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Acting Director General's Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

Madam Chairperson,

Following the meeting of the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee this week, I will begin with technical cooperation issues.

Technical Cooperation

I thank Member States for their continuing strong support for the Agency's technical cooperation activities.

For the 2020–2021 TC cycle, 591 new projects have been proposed. All were developed in very close cooperation with the countries concerned and, where appropriate, they are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. We continue to seek opportunities for partnerships with other organizations in order to increase the impact and effectiveness of the TC programme.

The top three priority areas for Member States in the coming cycle are health and nutrition, food and agriculture, and nuclear safety and security. Our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy will focus on imPACT Review Missions, developing strategic documents on cancer control and raising resources for cancer-related activities.

We have received just under 76 million euros in contributions to the TCF, which represents a rate of attainment of 88.2%. I encourage all Member States to pay their contributions to the TCF in full and on time. I also invite Member States that are in a position to do so to make extrabudgetary contributions.

Madam Chairperson,

Let me mention a few examples of TC projects which are bringing important benefits to the countries concerned.

The Agency is working closely with Lesotho on its first cancer facility, which is due to open in 2024. Specialist medical staff are already undergoing training with our support. Nuclear safety experts from the Agency have provided guidance, highlighting the importance of protecting medical professionals and patients when providing radiotherapy services.

Namibia, working with the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, has enhanced existing seed varieties of cowpea and sorghum in its first ever plant breeding programme. New varieties were released in 2018 and seeds were multiplied for the 2019 cropping season. An innovative ‘drill and drop’ probe was introduced to measure the water intake of plants. Local experts analyse data collected by the probe and advise farmers by text message of the right time to irrigate. This is helping farmers to reduce the use of irrigation water by an estimated 30% to 40%.

In Asia and the Pacific, an ambitious project is providing secondary school teachers with tools and methods to teach young students about nuclear applications. The aim is to reach one million students and inspire a new generation of nuclear scientists and engineers.

Climate change is a major challenge for Small Island Developing States in Asia and the Pacific. Trainees from five of these nations met in Vienna in November to learn about crop mutation breeding, which will help them to develop new, more resilient plant varieties. This is expected to improve food security in countries involved and increase their exports.

In Europe, targeted training is helping to ensure that advanced radiotherapy techniques are used safely. Experienced specialists have learned how to perform risk analysis and teach colleagues about the importance of having the right safety procedures in place.

In Ecuador, IAEA support has enabled the country’s Water Secretariat to gather data on the quality, quantity and historical movement of water in the Zamora River, which has been affected by mining activities for many years. The Agency has provided equipment and training to help Ecuador to improve the conservation of the entire Zamora River Basin and the management of groundwater resources.

Nuclear Applications

Madam Chairperson,

As far as the modernisation of the nuclear applications laboratories at Seibersdorf is concerned, we now need less than 200,000 euros in order to achieve the overall budget target of 57.8 million euros. I hope that Member States in a position to do so might help us reach that target this year.

The new Insect Pest Control Laboratory and Linear Accelerator Facility are now operational and all other new facilities planned under the project will be delivered by the 2nd quarter of 2020.

The final major project element will involve the enhancement of the original lab building for the use of four laboratories. This will start after other laboratories transition to their new facilities in the second half of 2020. We are grateful for the great political and financial support which Member States have provided for this important project.

The Agency’s irradiated animal vaccine programme is generating high hopes for the poultry industry in a number of countries. In close collaboration with Austrian and Italian laboratories, the Agency has demonstrated, for the first time, the improved protection qualities of an irradiated vaccine prototype against avian influenza, in comparison with a vaccine prepared using traditional methods. This achievement opens the doors for the development of novel, safer and more efficient vaccines for major transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.

This year, the Agency has supported more than 600 analytical laboratories in over 70 countries in self-assessing the quality and reliability of their work in analysing radionuclides and trace elements in the environment. The results attracted considerable interest in Member States.

At the International Symposium on Trends in Radiopharmaceuticals, which finished on November 1st, over 450 professionals from 94 countries discussed cutting-edge advances in radiopharmaceuticals for improved diagnosis and more effective therapies for diseases such as cancer.

Nuclear Energy

Madam Chairperson,

There are 449 nuclear power reactors in operation today, supplying about 10% of the world’s electricity and a third of all low carbon electricity. Fifty-three nuclear power reactors are under construction.

Thirty countries have operating nuclear power reactors and around 30 more are interested in adding nuclear power to their energy mix. The Agency completed Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review missions to Ghana in October and Egypt in November. So far, 29 INIR missions have been conducted in 21 Member States. Missions are planned next year to Belarus, Kenya, Uganda and Uzbekistan.

