I will begin by congratulating the Republic of San Marino on becoming the 160th Member State of the IAEA.
As you know, the meeting of the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee ended yesterday. I am grateful for the strong support for the Agency's TC activities shown by Member States.
For over fifty years now, the TC programme has proved its worth on the ground, helping Member States to use peaceful nuclear technology to bring real benefits to their people. The programme has proven to be adaptable and capable of responding to Member State needs effectively. At the moment, for example, work is proceeding on the development of an important new inter-regional project to improve understanding of the impact of climate change on fragile polar and mountainous ecosystems. The proposed four-year project would address the retreat of glaciers, the loss of permafrost, and the reduction in snow cover resulting from climate change.
This is just one of 532 new projects proposed for the next TC cycle. Nuclear safety and security, health and nutrition, and food and agriculture remain the top three core programme priorities for Member States. I understand that we can count on government cost-sharing and extrabudgetary contributions for part of the outstanding footnote-a/ component. I welcome this indication of Member State support for national TC programmes. Our activities in the area of environmental protection, as well as on cancer treatment, were among the areas which I highlighted in my speech to the UN General Assembly on 5 November.
It is important that funding for the TC programme is maintained at a level that ensures the Agency can meet the growing needs of Member States in the coming years. Recognising the difficult economic climate in many countries, we have prepared the TC Programme for 2014-2015 on the basis of an expected Rate of Attainment - the percentage of the TCF Target actually paid by Member States - which is lower than in the last two TC cycles. I remind you all of the importance of contributing on time, and in full, to the TCF.
Preparations for the 2016-2017 TC programme cycle are already beginning. As requested by you, I am seeking to strengthen the application of the Due Account mechanism. This means that we take account of the extent to which countries have paid their TCF contributions when allocating resources for TC projects.
You will recall that additional resources have been made available for our cancer control activities within the TC programme. The move of the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) to the Department of Technical Cooperation will help to ensure a more comprehensive approach to cancer care activities within the Agency.
We continue to build capacity in Member States through the Human Health Campus, making interactive learning material available online and on mobile devices. Monthly online seminars in nuclear medicine have been developed in English and Spanish, in cooperation with major international professional organizations. This has already made possible the training of 500 nuclear physicians in computed tomography and positron emission tomography.
Cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death throughout the world. Nuclear techniques have an important role to play in patient care. To share current practices and trends in the use of diagnostic techniques, the Agency organized an International Conference on Integrated Medical Imaging in Cardiovascular Diseases in Vienna in October. Around 350 participants from 89 Member States attended this event, which was organized in cooperation with leading professional associations.
The Agency is actively supporting Member States in their efforts to prevent the spread of new and emerging plant diseases. After our success in addressing concerns about black stem rust in wheat, using mutation breeding, the IAEA was approached by Guatemala for help in overcoming coffee leaf rust. Coffee exports are very important for the economies of many countries. Through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division, we are developing mutation breeding protocols for coffee and formulating a new project, bringing together pathologists, biotechnologists and mutation breeders to improve resistance against coffee leaf rust.
As you know, we are developing a strategic plan for the modernization of the nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, known as the ReNuAL project. Member States will be briefed on the draft plan and invited to comment. Comments will be taken into account in developing the final plan. I hope to invite you to a ground-breaking ceremony at Seibersdorf next year.
I thank the distinguished Ambassador of South Africa, H.E. Mr. Mabhongo, for taking on the leadership of the new Friends of ReNuAL group, which will assist us in raising funds for the renovation.
Turning now to nuclear energy, the number of nuclear power reactors in operation throughout the world stands at 435. Seventy-three reactors are under construction. So far this year, construction has started on nine reactors. With the start of construction of Ostrovets-1 early this month, Belarus has become the first nuclear "newcomer" in Europe and only the second country in three decades to start building its first nuclear power plant. Turkey's preparations for the introduction of nuclear power were the subject of an IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission this month.
During the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - known as COP-19 - which ended last week in Warsaw, Poland, we highlighted the role of nuclear energy in mitigating the effects of climate change. Our latest publication on this important topic, Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2013, suggests that nuclear energy could make an important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions from power generation by 2050.
We have continued our efforts to help States reduce the civilian use of high enriched uranium (HEU). This month, Hungary became the ninth nation to remove all HEU research reactor fuel from its territory since a joint initiative of the Agency, the United States and the Russian Federation began in 2002. Altogether, more than 2 000 kilograms of Russian-supplied HEU have been transferred to Russia in 56 shipment operations in the last 11 years.
Nuclear Safety and Security
Our follow-up mission on remediation of large contaminated areas outside the Fukushima Daiichi Plant concluded last month. The Mission made a number of recommendations. It also said that, in remediation situations, an additional individual radiation dose of up to 20 millisieverts per year is acceptable and in line with international standards. The mission's final report is expected in December.
Another important mission to Japan is now under way, focussing on the Mid-and-Long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Units 1-4. It will also look into issues related to the leakage of contaminated water.
Separately, experts in marine monitoring from the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco assisted Japan in seawater monitoring and in the dissemination of information. This is part of the Agency's efforts to help build public confidence in Japan and elsewhere in the remediation measures being undertaken.
