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Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Our agenda for this meeting is centred on the report of the Technical Assistance and Co-operation Committee (TACC) and issues related to nuclear verification. I will discuss each of these topics and a number of other issues of interest to the Board.

Technical Co-Operation Programme

The TACC recommended the approval of TC programme funding for 2004. I would like to comment on a few aspects of the programme.

The focus of TC planning efforts continues to be the achievement of meaningful and sustained benefits to recipient Member States, in which country programme frameworks are used to ensure that our programmes are in line with national needs and priorities. Frequent evaluation, monitoring, follow-up and feedback help to ensure the continuing evolution of the programme. We are also focused on ensuring the efficiency of TC processes, including human resource management and procurement.

Programme implementation has been hampered somewhat this year by world events such as the SARS epidemic, and the increased global emphasis on security has, in some regions, led to additional restrictions on travel and on the transport of radioactive material. We will continue to seek the assistance of missions and capitals in working through these issues.

I would call for renewed attention by all parties to TC funding mechanisms, some of which are currently under review. It is vital that this funding be reliable, and that Member States demonstrate their collective commitment to the programme by paying their share of programme costs.

Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Status of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
The Agency's role as an independent, objective verification body remains central to the effectiveness of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. However, for the Agency to provide the required assurance, it must have the required authority.

As you are aware, the authority of the Agency remains uneven. Currently, 45 States party to the NPT have yet to fulfil their legal obligations to bring NPT safeguards agreements with the Agency into force. For those countries, we cannot provide any assurance. More than six years after the Model Additional Protocol was approved by the Board, additional protocols have been signed by just 78 States, and only 38 of these States have their protocols in force. This means that 114 States have not yet concluded additional protocols. For countries without an additional protocol in force, our ability to provide comprehensive and credible assurances - particularly about the absence of undeclared activities and material - is limited. Only for those countries with both a safeguards agreement and an additional protocol in force can we provide such assurances and move towards implementing integrated safeguards.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran
You have before you my third report this year on the implementation of safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The report is self-contained, and therefore I will not summarize it, but will limit myself to a few additional comments.

It is clear that today we have much more knowledge and understanding about Iran's nuclear programme - its history, nature and extent - than at any time in the past. This is welcome. Our efforts to verify the programme, however, have also revealed a deliberate counter effort, that spanned many years, to conceal material, facilities and activities that were required to have been declared under the safeguards agreement - material, facilities and activities that covered the entire spectrum of the nuclear fuel cycle, including experiments in enrichment and reprocessing. This has inevitably resulted in many breaches and failures on the part of Iran to comply with its obligations under its safeguards agreement. I am pleased to note that corrective actions have already been taken or are being taken. However, these breaches and failures are, of themselves, a matter of deep concern, and run counter to both the letter and the spirit of the safeguards agreement.

Despite these efforts at concealment, we have managed nonetheless since last February, and after a period of delay, to inch forward steadily, due to an investigative process of inspection that is the hallmark of the safeguards system today. Aided by newly available information, and an array of new technologies, the system has been able to shed light on verification outcomes that contradicted the explanations provided and on questions that remained unanswered. The Agency continued to press systematically and professionally for the correct explanations and the right answers, but the process remained slow, piecemeal and frustrating at times.

The situation has changed significantly since the middle of last month, when a new chapter of implementation of safeguards in Iran seems to have begun, a chapter that is characterized by active co-operation and openness on the part of Iran, and in which Iran has assured us that it has now committed itself to a policy of full disclosure. Naturally our recent work has been much aided and accelerated by this change of policy, and by Iran taking the specific actions, deemed essential and urgent, requested of it in Paragraph 4 of the Board's September resolution. This is a welcome development, and I sincerely hope that this new policy of active co-operation will continue.

As you are aware, Iran has agreed to conclude an additional protocol, which is before you for approval. I trust this protocol will be signed and brought into force at the earliest possible date, and that Iran will, in the meantime, act as if the protocol were in force. Iran has also decided to suspend enrichment related and reprocessing activities as a confidence building measure, a measure requested by the Board at its last meeting. This is also a positive development. This suspension, I was informed by Iran, will cover all activities at the Natanz enrichment facility, the production of all feed material for enrichment and the importation of any enrichment related items. Iran has requested the Agency to verify this suspension. We are currently working with the Iranian authorities to have a precise definition and detailed list of all suspended activities to enable us to perform this task. Our verification of this suspension, as mentioned in the report, could be implemented as part of our verification activities in Iran under its safeguards agreement and additional protocol.

