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Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

Madam Chairperson,

Two weeks ago, I addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

I expressed my conviction that nuclear science and technology have much to contribute to sustainable development in areas such as human health, agriculture and water management, as well as in energy.

I asked UN Member States to help ensure that the importance of science and technology is explicitly recognised as a central part of the post-2015 development agenda.

The Agency’s Member States have spent two days this week considering the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme. This is the main mechanism for ensuring that Member States which wish to use nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes gain access to it.

I am grateful for the strong support for our TC activities shown at the meeting of the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee.

The proposed TC Programme for 2015, the second year of the current cycle, is before you for approval. Health and nutrition is the largest area of activity, followed by nuclear safety and security, and then by food and agriculture. Together, these activities make up 68% of the core TC programme for 2015.

It is essential that Member States contribute to the Technical Cooperation Fund on time, and in full, in order to ensure that IAEA projects can be implemented as planned.

Preparations for the 2016–2017 TC programme are well underway. Around 660 projects are under preparation. I encourage large trans-boundary projects in which Member States, the Agency and other partners can join forces to tackle pressing development challenges.

This has been another busy year for the TC programme. The programme has continued to benefit from extrabudgetary support, much of it through the Peaceful Uses Initiative. I welcome your continued support for the PUI and encourage all countries in a position to do so to contribute to it.

The Agency again engaged in a wide range of technical cooperation activities, ranging from supporting the establishment of national action plans to reduce public exposure to indoor radon, to water management in the Sahel, and improving the productivity of agricultural land in Asia.

In Qatar, the Agency supported national efforts to improve agricultural productivity in land abandoned because of excess salt. Our role includes using isotopes to assess the efficiency of nutrient uptake by crops. We are working on expanding the application of the sterile insect technique to control mosquitoes which carry malaria. Ethiopia has inaugurated an industrial irradiator, partly funded by the Agency, to sterilise tsetse flies. This is a major milestone on the road to making the Southern Rift Valley tsetse-free.

In Chile, the Agency supported the construction of six new hot cells – used in the preparation of radiopharmaceutical products – in the laboratory of the Nuclear Energy Commission. Chile can now act as a resource country for the region in supplying isotopes essential in medical care.

Cancer remains a high priority. In recent months, we have increased awareness of the IAEA’s activities in cancer control – implemented through the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy – with a view to attracting new partnerships and funding. This included signing a Practical Arrangement with the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Foundation, established by former U.S. President George W. Bush. We had extensive discussions with 12 African First Ladies on how to strengthen comprehensive cancer control in their countries. This is now being followed-up at the national level. The IAEA’s Advisory Group on Increasing Access to Radiotherapy Technology in Low- and Middle-Income Countries has developed guidelines to ensure the long-term functionality of radiotherapy machines, which will be made available to Member States soon.

The Agency has been working to provide rapid assistance to countries affected by Ebola Virus Disease. Using the TC Programme Reserve mechanism, which allows for rapid response to urgent Member State needs, we supplied specialised diagnostic equipment to Sierra Leone last week. Procurement of equipment for Liberia is underway.

We have also been approached by Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Nigeria and will provide assistance requested by them, subject to the availability of extrabudgetary funds, including through the PUI.

Early next year, we plan to launch a four-year regional project to help African countries build capacity for the fast and sensitive diagnosis of diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans. This will help countries to identify the transmission pathways of diseases such as Ebola.

Nuclear Applications

Madam Chairperson,

Recent problems with food safety, including contaminated milk, bacteria in fresh foods, and food products tainted with dioxin, have underlined the importance of protecting consumers against food contamination. Last week, the IAEA and the FAO hosted an International Food Safety and Quality Symposium in Vienna. It brought together leading experts to discuss international efforts to improve food safety using nuclear techniques.

Work on the ReNuAL project to renovate the nuclear applications laboratories proceeds on schedule. I thank all of you who participated in the ground-breaking ceremony at Seibersdorf in September.

ReNuAL is a very important project for the Agency and it will benefit all Member States. The laboratories provide assistance to more than 150 of our 162 Member States. We need not just new equipment, but suitable buildings to house this equipment. For the project to remain on schedule, it is imperative that Member States provide extrabudgetary financial support to enable construction of the buildings to begin by the middle of next year. I therefore appeal to all countries to contribute generously, and I thank those that have already done so.

Nuclear Energy

Madam Chairperson,

Turning now to nuclear energy, the Agency is releasing its latest report on Climate Change and Nuclear Power today. As the report shows, global energy demand is likely to grow dramatically in the coming decades. At the same time, the world’s carbon footprint must be reduced. Along with hydropower and wind, nuclear energy has the lowest life-cycle CO2 emissions. As part of a low-carbon national energy portfolio, it contributes to the mitigation of climate change and can help to reduce concerns over volatile fuel prices and security of energy supply. I hope Member States will find the report useful as they prepare for next year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference.

More than 300 participants attended the Scientific Forum on radioactive waste during the General Conference. The Forum emphasized the need for a comprehensive, cradle-to-grave approach to radioactive waste management.

In October, we held the 25th Fusion Energy Conference, the world's largest conference in this field, in St Petersburg. Almost 1 000 experts from 39 countries discussed key scientific and technological issues as well as innovative concepts of relevance to fusion as a source of nuclear energy.

You have before you a report and draft resolution establishing new maximum limits for the exclusion of small quantities of nuclear material from the scope of application of the Vienna Conventions on nuclear liability. I would be grateful for the Board’s endorsement.

Assurance of Supply

Madam Chairperson,

My latest report on the establishment of the IAEA LEU Bank provides an update on progress. On the basis of a Programmatic Risk Assessment, undertaken with Kazakhstan, we have concluded that the existence of a geological fault nearby is not an obstacle to proceeding with the establishment of the LEU Bank at the proposed site.