In October, we held our first International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power. Participation exceeded expectations. The key message of the conference was that all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear power, are needed to decarbonize the energy sector and meet global climate goals. The Agency will reiterate this message in Madrid next month at the 25th session of the UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP 25.

In September, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) was designated as an IAEA International Centre based on Research Reactors, or ICERR. KAERI joins centres in Belgium, France, the Russian Federation and the United States in helping IAEA Member States to gain access to research reactors, a vital tool for nuclear education, research and development.

Assurance of Supply

I am pleased to report that the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Kazakhstan became operational in October when the first shipment of LEU was delivered. We expect to receive the second, and final, delivery by the end of the year.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Madam Chairperson,

I will now turn to nuclear safety and security.

Earlier this month, 225 delegates from 75 countries and five international organizations took part in the Agency’s fifth International Conference on Effective Nuclear and Radiation Regulatory Systems.

Participants highlighted the need to improve the management of capacity-building, safety-related research and development, the interface between safety and security and other regulatory issues.

I encourage all countries to participate in our International Conference on Research Reactors starting next week in Buenos Aires. It will address challenges and opportunities in ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of research reactor programmes.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Emergency Preparedness Review – EPREV – service. To date, 48 EPREV missions have been conducted in 42 countries. I encourage all Member States to invite EPREV and other IAEA peer review and advisory services.

The 2018 update of the widely used safety standard Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material is now available in all six official Agency languages.

Preparations continue for the next IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security in February 2020. I encourage all countries to participate at ministerial level. The fifth informal consultations on drafting the Ministerial Declaration took place last week. I thank the representatives of Panama and Romania for leading the preparatory process.

Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Madam Chairperson,

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

It includes updates provided to the Board since my previous quarterly report in relation to the installation of a number of more advanced types of centrifuge at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz, not only for R&D purposes but also to accumulate enriched uranium, and the resumption of uranium enrichment at Fordow.

On Monday this week, I provided a further update and informed the Board that Iran’s stock of heavy water had now exceeded 130 metric tonnes.

We will continue to update the Board as appropriate in relation to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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.

As I reported to the Board on November 7th, the Agency has detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the Agency.

We have continued our interactions with Iran since then, but have not received any additional information and the matter remains unresolved. A meeting between the Agency and Iran is scheduled next week in Tehran to discuss it further. It is essential that Iran works with the Agency to resolve this matter promptly.

I call upon Iran to provide full and timely cooperation with the Agency in implementing its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.


Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols

You have before you for approval a draft comprehensive safeguards agreement, small quantities protocol and additional protocol for Sao Tome and Principe.

Since the September Board, Benin has brought into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement, small quantities protocol and additional protocol. Ethiopia has signed and brought into force an additional protocol and Bolivia has signed an additional protocol.

The number of States with safeguards agreements in force stands at 184, while 136 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

Madam Chairperson,

The Agency continues to monitor the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, using open source information and satellite imagery.

We remain ready to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.

I again call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under 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.

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.

I renew my call on Syria to cooperate fully with the Agency in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations.

Management Issues

Madam Chairperson,

In response to the increased interest of Member States, I have issued our second report on multilingualism in the Agency. It explains our continued efforts to provide information in multiple languages, within available resources.

My report on the Implementation of Strategic Guidelines on Partnerships and Resource Mobilization is also before the Board. It details the ways in which we have implemented the Guidelines on forming new partnerships and exploring new sources of funding.

We are working on the draft 2021 Budget Update, as well as the progress report on the comprehensive review of the management of human resources, as requested by the Board.

Regarding the 2019 budget, we have had to use the Working Capital Fund to meet our needs since the end of October. I remind Member States of the importance of paying their assessed contributions to the Agency promptly and in full. I thank those Member States that have already made advance payments as part of their 2020 contributions.

I extend my best wishes to two senior colleagues who will be leaving us shortly – Mr David Osborn, Director of the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco, and Mr Yusuke Kuno, Director of the Office of Safeguards Analytical Services. I thank them both for their distinguished service and wish them every success in the future.

Finally, Madam Chairperson, I express my thanks to the Board for the confidence it placed in me as Acting Director General. It was a great honour to serve in this capacity. I was also deeply honoured to serve the Agency as Chief Coordinator for the past six years.

I wish Director General-elect Grossi every success in his term of office.

I also want to express my great respect and admiration for Agency staff at all levels. The professionalism, loyalty and dedication of our staff make the IAEA what it is: an organization of excellence.

Thank you.

Last update: 03 Dec 2019

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