Our work in Iran is very much a work in progress, and one of the urgent tasks ahead of us is to verify the origin of the high enriched uranium particles found at a number of locations in Iran. This will require, as stated in the report, full co-operation by a number of States from which certain equipment and components originated. I do hope this co-operation will be forthcoming.

Our ability to reach a conclusion on the nature of Iran's nuclear programme and the correctness and completeness of Iran's declaration about its nuclear activities will very much depend on our ability to implement in full the safeguards agreement and the additional protocol - and will also depend on Iran implementing a policy of full transparency and openness. As I stated in the report, in view of Iran's past record of concealment, we expect that it will take some time and much verification effort before confidence can be built and the conclusion reached that Iran's programme has been fully declared and is exclusively for peaceful purposes. As we also stated in the report, however, we have no proof to date that Iran's past undeclared activities have been linked to a nuclear weapons programme.

The report before you is factual and comprehensive. It is intended to enable the Board to exercise its responsibilities, prerogatives and options. I trust that in doing so you will continue to foster the joint efforts of Member States and the Secretariat to do their utmost to ensure full respect for non-proliferation obligations, primarily through verification and diplomacy. In the case of Iran, we have made a good start, but we need to stay the course.

Implementation of Safeguards in the DPRK
The situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to pose a serious and immediate challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As you are aware, the Agency has not performed any verification activities in the DPRK since December 2002, and therefore cannot provide any assurance about the non-diversion of nuclear material. I have continued to emphasize the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Korean crisis again through a combination of verification and diplomacy, and it is my hope that the six-party talks will lead to such a settlement. I have also continued to urge that any future settlement ensure, inter alia, the return of the DPRK to the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and provide the Agency with the authority necessary for it to provide credible, comprehensive assurances regarding the nature of the nuclear programme in the DPRK.

Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions Relating to Iraq
The Agency's mandate in Iraq under various Security Council resolutions still stands. In May, the Security Council adopted resolution 1483 in which, inter alia, it expressed its intention to revisit the mandates of the IAEA and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). We are awaiting the results of that review and further guidance from the Council and, in the meantime, maintaining capacity here in Vienna in our Iraq Nuclear Verification Office. I believe that, once the security situation permits, it would be prudent for UN and Agency inspectors to return to Iraq, to bring the weapons files to a closure - and, through implementation of a Security Council approved plan for long term monitoring, to provide ongoing assurance that programmes related to the development and production of weapons of mass destruction have not been resumed.

Other Items of Interest

Supply of Low Enriched Uranium to Romania
The Government of Romania has requested Agency assistance in securing the transfer of low enriched uranium from the United States of America, as fuel for Romania's research reactor at Pitesti, which is being converted from the use of high enriched uranium. The core conversion project is being carried out under a TC project, financed by the USA and Romania. The arrangements for supply of the fuel are subject to the Board's approval of a proposed Fifth Supply Agreement, which is before you.

International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability
The newly appointed International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability (INLEX) met for the first time last month. The Group will serve as a forum of expertise to advise on nuclear liability issues, with a view to promoting an effective and global nuclear liability regime. One of its first tasks will be to prepare an explanatory text for the liability conventions under the Agency's auspices, in order to permit a better understanding of the present regime. It will also provide advice on how the Agency can assist its Member States in strengthening their national legal frameworks in this area. The next INLEX meeting is scheduled for early next year.

Review Meeting on the Joint Convention
Last week, the Agency hosted the first review meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Contracting Parties found that the review process had already contributed to safety improvements, by identifying weaknesses in national programmes and highlighting good practices in national reports. The primary concern at the meeting was the comparatively modest number of Parties that have ratified the Joint Convention. While nearly all countries have radioactive waste, and could therefore benefit from being party to the Convention, there are at present only 33 Contracting Parties. I would urge all Member States to join the Convention.

Newly Reconstituted International Nuclear Safety Group
As you know, I have recently reconstituted the International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) to be a more independent, authoritative body, capable of providing insights and recommendations to the Secretariat and Member States, the nuclear industry and the public - in short, to all stakeholders in the nuclear community. The new group is made up of 16 internationally recognized experts from around the world, representing national regulatory bodies, the nuclear industry, and academic and research institutions. Their area of focus will be the safety of nuclear installations, including all issues that could relate to or impact on facility safety.


The Agency continues to assume growing responsibilities in nearly all areas of its work. While dealing with a broad range of issues this year, the value of a close partnership between the Secretariat and its Member States has been repeatedly demonstrated. I trust this relationship will continue to be strong, and that your support will continue to be forthcoming.


Last update: 26 Nov 2019

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