can authenticate, and it is never the sole basis of our assessments. Depending on the availability of other information, this may mean that the Agency´s assessments in some cases are inconclusive.

AIPS Funding

As previously reported to you, an Agency-wide Information System for Programme Support (AIPS) is the centrepiece for increasing efficiency and effectiveness in programme delivery. In August, the Board approved use of the 2006 cash surplus for AIPS unless individual Member States elected to "opt out".

Very few Member States chose to do so and I am pleased to report that, as a result, together with extrabudgetary contributions, approximately €4.5 million has now been secured for AIPS. I am grateful for this broad based support.

The cost for the first stage of AIPS, which addresses finance and procurement and will provide the capability necessary to implement International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), is nearly €10 million. To fund the remainder of that amount, the Board directed the Secretariat to use any further extrabudgetary funding and any savings that can be achieved in regular budget appropriations. The Secretariat will make every effort to do so.

An Agency that is effective and efficient will be better placed to meet your needs and priorities.


Last update: 26 Nov 2019

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