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Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna Austria

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the Board of Governors meeting. (Photo: A. Nitzsche/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr Chairman,

Following the meeting of the TACC this week, I will begin with technical cooperation.  

Technical Cooperation

We are approaching the end of the first year of the 2016-2017 TC programme cycle and you have received our proposed programme for 2017. The largest field of activity is nuclear safety and security, followed by health and nutrition, and then by food and agriculture. Together, these account for 71% of the core programme budget for 2017. The delivery of the TC programme has progressed well this year and a broad range of activities have been implemented.

A regional project in Asia and the Pacific resulted in the recovery and safe conditioning of 700 disused sealed radioactive sources. It also improved the radioactive waste management infrastructure in participating Member States.

Nuclear technology is being used in Peru to improve the recovery and quality of life of patients with severe burns or lesions. With IAEA assistance, the Tissue Bank of the Peruvian National Children's Health Institute has begun processing tissue which is being used to treat burns victims.

In Benin, the Agency assisted with the establishment of a national network of laboratories to support the use of isotope techniques to improve soil fertility and crop productivity. As a result, maize yields increased by 50%. Some farmers who adopted new soil and water conservation practices for maize and yam-based crops saw a five-fold increase in their income.

I look forward to signing a Practical Arrangement soon between the IAEA and the African Union Commission on cooperation in areas including human health and nutrition, food and agriculture, and radiation and nuclear safety. It expands an existing Memorandum of Understanding on IAEA support for tsetse eradication in Africa.   

Preparations for the 2018–2019 TC programme are well underway. Project proposals have been submitted to the Agency and we are providing feedback to individual Member States. I continue to encourage the development of more focussed TC projects that will help countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr Chairman,

You have received my report on Addressing the Challenges Facing Least Developed Countries in the Peaceful Application of Nuclear Energy through the Technical Cooperation Programme. The report, which was requested by the General Conference, outlines the way in which we are working to address the special challenges faced by Least Developed Countries, particularly in human health and food and agriculture.

The first ever International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme will take place from May 30th to June 1st next year. The aim is to raise awareness of the achievements and potential of the TC programme and ensure greater recognition for our work on assisting sustainable development. I encourage all countries to participate actively.

The TC programme is essential for the transfer of nuclear technology to help countries meet their development challenges. It is the primary mechanism for the delivery of IAEA services to Member States. I remind all Member States of the importance of contributing on time and in full to the Technical Cooperation Fund.

Nuclear Applications

Mr Chairman,

The Agency continues to assist countries in the Western Hemisphere to respond to the outbreak of Zika virus disease. Our research into ways of further developing the sterile insect technique against the Aedes mosquitoes, which transmit Zika, has been intensified. 

Next week, I will visit Brazil, which has been seriously affected by the Zika virus. I look forward to learning more about the situation and about the impact of the assistance which we are providing.

I am grateful to Japan and the United States for their extra-budgetary contributions to strengthen mosquito SIT research and development capacity at the Insect Pest Control Laboratory in Seibersdorf. These funds are being used to recruit medical entomologists and technicians, and to expand the space and infrastructure for the mass-rearing of different mosquito strains.

The Agency’s swift response to Mediterranean fruit fly infestation in the Dominican Republic in 2015 has helped the country to regain access to the key U.S. export market. Our contribution included releasing over 50 million sterile males per week over affected areas. As a result, the pest was confined to the eastern part of the island and the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service lifted a ban on imports of fruit and vegetables from 23 of the Dominican Republic’s 30 provinces.

The Agency is an active partner in the United Nations Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control, which is due to carry out its first mission – to Morocco – later this month. The aim is to reduce cervical cancer mortality in participating countries by 25% by 2025. The Agency’s role in this important global programme is to improve access to radiation therapy.

The IAEA International Conference on Integrated Medical Imaging in Cardiovascular Diseases, held in Vienna last month, highlighted the importance of addressing cardiovascular diseases as part of efforts to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one third by 2030. This global target was agreed by world leaders under the Sustainable Development Goals.

As far as the ReNuAL project is concerned, the foundations of the new Insect Pest Control Laboratory have been completed and work has started on the building itself. Construction of the foundations of the Flexible Modular Laboratory will begin in December. We will inform Member States about future funding needs early next year.

Nuclear Energy

Mr Chairman,

Turning now to nuclear energy, there are 450 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries today and 60 reactors are under construction. There have been ten new grid connections so far this year, two construction starts and one permanent shutdown.

Nuclear power, which produces steady baseload electricity while emitting very low levels of greenhouse gases, has already made a significant contribution to avoiding carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear power and renewable energy sources complement each other.

