Our agenda for this meeting is focused on the report of the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee (TACC) and issues related to nuclear verification.
Technical Cooperation Programme
You have before you the Agency´s Technical Cooperation (TC) Programme for 2008, as conveyed by the TACC to the Board. While the spotlight is often focused on the Agency´s nuclear verification role, much of our activity is centred on helping Member States address their development needs. With our TC programme, we are highlighting how peaceful nuclear technology can be used to address poverty, hunger and disease - crises that, regrettably, are too often given less visibility on the global stage. Today, the Agency´s TC programme comprises over 1000 projects distributed in more than 50 fields of activity in 115 Member States.
The TC programme is an evolutionary programme that responds to the evolving needs of Member States. A good example is in the use of radiation for plant breeding, which has produced a long chain of success stories: wheat varieties bred to thrive in dry climates; cocoa trees resistant to local viruses; barley that can flourish at high altitudes; or various fruits and vegetables bred for higher nutritional yield.
In recent years, we have witnessed increased consideration of the use of crops for bio-fuels. This was, in fact, a topic of considerable discussion at the recent meeting of UN heads of agencies in New York. Some are beginning to question the wisdom of borrowing from the global food supply to supplement an ever greater demand for fuel.
Here again, it may be that radiation enhanced plant breeding can offer solutions. For example, it might be worth exploring whether oil-rich plants such as jatropha or saw-grass could be bred for both greater oil yield and better suitability for growing on wastelands and other soils not suitable for food production. This is but one example of how we can expect nuclear applications and the TC programme to continue to evolve to address emerging needs.
The TC programme is also seeing a rising interest by many Member States in Agency assistance in exploring the merits of nuclear power. The Agency assists with national energy studies in 77 Member States, 29 of which are exploring nuclear energy as an option. New TC projects have begun in several Member States to provide direct advice on introducing nuclear power and setting up the necessary infrastructure.
The TC programme is also evolving to reflect the enhancement of capacities and infrastructures for safe and secure nuclear technology in many recipient Member States. In some cases, this is leading to greater regional self-sufficiency and the ability to draw on collective, specialized expertise. It has also brought opportunities for cooperative regional ventures, in areas such as water management and disease control. And as you may have noted in our report, more recipient Member States are making cost sharing contributions to supplement their national TC programmes - for example, to purchase radiotherapy equipment.
I am pleased with the overall improvement in contributions to TC funding. I hope that this trend will continue. It is essential that all Member States, both donors and recipients, pay their full share in a timely and predictable manner.
Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Status of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
The Agency´s role as an independent and competent verification body remains central to the effectiveness of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As I have repeatedly stated, effective verification requires four things: adequate legal authority; state-of-the-art technology; access to all relevant information and locations; and sufficient human and financial resources. The extent of the Agency´s authority - and therefore its ability to effectively fulfil this role - remains uneven.
Safeguards agreements are now in force in 163 States. However, more than 100 States have yet to bring into force additional protocols, and 30 States party to the NPT have not even brought into force their required comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency.
Implementation of Safeguards in the DPRK
At the request of the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Agency has been verifying and monitoring the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities since 18 July 2007. More recently, work has been proceeding on the disablement of some of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities under Six-Party arrangements without the Agency´s involvement.
I would recall that the Six-Party Joint Statement of 19 September 2005 envisions the DPRK "returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards". Under the NPT, the IAEA has the responsibility to verify that all nuclear material in a State Party is declared to the Agency and is under safeguards. We stand ready to assume this or any other verification role as and when requested.
Verification in the Islamic Republic of Iran
The report before you provides an update on the implementation of Agency safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As you know, the Agency has so far not been able to verify some important aspects of Iran´s nuclear programme: those relevant to the scope and nature of Iran´s centrifuge enrichment activities, as well as those relevant to alleged studies and other activities that could have military applications. Iran´s past undeclared nuclear activities, together with these verification issues, resulted in the Agency´s inability to make progress in providing assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and created a confidence deficit about the nature of Iran´s nuclear programme. This prompted the Security Council to adopt a number of resolutions calling on Iran to clarify these outstanding verification issues, and to undertake simultaneously confidence building measures, including the implementation of the additional protocol and the suspension of uranium enrichment activities.
The work plan agreed by the Secretariat and Iran in August, in which Iran has finally committed itself to address the outstanding issues relevant to its nuclear activities, is proceeding according to schedule. The report outlines, inter alia, our progress to date.
As the report makes clear, as regards the first outstanding issue - the scope and nature of Iran´s centrifuge enrichment activities - there has been good progress in connection with the verification of Iran´s past acquisition of P-1 and P-2 centrifuge enrichment technologies. The Agency has concluded that the information provided by Iran in that regard is consistent with the Agency´s own investigation. However, as in all verification cases, the Agency will continue to seek corroboration of this conclusion as we continue to verify the completeness of Iran´s declarations concerning its nuclear material and activities, and as we investigate the remaining outstanding issues - namely, the uranium particle contamination at a technical university, as well as the alleged studies and other activities that could have military applications. In accordance with the work plan, this will take place over the next several weeks. I would note that Iran has provided the Agency with a copy of the 15-page document on uranium metal, which the Agency is currently examining. The Agency is also continuing to work on arrangements to make copies of the alleged studies available to Iran.
Our progress over the past two months has been made possible by an increased level of cooperation on the part of Iran, in accordance with the work plan. However, I would urge Iran to be more proactive in providing information, and in accelerating the pace of this cooperation, in order for the Agency to be able to clarify all major remaining outstanding issues by the end of the year.