Progress has been made in other areas as well. We are now dealing with the remaining technical issues with a view to presenting a Host State Agreement, and related transit agreements, for the Board’s approval as soon as possible.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Madam Chairperson,

Turning now to nuclear safety, the importance of safety in the use of radiation in medical procedures and other areas is a focus of growing attention in many developing countries. We recently conducted Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) missions in Cameroon and Zimbabwe. The Agency will organize the second International Conference on Occupational Radiation Protection from 1 to 5 December, in cooperation with other international organizations.

Next year, we will launch a new project on the decommissioning of damaged nuclear facilities. The aim is to enhance measures to ensure the safe long-term management of spent fuel and nuclear waste from disused facilities.   

As you know, the Agency has been working on an extensive report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, with the involvement of more than 150 international experts. Important additional information on the accident is being made available by the Japanese authorities and evaluated by the Agency. This information includes data from radiation monitoring of the public and the environment, results of analysis of some technical issues, and numerous interviews with individuals who played a role during the crisis phase. 

In order to allow sufficient time to carefully assess and analyse this new information, we will present a summary report – in all official languages – to the Board in June 2015, along with an electronic version of the full report. The full report will be formally presented, as planned, to the General Conference in September.

The Agency continues to assist Japan in sharing information internationally. A comparison of results of sea water analysis off Japan’s east coast, carried out by IAEA and Japanese laboratories, confirmed that data regularly reported by Japan give an accurate picture of the levels of radioactivity in near-shore coastal waters.

As you will recall, following a decision by the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, a Diplomatic Conference will take place in Vienna next February. The Agency is providing assistance requested by the Parties. I invite Contracting Parties to the CNS that have not yet done so to provide voluntary contributions to finance the Conference.

Since the last Board, four countries have ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Seventeen countries still need to ratify in order for this important nuclear security instrument to enter into force. I urge States to take the necessary steps before the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Amendment in July next year. 

I am pleased by growing Member State interest in International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions. An IPPAS mission is presently underway in Belgium, while a follow-up mission is taking place in Armenia. 

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols

Madam Chairperson,

I will now turn to nuclear verification.

Since my last report to the Board, Lao People’s Democratic Republic has signed an additional protocol. The number of States with additional protocols in force stands at 124. I strongly hope that remaining 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.

Safeguards Symposium
Last month, we held the 12th Safeguards Symposium in Vienna on the theme of linking strategy, implementation and people. There was strong participation from Member States and partner organisations and discussions were of high quality.

Safeguards Implementation
We continue to implement State-level safeguards approaches as set out in the supplementary document which the Board took note of in September. Our focus for the immediate future is to update the 53 State-level approaches already in place for States with integrated safeguards, in consultation with the State and/or regional authority involved. The next technical meeting on safeguards implementation will take place in January 2015 and will include an up-date on State-level safeguards approaches.

Safeguards Information Technology
My report on Modernization of Safeguards Information Technology outlines our plans to upgrade our IT system to enable us to implement safeguards more efficiently and effectively and reduce vulnerability to cyber attacks. The final steps in a modernization that started in 2005 will be carried out under the MOSAIC project. It will enhance existing tools and applications, introduce new ones, and strengthen information security.

MOSAIC will be funded from a combination of the Regular Budget, the Major Capital Investment Fund and extrabudgetary contributions. Details will be presented in the context of the 2016-2017 budget cycle and beyond. I would be grateful if all Member States in a position to do so would contribute funds for this important project.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Madam Chairperson,

I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations, to cooperate promptly with the Agency, and to resolve all outstanding issues, including those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country. The Agency will maintain its readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme. 

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Madam Chairperson,

As my latest report on safeguards implementation in Iran shows, 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.

The Agency continues to undertake monitoring and verification in relation to the nuclear-related measures set out in the Joint Plan of Action. I hope that current talks in Vienna between Iran and the E3+3 countries will have a positive outcome.

Since my last report to the Board, Iran and the Agency have held technical meetings on two separate occasions in Tehran to discuss the two outstanding practical measures agreed in May in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation. Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, nor has it proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for Cooperation, despite several requests from the Agency.

The Agency is ready to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues under the Framework for Cooperation. I call upon Iran to increase its cooperation with the Agency and to provide timely access to all relevant information, documentation, sites, material and personnel. Once the Agency has established an understanding of the whole picture concerning issues with possible military dimensions, I will present our assessment to the Board.

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.

Management Issues

Madam Chairperson,

Work is well underway on the Agency’s Programme and Budget for 2016-2017. We remain very conscious of the financial constraints in many Member States. Nevertheless, growing demands from Member States for Agency services might require a modest budget increase.

We will provide Member States with budget estimates and information on programme priorities early in the new year. In light of the recommendation of the Working Group on Financing the Agency’s Activities, and following the Chair’s consultations with Member States, I seek your endorsement to bring forward the date of the informal PBC meeting from February 9 to January 27, 2015.

Preparations are being finalised for the launch of the third phase of AIPS, the Agency’s enterprise resource planning system. Devoted to human resources and payroll, this is the largest and most complex of the project's four phases.  It will go live at the end of this year.

Madam Chairperson,

I wish to inform you that the Agency has been invited by the Austrian Government to attend the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons next month. We will be represented at the appropriate senior level.

Finally, a large number of senior Agency staff will be leaving us shortly.

They include Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, Mr Alexander Bychkov, and the following Directors: Mr Steven Giwa, Mr J K Park, Mr Valentin Mbarga, Mr James Lyons, Ms Gabi Voigt and Ms Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas. It is not possible to pay tribute to each of them individually now, but all have left their mark on the Agency. I thank all of our departing colleagues warmly for their loyalty and dedication and wish them every success in the future.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson.       

Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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