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Remarks at Opening of 6th Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management

Vienna, Austria

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivering his opening remarks at the meeting. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr President, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.

I welcome you all to this 6th Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

I welcome all Contracting Parties, as well as representatives from the Philippines and Lebanon – both signatories of the Convention – who will attend selected sessions as observers. I also welcome as observers the delegates from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has indicated interest in becoming a Contracting Party.  

The Joint Convention is a powerful instrument for strengthening the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste throughout the world, thanks not least to the peer review process that you will conduct in the next two weeks.

The Convention is the only international legally binding instrument in the field of safety of radioactive waste and spent fuel management. Its impact and reach have grown steadily. The first Review Meeting in 2003 was attended by 32 Contracting Parties. This time, almost all of our 78 Contracting Parties will be represented. This is very gratifying.

I encourage all Member States to become parties to both the Joint Convention and the Convention on Nuclear Safety. Wider participation in these Conventions strengthens global nuclear safety. Everyone benefits from the wider sharing of knowledge and experience.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The use of nuclear power looks set to grow in the coming decades. Many countries believe nuclear power can help them to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

At present, 450 nuclear power reactors are operational in 30 countries. Around 30 more countries are considering building their first nuclear power plants, or have started doing so.

All countries using nuclear technologies have a responsibility to establish and implement comprehensive radioactive waste management strategies, with disposal as their endpoint.

For decades, disposal programmes for lower level radioactive waste have been successfully implemented in many countries.

Good progress has also been made in the geological disposal of high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel declared as waste. I have seen impressive work to establish permanent geological facilities in Finland, Sweden, France and Belgium. Other countries have also made considerable progress in this area.

In Finland, a construction licence was granted in 2015 for geological disposal of high level nuclear waste. Several other countries are at, or near, the licensing stage.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, I thank Mr Bismark Tyobeka for agreeing to act as President of the 6th Review Cycle of the Joint Convention. I also thank the two Vice Presidents, Mr Doug Tonkay and Mr Geoff Williams, as well as Country Group officers.

I wish you a successful meeting and I look forward to learning about the outcome.

Thank you.

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