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Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressing the Agency's Board of Governors on 7 March, 2016. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr Chairman,

I will begin by congratulating Turkmenistan on becoming the 168th Member State of the IAEA.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Mr Chairman,

This week, we mark the fifth anniversary of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. On April 26th, it will be 30 years since the Chernobyl accident.

The immense human impact of these events should not be forgotten. In the case of Fukushima Daiichi, tens of thousands of people who were evacuated from their homes have still not been able to return.

As I said in my Report on that accident last year, I am confident that the legacy of Fukushima Daiichi will be a sharper focus on nuclear safety everywhere. There is widespread recognition that everything humanly possible must be done to ensure that no such accident ever happens again. This is all the more essential as global use of nuclear power is likely to continue to grow in the coming decades.  

The Nuclear Safety Review 2016 shows that progress continues to be made in strengthening nuclear safety. However, there can be no grounds for complacency about nuclear safety in any country.

Mr Chairman,

The General Conference last September urged all Member States that have not yet done so to become Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety. There are presently 78 Contracting Parties. The Convention’s peer review process provides an excellent forum for sharing experience among regulators and the nuclear industry, from which all parties benefit. I encourage all countries, especially those with nuclear power programmes, to become Contracting Parties to the CNS as soon as possible.

Next month, we will host the fourth International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems in Vienna. During the conference, we will mark the 10th anniversary of the IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS). This peer review service has made an important contribution to strengthening the effectiveness of national regulatory infrastructure for nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety. The Agency has so far conducted a total of 72 IRRS missions.

In May, the International Conference on Advancing the Global Implementation of Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Programmes will take place in Madrid. Issues will range from the dismantling of old fuel cycle facilities, research reactors and nuclear power plants, to dealing with former uranium mining sites and areas affected by accidents.   

In November, we will host the International Conference on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management in Vienna. Last year, the Agency provided training in radiation, transport and waste safety to nearly 2,200 people. I encourage Member States to adhere to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management and to participate fully in activities under the Convention.

Mr Chairman,

2016 will be an important year for nuclear security.

Entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material appears to be finally within reach, more than ten years after it was adopted. Adherence by 11 countries is needed for the Amendment to enter into force. I hope that this will happen as soon as possible.

Bringing the Amendment into force is the single most important step which the world can take to strengthen nuclear security. I again urge all Parties to the Convention to adhere to the Amendment.

In recent years, nuclear security summits have played an important role in drawing attention at the highest political level to this very important issue. At the end of this month, I will attend the fourth Nuclear Security Summit in Washington as an observer.  

The IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security in December will be a very important event which will help to set the agenda for our work in the next few years, underlining the Agency’s role as the global platform for improving nuclear security. I encourage all countries to be represented at ministerial level.

Nuclear Energy

Mr Chairman,

The Nuclear Technology Review 2016 provides an overview of global developments related to nuclear power.

As of today, there are 442 nuclear power reactors in operation. Another 66 are under construction, two-thirds of which are in Asia. Our annual technical meeting on nuclear infrastructure issues last month showed continued interest among what we call “newcomer” countries in introducing nuclear power. The Agency is assisting them in meeting challenges in nuclear infrastructure development.

The climate change agreement at the COP 21 event in Paris will have implications for the work of the Agency, in particular concerning the use of nuclear power. The IAEA can assist Member States with the pre-2020 actions necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Last month, I visited the Barakah site in the United Arab Emirates, where four nuclear power reactors are under construction. I am grateful to the UAE for hosting the next IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century in October 2017.

We continue to assist Member States in moving away from the use of high enriched uranium in research reactors and targets for medical isotope production, in favour of low enriched uranium. The Agency has recently assisted with the repatriation of HEU fuel from Jamaica and Georgia.

Assurance of Supply

Concerning the IAEA LEU Bank, we have continued to make good progress towards full-scale implementation since the signing of the Host State Agreement with Kazakhstan last year.

Kazakhstan has enacted a Law on the Use of Atomic Energy and an upgrade of the regulatory framework is being finalised. The facility operator is completing the design for the new building that will host the IAEA LEU Bank. Kazakhstan expects it to be licensed and completed by September 2017.

I will keep the Board informed of progress, including preparatory work on the process for acquiring LEU for the Bank.

Nuclear Applications

Mr Chairman,  

Turning now to nuclear applications, the Agency responded quickly to an outbreak of the Zika virus in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

We are providing portable equipment that will allow for rapid detection of the Zika virus in the field, and training our local partners in how to use it. The same nuclear-derived technology was made available by the Agency in 2014 to help countries in West Africa respond to the Ebola virus outbreak.

The Agency is also helping countries in Latin America which seek to deploy the sterile insect technique against the Aedes mosquito that can transmit the Zika virus and other pathogens. Last month, an international experts’ meeting in Brasilia focussed on the use of the technique as part of a comprehensive approach to controlling mosquito populations.

The Agency will facilitate the transfer of a gamma cell irradiator to Brazil to enable the country to scale up production of sterile male mosquitoes for release in pilot areas. The activities of the Agency are being planned, and carried out, in close coordination with the broader efforts of the international community, led by the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization.

You have before you a proposal for an off-cycle technical cooperation project, designed to enhance regional capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean to control mosquitoes that can spread human pathogens such as the Zika virus. The project will strengthen national and regional mechanisms for control of the Aedes mosquito population.

In addition, a set of activities has been developed to enhance the Agency’s capacity to provide support to technical cooperation projects involving the sterile insect technique for mosquitoes. I encourage Member States in a position to do so to contribute to the funding of these important initiatives.

Mr Chairman,

The IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf have for decades played a vital role in transferring nuclear technology to developing Member States.

As you know, the labs are more than 50 years old and in urgent need of renovation. This is being addressed under the ReNuAL project.

