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Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

by Mr. Chairman,

It is exactly three months today since I began my term as Director General of the IAEA. The work has been fascinating, challenging and rewarding.

Before taking up substantive issues, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my deepest sympathy to the governments and peoples of Chile and Haiti after the terrible earthquakes in those countries. In the case of Haiti, the Agency acted quickly to arrange the shipment of eight mobile X-ray units to help with medical care in the aftermath of the tragedy. We remain in close contact with our partners in Chile and Haiti and will continue to offer assistance in the coming months.

Let me highlight some recent activities of the Agency. We are finally starting the modernization of our laboratories at Seibersdorf, which is a long overdue project. On the management front, we have also carried out a restructuring which will make the laboratories more effective and efficient in serving the needs of Member States.

I have given special priority to the Agency´s work on cancer control. This was a focus of my first official trip as Director General, which was to Nigeria in December. It was also an important element of my discussions with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York.

I will have more to say on some of these points shortly. First, I will address issues relating to nuclear energy.

Nuclear Energy

As the Nuclear Technology Review 2010 shows, nuclear power is enjoying growing acceptance throughout the world as a stable and clean source of energy that can help to mitigate the impact of climate change. More than 60 countries are considering introducing nuclear power to generate electricity. Projections for future growth in the use of nuclear power have again been revised upwards.

This expansion will clearly lead to significant additional demand for the Agency´s services in all related areas in the coming decades. We have already re-focussed our activities to help meet the needs of newcomers to nuclear power. I firmly believe that access to nuclear power should not be limited to developed countries. It should also be available to interested developing countries to help them lift their people out of poverty. Naturally, it is the sovereign right of every Member State to decide whether or not to introduce nuclear power. The Agency will provide as much assistance as possible to countries which take this option. My goal is that Member States embarking on the path towards introducing nuclear power should start to see tangible progress in the years to come as a result of the Agency´s efforts.

The expansion in nuclear power also raises the question of ensuring reliable supplies of nuclear fuel. With the assistance of the Agency, there has been a discussion among Member States for several years about possible mechanisms to ensure reliable supplies of nuclear power reactor fuel for countries with nuclear power programmes. Last November, the Board approved a Russian proposal to set up a low enriched uranium reserve available to Member States upon request from the Agency.

In January, we distributed an information paper related to comments and questions from Member States on what such mechanisms might involve. I believe that the Agency is the appropriate forum for discussions because we can ensure transparency and provide assistance to Member States. It is for Member States to decide on appropriate fuel assurance frameworks.

Tehran Research Reactor

I would like to inform you about the current situation concerning Iran´s request to the Agency for assistance in providing fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, as I receive many questions in this regard.

In June 2009, the Agency received a request from Iran for assistance in obtaining fuel for the research reactor in Tehran, which produces isotopes for medical purposes. In October 2009, at a meeting with the Governments of Iran, France, the Russian Federation and the United States, the Agency made a proposal under which Iranian low enriched uranium (LEU) would be shipped to Russia for further enrichment and then to France for fabrication into fuel. Three of the four countries gave their consent to this proposal.

In a letter to the Agency dated 18 February, 2010, Iran said it continued to wish to buy the necessary nuclear fuel or, if this was not possible, to exchange some of its LEU for reactor fuel from abroad. Iran requested the IAEA to relay its request to potential suppliers and to facilitate the provision of the fuel. The Agency circulated Iran´s letter to Member States as requested.

The arrangement proposed by the Agency in October 2009 remains on the table. I believe it would ensure continued operation of the Tehran Research Reactor and serve as a confidence-building measure. At the same time, I am following up on Iran´s February 18 request, in accordance with the IAEA Statute, and have been in contact with the relevant countries.

Nuclear Safety and Security

While ensuring safety and security is the responsibility of each sovereign state, it is important that countries with new and expanding nuclear power programmes participate actively in the global nuclear safety and security regime. I encourage all Member States that have not yet done so to implement all of the relevant safety conventions and codes of conduct and to make use of the full range of Agency services, including peer reviews.

As the Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2009 points out, the safety performance of the nuclear industry remains high. Key safety performance indicators - for example relating to unplanned reactor shutdowns or radiation exposure to workers - continue to improve.

However, safety is an area in which there is no room for complacency. As the Nuclear Safety Review notes, the number of nuclear power plants that have been in operation for more than 30 years is growing steadily. The issue of extending the operating life of such power plants without any decline in safety needs to be systematically addressed.

I would like to bring one related issue to the Board´s attention. Restrictions on the transport of the radioisotope Cobalt-60 and other medical sources by airlines and shipping companies are causing serious problems for some countries in maintaining adequate radiotherapy services. The Agency has established an International Steering Committee to address this issue. I urge all Member States to cooperate in finding workable solutions and ensure that thousands of medical patients are not denied life-saving treatment.

As far as nuclear security is concerned, we have begun implementing the 2010-2013 Nuclear Security Plan. A high priority is for the Agency to provide increased education and training in nuclear security for all regions. Good progress has been made in developing new documents in the Nuclear Security Series. One of these will be Revision 5 to INFCIRC/225 on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities, one of the Agency´s longest-standing documents in this field. Although it is a non-binding document, INFCIRC/225 is of great importance to many States and it has been incorporated into many nations´ laws and many inter-State agreements.