The Agency is participating in side events at the UN Climate Change Conference COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco, this month. In addition to highlighting the benefits of nuclear power in relation to climate change, Agency experts will explain the support which we provide to Member States in using nuclear and isotopic techniques to tackle serious environmental challenges such as soil erosion, pollution and deteriorating water quality. They will also explain how our energy planning tools can help Member States to prepare their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

As part of our assistance to countries that are considering introducing nuclear power, we completed Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions to Malaysia and Kazakhstan. As usual, we encourage countries receiving peer reviews, including INIR missions, to make the results public.

The IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century will take place in Abu Dhabi from October 30th to November 1st 2017.

Assurance of Supply

Mr Chairman,     

Construction of the IAEA LEU Bank storage facility in Kazakhstan is proceeding on schedule.

Last month, we held a workshop on LEU acquisition, open to all Member States, which started the procurement process. We are revising the procurement plan and will inform Member States early next year. The LEU procurement process will be open, transparent and fair, in accordance with the Agency’s normal procurement process and United Nations standards.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Mr Chairman,

Turning now to nuclear safety, we have begun work on the Nuclear Safety Review 2017, which will be presented to the March Board. It will reflect lessons learned from experience in nuclear safety and identify priorities for our work to strengthen safety, as requested by the General Conference. 

The IAEA International Conference on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management from November 21st to 25th will focus on the importance of an integrated long-term approach to the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. It will help us to better understand Member States’ needs so we can assist them in safely managing their entire radioactive waste inventory.

The Agency launched the second phase of the MODARIA II programme on the radiological impact of radionuclides in the environment with a technical meeting that finished earlier this month. The aim is to help countries to use environmental modelling to protect the public and the environment from the effects of ionizing radiation associated with radionuclide releases.  

Mr Chairman,

Following the entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, we will host a meeting of representatives of States Parties to the CPPNM from November 30th to December 2nd. The aim is to improve mechanisms for sharing information and to encourage all countries to adhere to the Amendment. The Agency can assist countries in fulfilling their new responsibilities under the Amendment.

Preparations for the International Conference on Nuclear Security are in their final stages. It will take place in Vienna from December 5th to 9th. High-level participation in this Conference will help to maintain the political momentum and to set a strong agenda for nuclear security in the coming years. I also expect it to provide a solid basis for the IAEA Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2021, which will be developed in close consultation with Member States.

I strongly encourage all countries to be represented at ministerial level.

Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr Chairman,

As my report on Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 shows, the Agency continues to verify and monitor Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

For the second time since implementation of the JCPOA began, Iran’s inventory of heavy water exceeded 130 metric tonnes. Iran has since made preparations to transfer a quantity of heavy water out of the country, under the verification and monitoring of the Agency. Once it has been transferred, Iran’s stock of heavy water will be below 130 metric tonnes. It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence in the implementation of the JCPOA, which represents a clear gain for nuclear verification in Iran.

Iran continues to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement, pending its entry into force. The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols

Mr Chairman,

I will now turn to nuclear verification.

Since my last report to the Board, Cameroon has brought an additional protocol into force.

The number of States with safeguards agreements in force stands at 182, while 129 States have brought additional protocols into force. I ask States Parties 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,

I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which has conducted two more nuclear tests this year.

I again call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, 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 maintains its readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme. 

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic

As far as safeguards implementation in the Syrian Arab Republic is concerned, our assessment remains that it was very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site in 2007 was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared to the Agency by Syria under its Safeguards Agreement.

The Agency is still unable to provide any assessment concerning the nature or operational status of three other locations.

I continue to urge Syria to cooperate fully with the Agency in connection with all unresolved issues.

Management Issues

Mr Chairman,

Work is well underway on the Agency’s Programme and Budget for 2018-2019. We remain very conscious of the continued financial constraints in many Member States. Nevertheless, new and growing demand from Member States for Agency services will require a modest increase in our Budget. We aim to circulate the entire draft programme and budget document – the so-called White Book – at the end of January, so that Member States can begin their consultations.

Preparations are being finalised for the launch of the fourth and final phase of AIPS, our enterprise resource planning system. This phase covers travel and meetings. Member States have been informed about improvements to the In Touch portal so that they can be implemented smoothly.

The Medium Term Strategy for 2018-2023 is before the Board. It was prepared following a thorough consultation process with, and among, Member States. I congratulate the Chair of the Open-ended Working Group, Ambassador Hasans of Latvia, and his team for their sterling work to produce this important document.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.