The Insect Pest Control Laboratory, in particular, has had great success in deploying the sterile insect technique to control a number of significant insect pests, with considerable benefits for Member States. Researchers at the lab are now focussing on Zika.

However, without full renovation of the laboratories, our capacity to respond to Member States’ requests for assistance, on Zika and in other areas, will be significantly limited. Some 6.5 million euros in extrabudgetary funds are still required to fund ReNuAL fully and to ensure that construction of the new Insect Pest Control Laboratory, and the Flexible Modular Laboratory, can begin on time.

The construction contract has been awarded and building work is scheduled to begin in June. However, we only have enough funds at the moment to start work on the Insect Pest Control Laboratory. If the remaining funds are not obtained by June at the latest, the start of the Flexible Modular Laboratory will be delayed. This will have negative cost implications for the whole project.

I appeal to all countries to contribute to ReNuAL and help ensure that this vital Agency project is a success. I thank all countries that have already made, or pledged, donations. And I am especially grateful to the Ambassadors of Germany and South Africa, and all members of the Friends of ReNuAL group, for their enthusiastic support.

The Government of Kuwait hosted the IAEA Symposium on Nuclear Applications for Sustainable Development in GCC Member States in February. This was the first such meeting in the region and an excellent forum for strengthening our partnerships in making nuclear applications available to advance national development goals. I thank the Government of Kuwait for its support.

This year’s Scientific Forum in September will be on the subject of Atoms for Peace and Development — how can nuclear techniques help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?

Technical Cooperation

Mr Chairman,

The Technical Cooperation programme remains the key mechanism for the delivery of IAEA services to Member States, including those delivered in response to emerging needs. I remind all Member States of the importance of contributing, on time and in full, to the Technical Cooperation Fund.

In light of Security Council resolution 2231, Iran is now invited to participate in the full range of Agency activities, including technical meetings, conferences, training courses and workshops.

Iran has a national TC programme for 2016−2017, as it did in previous biennia, and participates in relevant regional and interregional projects.

Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr Chairman,

You have received my first report on Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).

The Agency has found no indication of the diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities in Iran. Iran’s Additional Protocol has been provisionally implemented since January 16th, 2016.

The Agency was requested by both the Board of Governors and the Security Council to undertake verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, and to report to the Board and, in parallel, to the Security Council.

Implementation of the JCPOA has just started. Iran has to implement its commitments under the JCPOA for many years to come, and the Agency has to verify, monitor and report on its implementation.

I will continue to report in an objective and factual manner, including details which the Agency considers necessary to meet our responsibilities under Security Council Resolution 2231 and the Board resolution of December 2015.

I established a new Office of Safeguards Verification in Iran in the Department of Safeguards on March 1st.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols

I will now turn to issues under the Nuclear Verification agenda item.

Since my last report to the Board, Afghanistan has amended its small quantities protocol.

The number of States with safeguards agreements in force stands at 182, while 127 States have brought additional protocols into force. I ask non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT without comprehensive safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay. I hope that States which have not yet concluded additional protocols will do so as soon as possible. I also call on States with small quantities protocols based on the old standard text to amend or rescind them.

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

Mr Chairman,

The nuclear programme of the DPRK remains a major cause for concern. Recent statements by the DPRK are especially worrying.

As you know, the DPRK announced at the beginning of the year that it had carried out a new nuclear weapon test. Any such test represents a clear violation of Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable. Once again, I strongly urge the DPRK to implement fully all relevant Agency and Security Council resolutions. In its most recent resolution last week, the Security Council reaffirmed its decision that the DPRK “shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and immediately cease all related activities”.

The Agency remains ready to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue by resuming its verification activities once a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.

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

Mr Chairman,

I will now turn to a number of management issues.

I issued the Draft Budget Update for 2017 at the end of January. It proposes a real increase in relation to the additional costs of verification and monitoring activities in Iran.

I am grateful to countries that have already made, or pledged, contributions that will make it possible for us to carry out these activities in 2016. Voluntary contributions will continue to be needed for a prolonged period. However, it is essential that predictable, Regular Budget funding is made available for our long-term verification and monitoring work in Iran. As I stated in the Update document, we need a clear path for integrating the full amount of €5.2 million into the Regular Budget as soon as possible.

We have listened carefully to the comments made by Member States on the Budget Update and will shortly provide additional explanations and information to facilitate further discussion. I expect that Member States will continue informal discussions with a view to reaching an early agreement.

The first meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the preparation of the Medium Term Strategy 2018–2023 took place in February. The outcome of its work is expected to be submitted to the November Board. We will continue to provide all necessary support for the successful conclusion of this work.

I remain committed to expanding the opportunities available to women, who make an enormous contribution to the work of the Agency. I encourage Member States to actively help us achieve the goal of equal gender representation. Tomorrow, we will mark International Women’s Day with an event entitled Perspectives of Young Professionals: Gender in the Nuclear Field, immediately after the morning session, just outside the Board Room. I encourage all of you to participate.

This year, we will begin marking the Agency’s 60th anniversary. Starting in September at the 60th General Conference, a number of events will highlight the Agency’s significant contribution to international peace and development, past and present. The aim is to enhance the visibility of the Agency. Costs will be kept low.

I wish to inform the Board that Mr Khammar Mrabit, Director of the Division of Nuclear Security, will be leaving us shortly, after a long and distinguished career at the Agency, to take up an important position in his home country. I thank Khammar for his major contribution to the Agency’s nuclear security activities and wish him every success in the future.

Mr Chairman,

Last year was an exceptionally busy one for the Agency. We can take pride in significant achievements in all areas of our work.

This year is also likely to be very active. It will be important to maintain the momentum in addressing key challenges and to deliver concrete results. I know I can count on the support of Member States.  

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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