Good progress continues to be made in implementing the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. My report on Assessment and Prognosis in Response to an Emergency at a Nuclear Power Plant outlines the way in which the IAEA's expanded response role in an emergency will be implemented, as called for in the Action Plan.
In nuclear security, International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions recently took place in the United States and Australia. This brings the total number of such missions to date to 61. I encourage all countries to make use of this important Agency service, regardless of the size of their nuclear programmes.
Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
I will now turn to nuclear verification.
Since my last report to the Board, Antigua and Barbuda has brought an additional protocol into force and Gabon has amended its small quantities protocol.
The number of States with additional protocols in force now stands at 122. I strongly hope that all other States will conclude additional protocols as soon as possible. I ask the 12 States without NPT safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay. I also call on States with the old small quantities protocols to amend or rescind them, if they have not yet done so.
I was pleased that many Ambassadors and other Member State representatives were able to attend the inauguration of the new Nuclear Material Laboratory at Seibersdorf in September. Our interim and long-term security concepts for Seibersdorf have taken shape, in consultation with the Austrian authorities. Functions will gradually move from the old laboratory over the next 12 to 16 months. Once again, I encourage all Member States in a position to do so to make a financial contribution to this important project.
Safeguards Information Technology
I draw your attention to another item of vital infrastructure highlighted in the 2012-2017 Medium Term Strategy: The Safeguards Information System. The information technology on which we rely for day-to-day safeguards implementation is outdated and increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain. The system is also vulnerable to cyber attacks. Modernizing the safeguards IT system is therefore an urgent necessity. Next year, we will present plans for this vital investment in the future of safeguards.
You will recall that, at the September meeting, the Board took note of my report on the Conceptualization and Development of Safeguards Implementation at the State Level. We are now preparing a supplementary document which will provide clarifications and additional information, as requested by the Board.
We have carefully examined the points raised at the September Board and the General Conference. On 8 November, we circulated a Note which identifies eight thematic areas in which questions were asked. I invite all Member States to provide comments and raise any additional questions they may have by mid-December. Starting in early 2014, we also plan to hold a series of technical meetings and other consultations. This process should provide a sound basis for the preparation of the supplementary document.
I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The Agency continues to monitor developments at the Yongbyon site, mainly through satellite imagery. Activities have been observed at the site that are consistent with an effort to restart the 5MW(e) reactor. However, as the Agency has no access to the site, it is not possible for us to conclusively determine whether the reactor has been re-started.
The Agency maintains its readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme. I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in implementing its Safeguards Agreement and to resolve all outstanding issues.
The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. But we are not in a position 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.
Earlier this month, I visited Tehran and met the Vice-President of Iran, Mr. Salehi, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Zarif. On November 11, I signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran together with the Vice-President. Under the Framework, Iran and the Agency agreed "to strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme through the resolution of all outstanding issues." Iran committed itself under the Framework to implementing six practical measures within three months. I can inform the Board that we have received an invitation from Iran to visit the Heavy Water Production Plant at Arak on 8 December. All other outstanding issues, including those raised in my previous reports to the Board, will be addressed in subsequent steps.
The Framework for Cooperation is a result of our efforts to resolve all outstanding issues, as requested by the Board of Governors in its resolutions of November 2011 and September 2012, as well as in its previous resolutions. It is an important step forward, but much more needs to be done. I continue to urge Iran to fully implement its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations. I look forward to reporting further progress, including on implementation of the six practical measures, to the Board next March.
I have received a letter from EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, on behalf of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, concerning the Joint Plan of Action agreed with Iran on 24 November in Geneva. I have distributed the text to Member States as requested. The letter from the High Representative states that "The IAEA will have an important role in the verification of the nuclear-related measures" which were agreed in Geneva.
I welcome the Joint Plan of Action. We are now looking at the way in which the elements of the agreement relevant to the Agency could be put into practice. This will include the implications for funding and staffing. This analysis will take some time. I will consult the Board as soon as possible when it has been completed.
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic
As far as implementation of safeguards in the Syrian Arab Republic is concerned, there have been no new developments since my last report to the Board. I renew my call to Syria to cooperate fully with us in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations.
Cooperation Agreement with the United States
Negotiation of a Third Amendment to the Agreement for Co-operation between the Agency and the United States of America has recently been concluded. The Board is recommended to authorize me to conclude the Third Amendment in order to extend the duration of the Agreement, which allows for the possible supply of nuclear material to Member States through the Agency.
Turning now to management issues, security of information remains a priority for the Agency. Last month, we informed Member States about an incident involving a malware infection of Agency computers in VIC common areas. Since then, security measures on all conference room PCs have been increased to protect the Agency's information and IT infrastructure. These changes are intended to prevent any replication of malware, including worms, viruses, and other malicious code, through portable devices.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I wish to inform you that Ms. Laura Rockwood, Head of the Non-Proliferation and Policy-Making Section of the Office of Legal Affairs, will retire in two days' time after 28 years of exceptionally distinguished service to the IAEA. Laura has a profound knowledge of the legal aspects of nuclear safeguards. She took part in some of the Agency's most important verification missions. She has made an enormous contribution to the Agency's safeguards activities. I thank Laura warmly for her dedication and wish her health and happiness in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.