Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna Austria

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

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr Chairman,

I will begin by highlighting recent developments in technical cooperation and nuclear applications.

Technical Cooperation

The technical cooperation programme is our main delivery mechanism for making nuclear science and technology available to help improve the well-being and prosperity of the people of the world. We play a unique role in helping countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year, we have been providing emergency support to help countries respond to outbreaks of Zika virus disease.

Zika continues to spread and has now been confirmed in 70 countries. Latin America and the Caribbean have been especially hard hit, but countries as far apart as Singapore and Cape Verde have also reported cases.

The Agency has trained scientists from Member States in the use of the RT-PCR technique, which remains one of the most effective methods of rapid virus detection. We provided diagnostic equipment and materials to seven countries in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as to the Marshall Islands.

We have also made the RT-PCR technique available to help a number of European countries to respond to an outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease, which mainly affects cattle.  

This month, the Agency held a workshop in Kuala Lumpur that brought together scientists and public health experts from 34 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas to learn about use of the Sterile Insect Technique to suppress mosquito populations.

Food security remains a preoccupation for large areas of the globe. Significant success has been achieved in the development of new food crops which are adaptable to a changing climate. In Asia and the Pacific, an IAEA project on mutation breeding has resulted in the development of no fewer than 28 new crop varieties, which have already been released to farmers.

Allow me to draw your attention to a very important event next year – the International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme, which will take place in Vienna from May 30th to June 1st. I look forward to the active support and participation of all Member States.

Nuclear Applications

Mr Chairman,

As far as the modernisation of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories under the ReNuAL project is concerned, I am pleased that the funding target of 31 million Euros has been reached and that construction of the new Insect Pest Control Laboratory has now begun.

Construction of the Flexible Modular Laboratory will also start soon, once additional cost savings in the design have been realized. Member States will have an opportunity to visit the construction site during the General Conference.

A total of 64 Member States made contributions to ReNuAL. I am deeply grateful to all of them.

Efforts to secure global supplies of important radiopharmaceuticals which are essential for medical treatment continue. During my recent visit to Australia, I had an opportunity to visit the ANSTO nuclear medicine production facility, which is nearing completion. It will enable ANSTO to triple production of Molybdenum-99.

France's Jules Horowitz Reactor, which I visited this month, will also contribute to increased production of radiopharmaceuticals. It is expected to begin operation in 2021.

Nuclear Energy

Mr Chairman,

Turning now to nuclear energy, there are 450 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries today. Sixty reactors are under construction. There have been nine new grid connections so far this year. Construction has started at Unit 6 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China, while Unit 3 of the Ikata nuclear power plant in Japan has resumed operations.

Our latest projections for 2030 show nuclear power maintaining its contribution to the global energy mix at the present level, in the low scenario. In the high-growth scenario, use of nuclear power could grow by about 56%.

Asia remains the centre of expansion. A recent IAEA Conference on the Prospects for Nuclear Power in the Asia Pacific Region, organized with the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation, drew representatives from 14 Member States.  

Two forthcoming IAEA publications – Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2016 and Nuclear Power and Sustainable Development – highlight the advantages of nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source with significant potential to mitigate climate change.

It can assist Member States in meeting their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The Agency continues to assist what we call "newcomers" to nuclear power in establishing the necessary infrastructure.

A follow-up Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission to Poland found that recommendations made by our 2013 mission had been implemented. To improve our assistance to more advanced newcomers, the INIR Phase 3 methodology was finalized and presented to the United Arab Emirates, the first potential candidate for this support.

We will host two important conferences in Vienna in November: the Third International Conference on Nuclear Knowledge Management and the International Conference on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

Preparations are well underway for our Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, which will take place in Abu Dhabi from October 30th to November 1st 2017.

I was recently briefed by the Premier of South Australia on public consultations that are taking place on a recommendation by the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission to establish a geological storage and disposal facility for intermediate nuclear waste and spent fuel. We will follow this issue with interest.

Assurance of Supply

Mr Chairman,

Concerning the establishment of an IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan, construction of the new storage facility has begun and work is proceeding on schedule.

As I informed the Board in June, work to prepare for the acquisition of the LEU is underway. We have invited Member States to a workshop on LEU acquisition in Vienna next month.  

I will keep Member States informed of developments.

Nuclear Safety

Mr Chairman,

The Agency and our Member States have been very active in the past five years in strengthening nuclear safety and ensuring that the lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident are learned and acted upon.