With regard to Iran´s current nuclear activities, we have been able to verify the non-diversion of all declared nuclear material. We also have in place a safeguards approach for the Natanz facility that enables us to credibly verify all enrichment activities there.
However, as with all States that do not have an additional protocol in force, we are unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. This is especially crucial in the case of Iran, because of its history of undeclared activities, and the corresponding need to restore confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran´s nuclear programme. As the report indicates, the Agency´s knowledge about specific aspects of Iran´s current programme has diminished since 2006, when Iran ceased to provide the Agency with information under the additional protocol and additional transparency measures. This relates especially to current procurement, R&D and possible manufacturing of centrifuges. I urge Iran, therefore, to resume without delay the implementation of the additional protocol. The Agency needs to have maximum clarity not only about Iran´s past programme but, equally or more important, about the present. I should note, however, that the Agency has no concrete information about possible undeclared nuclear material or weaponization activities in Iran, other than the outstanding issues I have already mentioned.
Naturally, as we go through our own investigation of Iran´s past and present nuclear programme, I continue to urge Iran to take all the confidence building measures called for by the Security Council, including the suspension of enrichment related activities. This will be in the best interests of both Iran and the international community, and should facilitate the return by all parties to dialogue and negotiations. The earlier that negotiations are resumed, the better the prospects of defusing this crisis. It is only through such negotiations that a comprehensive and durable solution can be reached, and that confidence in the future direction of Iran´s nuclear programme can be built.
Multinational Fuel Cycle and Assurance of Supply Initiative
As I have reported to the Board on more than one occasion, the expected expansion in nuclear power will drive a commensurate increase in demand for nuclear fuel cycle services and the need for an assurance of supply mechanism. It could also increase the potential proliferation risks created by the spread of sensitive nuclear technology. Ensuring that the nuclear energy option remains open and available to all countries in a way that promotes cooperation, trust and equity requires effective verification and control of nuclear material. This was the subject of the report by a prominent group of experts that I commissioned two years ago.
Since that time, a number of proposals and ideas have been put forward relevant to the development of a new, multilateral framework for the nuclear fuel cycle - including, as a first step, a reliable mechanism for the assurance of supply of nuclear fuel. These proposals and ideas were compiled in my report to the Board of 13 June 2007. The Secretariat has been reviewing these proposals, inter alia, to ensure: (1) that any such mechanism would be apolitical and non-discriminatory, and would be available to all States that are in compliance with their safeguards obligations; and (2) that it would not require a State to give up its rights regarding any parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Since the June report, the Russian Federation has proposed setting aside a fuel bank under IAEA control at the fuel storage facility at Angarsk, which would be available to States as a supply of last resort. In addition, the German Government has continued to examine the arrangements for creating an international enrichment centre, open to participation by all interested States.
The Secretariat will continue to update you on these and other proposals, as appropriate.
Safeguards Analytical Laboratory
You have before you a report on the status of the Agency´s Safeguards Analytical Laboratory. You may recall that, for several years, I have been speaking out about the detrimental effect of budget restrictions on the Secretariat´s ability to carry out core functions.
As far back as September 2002, I told the Board, "With the chronic and corrosive degree of underfunding of the programme, we are coming close to being unable to provide credible safeguards." In statements since that time, I have voiced my concern about the outdated equipment in our safeguards laboratories, as well as the importance of ensuring the Secretariat´s capacity to perform independent verification analysis.
To put it plainly, the Agency´s ability to provide independent and timely analysis of safeguards samples - one of the cornerstones of the safeguards regime - is at risk because of ageing technical infrastructure and analytical equipment at our Safeguards Analytical Laboratory. Perimeter security at the facility does not meet current Agency and UN system standards. The severe lack of space available to perform multiple operations involving nuclear and radioactive materials also raises the risk of not being able to meet Agency safety requirements.
To address these vulnerabilities, we have developed options for strengthening the Agency´s safeguards analytical capabilities, for addressing the current deficiencies at the laboratory and for alleviating related safety and security concerns. I would urge Board members to take note of the funding requirements described in the report, and to ensure that this crucial function can be adequately maintained.
Need for AIPS Funding
Let me mention one other area in which additional funding is urgently needed. In June of this year, the Board took the decision that the Agency should implement the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) by the year 2010. A pre-requisite for this is the significant upgrading of the Secretariat´s IT systems for finance and procurement - to enable them to accommodate IPSAS. We planned to accomplish this upgrade as an integral part of our effort to streamline and modernize our business processes through the introduction of a new Agency-wide Information System for Programme Support (AIPS) - since in this way we achieve considerable synergy and significant financial savings. Unfortunately, however, we cannot yet start with AIPS because we received no funding for it in the Regular Budget and, to date, extrabudgetary contributions have not been forthcoming.
AIPS is the centrepiece for increasing efficiency and effectiveness in programme delivery Agency-wide. A feasibility study indicated that it will generate economies on the order of €6 million per year. And time is of the essence - if AIPS is not begun early in 2008, the necessary upgrades in finance and procurement will not be in place in time to implement IPSAS in 2010. Thus, I once again ask you to ensure that the financial support needed for this key project - including extrabudgetary funding as necessary - is made available.
These issues - the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory and the AIPS system - are two urgent areas that I need to bring to the Board´s attention at this time. Other areas of Agency activity are also being reviewed through our "20/20" study, under which the Secretariat is looking into the programmatic requirements and financial resources needed through the end of the next decade, based on emerging trends, a thorough assessment of our obligations under the Statute, and the decisions of our Policy-making Organs. This study is similar to an analogous exercise I initiated shortly after taking office ten years ago. We hope to present this study to the Board at its June meeting for its consideration, after initial examination and advice by an independent high level panel of experts.