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Remarks by Director General Yukiya Amano at New Year Reception

Vienna, Austria

(As prepared for delivery)

Dear friends and colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Happy New Year!

2018 was another productive year for the Agency. We faced challenges in many areas of our work. But thanks to the steadfast support of our Member States, we can take pride in many concrete achievements.

The nuclear programmes of Iran and the DPRK remain among the top items on the Agency’s agenda.

We continue to verify and monitor the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. As I have said many times, it is essential that Iran continues to fully implement those commitments.

As far as the nuclear programme of the DPRK is concerned, we remain ready to play an essential verification role if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.

The IAEA is the only international organization that can verify the nuclear programme of the DPRK.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to make some observations about the Agency’s work, including in nuclear verification generally.

The credibility of the Agency as a whole is our biggest asset. Independent, impartial and factual safeguards implementation is essential to maintain that credibility. If our credibility is thrown into question, and, in particular, if attempts are made to micro-manage or put pressure on the Agency in nuclear verification, that is counter-productive and extremely harmful.

For more than 60 years, the IAEA has made an important contribution to international peace and security by providing assurances that non-nuclear-weapon States are not developing nuclear weapons.

We use our considerable technical expertise to arrive at an independent assessment of all safeguards-relevant information available to us. We have a duty to protect confidential information, but when we have any concerns about a particular case, we report them to the Board of Governors for their consideration.

I have constantly reminded Member States and Agency staff that we are a technical, not a political, organization. We have refrained from getting involved in political issues.

For six decades, a clear division of responsibility between the Secretariat and Member States has been respected. Member States have had the political role of establishing the safeguards system. They trusted the Agency to implement safeguards independently, objectively and impartially. Let us all continue to respect the wisdom of that approach. The Agency’s independence must not be undermined. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Supporting the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology is core Agency business. It is just as important as nuclear verification. This is explicitly recognised in our Atoms for Peace and Development motto, to which we are firmly committed.

Our capacity for assisting countries through the technical cooperation programme has improved over the years, but more needs to be done – by the Agency itself and by Member States.

I believe we should be more assertive in reminding the world of the great benefits of nuclear applications in energy, health, agriculture, industry and other areas. The contribution which nuclear power can make to mitigating the impact of climate change deserves more recognition.

The next Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power will be held in autumn 2021. One country has formally notified us of its willingness to host that Conference, for which I am very grateful. If other countries are also interested, it would be helpful if they could inform us by this summer so that a timely decision can be made.  

As far as the IAEA LEU Bank in Kazakhstan is concerned, we expect to have the LEU delivered to the IAEA Storage Facility this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One of the highlights of 2018 was our first ever ministerial-level conference on nuclear science and technology in November. Participation exceeded expectations.

The Ministerial Declaration recognised the importance of science and technology for development. It welcomed the modernisation of our nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, which is one of the most important projects ever undertaken by the Agency.

As many of you have seen for yourselves, great progress has been made at Seibersdorf. I look forward to formally opening the new Linear Accelerator facility at the Dosimetry Laboratory in the coming months. 

I am very grateful to seven countries which responded to my urgent appeal in November for 3.75 million euros to equip the new facilities. Their pledges total more than 2.5 million euros.  I urge Member States in a position to do so to contribute towards the 1.25 million euros still needed to achieve our funding goal.  

We will soon begin detailed planning for the final phase of the Seibersdorf renovation, which involves the laboratories that will remain in existing buildings. I know I can count on your continued commitment to making our shared vision for the laboratories a reality. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cancer control in developing countries remains a high priority for the Agency.

Following our review of the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), a Coordination Group led by my office will take charge of our work to deliver a unified, one-house approach on cancer, starting next month. I will circulate a report before the March Board.

As we consider our cancer activities, let us not lose sight of the fact that our ultimate goal is to save lives – to ensure that the remarkable benefits of radiotherapy and nuclear medicine are made available to as many of our fellow human beings as possible.

The 2019 Scientific Forum in September will take stock of our contribution to cancer control in the last decade.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nuclear security is growing in importance as a priority issue for the Agency. We will soon finalize the process for nominating co-Chairs for the 2020 ministerial conference on nuclear security. A new nuclear security plan will be established by autumn 2020.

Preparations for the 2021 Conference of the Parties to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material are already underway.

I believe these events will help to shape the global nuclear security agenda for the coming years.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Strong management is essential for producing concrete results.

I work hard to ensure that the resources you entrust to us are used as effectively as possible. I count on you to ensure that we have the funding we need to maintain the high standards of service which you expect.

The Draft Programme and Budget 2020–2021 has been circulated. I remain very conscious of the financial constraints in many Member States and have instructed managers to seek maximum budget efficiencies. Nevertheless, growing demand from Member States for Agency services means that a modest increase in our Budget is necessary.

We are working on a more thorough application of the results-based management approach. Coordination is being strengthened and staff are being trained on applying results-based management from planning and implementing activities to monitoring and reporting on outcomes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Increasing the proportion of women on the Agency’s staff, especially at senior levels, remains a priority for me. Women now represent 30.3% of staff at P level and above, and 33% at DDG level. I will continue my efforts to increase women’s representation and aim to achieve gender parity among DDsG by 2021 or earlier.

A restructuring of our human resources activities has been completed, aimed at delivering a more efficient professional HR service to support the substantive work of the Departments.

The new Chief of Ethics and OIOS Director are now fully on board, working closely with MTHR and OLA. This is helping us to make significant progress in addressing harassment and wrongdoing, as well as promoting the highest ethical standards.

Following the successful launch of mandatory training on a respectful workplace for all staff last year, a new training programme for senior managers will start this year. As part of our efforts to promote a healthy work-life balance, more flexible working hours were introduced from this month.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2019 is likely to be another busy and eventful year for the IAEA.

Our objective is to promote peace and development through the use of nuclear science and technology. Strong management is essential for the Agency to continue delivering concrete results. I, for my part, remain fit for work and committed to discharging my responsibilities as Director General.

I know I can continue to count on your support, and on the dedication of the Agency’s excellent staff, in ensuring that we maintain the delivery of high-quality services for the benefit of all our Member States.

Thank you.


Last update: 25 Nov 2019

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