I am pleased to send my greetings to the fifty-first session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is a fitting occasion for representatives of its 144 Member States to reflect on the Agency's activities over the past five decades, and to consider the challenges ahead.
The activities of the IAEA are more important than ever to advance safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, promote non-proliferation and disarmament, and reduce the risks of nuclear terrorism.
Access to reliable and affordable sources of energy is essential for development. The growth in demand for energy will likely be highest in developing countries, several of which may turn to nuclear power to help meet this need. Yet concerns over dependency on foreign sources of supply continue to inhibit wider use of this technology. In response, the IAEA has long been a central forum for exploring multilateral frameworks for assuring supplies of nuclear fuel for peaceful uses, while promoting other such uses outside the energy sector.
Reaping these benefits, however, requires new levels of international cooperation in addressing security and environmental challenges, especially from spent fuel and waste management, both very familiar subjects at the IAEA.
In addition, the Agency is also facing many challenges relating to nuclear weapons. Future progress in disarmament may eventually lead to new roles for the IAEA, especially in the disposition of nuclear weapons materials. With respect to non-proliferation, the IAEA is continuing its engagement with Iran and is once again implementing certain safeguards activities in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea. The Agency is promoting the Additional Protocol to strengthen safeguards, seeking greater transparency in export controls, and working to strengthen the physical security of nuclear material, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism.
As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I look forward to working together with you in meeting the challenges ahead. We must redouble our efforts to revitalize the international disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, and rid the world of nuclear weapons. I am confident that your deliberations and decisions will help us reach that objective.
In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful and productive conference.