Cancer Control

The Nuclear Technology Review 2010 highlights the expansion in the use of nuclear medicine in cancer management. Rapid growth in the use of diagnostic nuclear medical imaging is also increasing the demand for radiopharmaceuticals. The Review provides an overview of the situation concerning the shortage of supply of Molybdenum-99.

As I informed Member States after taking up office, I have made cancer control a priority for my first year. I spoke on this subject at the World Economic Forum in Davos and have raised it in numerous bilateral meetings. My message is simple: cancer is a serious problem in developing countries; it should be recognized as a vital part of the global health agenda; and the IAEA can play an important role in improving cancer control in developing countries, in cooperation with the WHO and other partners.

Our work, especially through the PACT programme, undoubtedly makes a difference, but there is much more that needs to be done. Our goal must be to ensure that all developing countries have the personnel and equipment they need to provide a good quality of care to their people.

This year we will launch two important projects. One is a pilot project for the Regional African Cancer Training Network. The other is a Virtual University for Cancer Control, a cost-free service to help countries with human resource development in prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment. Cancer in developing countries will be the focus of the Scientific Forum during the General Conference in September and we will work hard to make this a high-impact event. I know we can count on your continued support.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
You have before you a draft comprehensive safeguards agreement for the Republic of Angola and draft additional protocols for the Republic of Angola and the Republic of The Gambia. Last week, the Agency received a letter from the Republic of Iraq informing us that it will begin implementing its Additional Protocol on a provisional basis, with immediate effect, until the protocol formally enters into force.

With the recent entry into force of the Additional Protocol with the Republic of the Philippines, which I very much welcome, additional protocols are now in force for 95 States. I hope that other States will follow suit and that we will soon pass the milestone of 100 additional protocols in force. I call on all States that have not yet done so to bring into force additional protocols without delay.

We have also had encouraging progress with regard to the conclusion and entry into force of comprehensive safeguards agreements. In the last year, nearly a third of countries without NPT safeguards agreements brought such instruments into force. I ask the 22 remaining States to continue this positive trend and take action as soon as possible. This is of particular importance ahead of the NPT Review Conference in May.

I also ask those States with small quantities protocols that have not yet done so to amend them without delay.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea
As the Board is aware, the Agency´s inspectors left the DPRK in April last year after the DPRK ceased all cooperation with the Agency. The Agency is no longer able to implement the ad hoc monitoring and verification arrangement in the DPRK. I therefore have nothing to report to the Board on any activities of the IAEA in relation to the DPRK.

However, I regard the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as a matter of great importance. I commend the tireless efforts of China and the other parties concerned to resume the Six Party Talks and to resolve this issue. I believe the Agency could and should play a key role in any future verification arrangements for the DPRK.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran
You have received my report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is longer than previous reports because I wanted my first report to be a stand-alone document. I tried to make it factual, without overdoing the detail.

The Agency continues, under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with Iran, to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but we cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the Agency with the necessary cooperation.

The necessary cooperation includes, among other things, implementation of relevant resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council, implementation of the Additional Protocol and of modified Code 3.1, as well as clarification of issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran´s nuclear programme.

I request Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations as a matter of high priority.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
As my report on the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic shows, Syria has not cooperated with the Agency since June 2008 in connection with the unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations. As a consequence, the Agency has not been able to make progress towards resolving the outstanding issues related to those sites since the previous report to the Board of Governors. It would be helpful if Israel shared with the Agency any relevant information which it may possess. Full cooperation is also needed from Syria to facilitate the resolution of issues concerning the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor.

I call upon Syria to engage with the Agency on all of these issues and to provide prompt access to all relevant information so that the Agency can confirm that all nuclear material in Syria is in peaceful activities. In this regard, it would be helpful if Syria would conclude an additional protocol, which would facilitate the Agency´s verification work.

Management and Budget Issues

A draft Budget Update for 2011 has been circulated. While the Agency needs an increase in its budget - almost entirely for major capital investments - we are aware of the financial constraints facing Member States. We have taken note of the clear message from many of you that we need to prioritise more, improve efficiencies and phase out projects in areas where the Agency does not hold a competitive advantage.

At 2010 prices, the estimates in the Budget Update for 2011 are €4.8 million lower than the preliminary 2011 budget estimates presented in document GC(53)/5. This means that the proposed budget increase between this year and next is 9.9% instead of 11.4%. The reduction reflects decreases in the operational regular budget of €1.0 million and in the capital regular budget of €3.8 million.

As part of our continuing efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness, we have completed a realignment of the management of the Agency´s laboratories at Seibersdorf. A new Office of Safeguards Analytical Services has been created, which will provide the Department of Safeguards with complete analytical services, including those from the Network of Analytical Laboratories. This will improve our analytical capabilities, streamline processes and harmonize lines of authority. The restructuring has no implications for the level of the budget estimate. A detailed report will be circulated shortly.

Construction will start soon on the clean laboratory extension at Seibersdorf. I look forward to inviting you to the ground-breaking ceremony.


Mr. Chairman,

I will represent the Agency at a number of important events in the coming months, starting next week with the Conference on Access to Civil Nuclear Energy in Paris. In April, I will participate in the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Obama in Washington. In May, I will attend the NPT Review Conference. I hope the Review Conference will be a success and will achieve a substantive outcome.

I would like to end by expressing my gratitude for the support and cooperation which I have received from Member States in my first three months as Director General.

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Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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