My report on Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety provides an update on our work in these important areas in the year to June.

As you will recall, last year’s General Conference requested the Agency to continue to build upon the 2011 Action Plan on Nuclear Safety adopted after the accident.

As indicated in my report sub-titled Building on the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, the Agency will work to strengthen nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety in a more comprehensive manner. We will focus more on safety aspects of issues such as extending the operating life of nuclear power plants, decommissioning, the disposal of high level radioactive waste, innovative technologies such as fast reactors and small and medium sized reactors, and the safety of radiation sources used in non-power applications.

We will continue to strengthen IAEA safety standards, offer peer review and advisory services, and support education and training, including by improving our e-learning programmes.

Nuclear Security

As far as nuclear security is concerned, I strongly encourage all Member States to participate at ministerial level in the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Actions in Vienna from December 5th to 9th.

This conference is taking place at an important time for global nuclear security. It provides an opportunity for Member States to underline the importance which they attach to the Agency's role as the global platform for strengthening nuclear security. The outcome of the conference will also provide a solid basis for the Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2021, which we will develop in close consultation with Member States.

The Nuclear Security Report 2016 shows continued growth in the Agency's work in support of national and global efforts to prevent malicious acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material.

The entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material in May this year demonstrated the commitment of the international community to act together to strengthen nuclear security. Helping States to meet their new obligations under the Amendment will be a priority for the Agency in the coming years. I continue to encourage countries that have not yet done so to adhere to the Amendment.

Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr Chairman,

My report on Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) summarises the verification and monitoring activities that the Agency has conducted in the last few months.

Iran continues to implement its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Since my last report, Iran has submitted its declarations under the Additional Protocol, which it is applying provisionally, pending its entry into force. Iran’s declarations are being evaluated by the Agency.

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 for 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, Saint Kitts and Nevis has amended its small quantities protocol.

The number of States with safeguards agreements in force stands at 182, while 128 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,

The nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) earlier this month was deeply troubling and regrettable. This was its second such test this year and the fifth since 2006.

It was in clear violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.

Although Agency inspectors have not been in the DPRK since April 2009, we continue to monitor developments in the country's nuclear programme, in particular at the Yongbyon site, including through satellite imagery.

My latest report provides some details on developments at Yongbyon in the past year. We have observed indications consistent with the operation of the Experimental Nuclear Power Plant and of the Radiochemical Laboratory, as well as indications that the reported centrifuge enrichment facility is in use. There were also new construction and refurbishment activities on the site.

The Agency has maintained its readiness to return to the DPRK once a political agreement has been reached among the countries concerned, if requested to do so by the DPRK and subject to approval by the Board of Governors.

I strongly urge the DPRK to fully implement all relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA. The DPRK should cooperate promptly with the Agency and resolve all outstanding issues, including those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country.

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 2011 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 unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

As my report on Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East shows, there remain long-standing and fundamental differences of views among countries of the region with regard to the application of comprehensive Agency safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East. It has therefore not been possible to make further progress in fulfilling my mandate from the General Conference in this area.

I will continue my consultations on this issue with the parties concerned.

Management Issues

Mr Chairman,

Turning now to management issues, I am pleased that the June Board recommended the Budget Update for 2017 to the General Conference for approval.

In preparing the Agency's draft Programme and Budget for 2018-2019, we remain very conscious of the difficult global economic situation and the financial constraints that many Member States face. We will continue to pursue cost savings and efficiency gains in all areas, while striving to maintain the high level of service which Member States expect.

Demand for Agency activities and services will continue to grow because of the increasing use of nuclear technology in Member States and countries' growing adherence to important legal instruments on nuclear safety, security and safeguards. The implementation of Agency verification and monitoring activities in Iran related to the JCPOA will have an impact on our work for many years to come.

Member States have requested appropriate emphasis on activities related to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The priorities for the 2018-19 Budget will be technical cooperation, including PACT, follow-up to ReNuAL, nuclear safety and security, and verification and monitoring in Iran. Nuclear energy, as a statutory function of the Agency, will continue to be a priority.

Finally, Mr Chairman, let me remind you that formal celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the IAEA begin next week during the General Conference. A number of events and activities have been planned to highlight the Agency's significant contribution to global peace, security and development.

I hope you will join me in celebrating this very significant milestone.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.