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Statement at 30th Anniversary of Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear

Madrid Spain
30th Anniversary of Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear

Madrid, Spain

Mr. President of the Senate, Mr. Vice President of the European Commission, Madam President of the Consejo De Seguridad (CSN), Mr. Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend this celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Consejo de Securitas and to see so many friendly and familiar faces.

As an experienced user of nuclear energy, Spain is a very active member of the IAEA and participates fully in all areas of our work. Numerous Spanish experts take part in IAEA peer review missions which examine countries´ nuclear infrastructure or safety regimes. Spain generously supports the IAEA´s technical cooperation programme, which helps to make the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology available to developing countries. Spain also shares its experience and expertise in areas such as plant decommissioning and radioactive waste management by participating actively in Agency programmes.

This is an exciting time for nuclear power. As you are well aware, more than 60 countries are interested in exploring nuclear energy. The IAEA´s latest projections are that between 10 and 25 new countries are likely to bring their first reactors on line by 2030. In addition, many countries which already have nuclear power have ambitious expansion plans. Between 230 and 480 new power reactors will come on line by 2030.

Nuclear power is accepted by an increasing number of countries as a stable, safe and clean source of energy.

The growing attractiveness of nuclear power is due to a number of factors. They include its strong performance and safety records, now totalling more than 14,000 reactor-years; nuclear power´s very low greenhouse gas emissions; surging global energy demand; and concern about energy security.

The decision on whether to use or not to use nuclear power lies with each sovereign State, but the IAEA now devotes much effort to assisting countries upon their request. Our role is to provide objective, comparative information and advice to interested Member States. We help countries to analyse their options and to choose the best energy mix. Once a country has made the decision to introduce nuclear power, the IAEA helps to ensure that this is done safely, securely and exclusively for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA has developed guidelines and milestones to help countries work in an effective and integrated manner towards the introduction of nuclear power. These are also of benefit to countries with established nuclear power programmes which are considering extending the life of existing nuclear power plants or expanding nuclear power generation. A methodology has been developed for countries to perform a self-assessment that helps them determine where they are in the process of introducing nuclear power. Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions, conducted by experts from the IAEA and from countries with established nuclear power programmes, are an important part of this process.

Nuclear safety and security are primarily the responsibility of each sovereign country.

But the potentially far-reaching cross border consequences of accidents or malicious acts have led to a recognition that strong international arrangements are also necessary.

The promise of nuclear power can only be realized with a strong commitment to nuclear safety and security for the lifetime of the programme.

The IAEA is at the heart of the global nuclear safety regime and nuclear security framework. The Agency´s Safety Standards, which date back more than 50 years, have become the global benchmark. Nuclear safety has improved significantly since the shock of Chernobyl in 1986, but the risk of accidents can never be eliminated completely. We must always be vigilant and avoid complacency.

Earlier this year, I had the honour of attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, chaired by President Obama. Leaders from 47 countries participated. It was encouraging to see top-level attention being given to preventing nuclear and radioactive material from falling into the hands of terrorists and guarding nuclear facilities against sabotage. It was also gratifying to see the widespread recognition of the Agency´s important work in this field.

Responsibility for nuclear security rests with each state, as I mentioned, but the IAEA can assist countries in many ways. For example, we have worked with the South African authorities to help guard against possible nuclear attacks at the World Cup.

Recent IAEA initiatives include efforts to create a systematic framework for continuous improvements in capacity-building in nuclear safety and security, and the creation of a new Regulatory Coordination Forum, to improve coordination between Member States requesting regulatory support and those able to provide it.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have concentrated my brief remarks on the nuclear energy field, which I know is of special interest to this audience. But, of course, the IAEA´s mandate goes well beyond nuclear energy alone. As you may know, we devote much attention to other peaceful nuclear applications in areas such as human health, food and agriculture and protecting water resources. For my first year as Director General, I chose to focus in particular on cancer control in developing countries. Cancer is increasingly treatable in developed countries such as Spain, but many developing countries lack the equipment and human resources to respond effectively to the growing epidemic of this terrible disease.

Nuclear medicine and radiotherapy are very effective in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and the IAEA has expertise in this field. This is why the Agency is working with partners such as the WHO to provide equipment and training to countries which need to boost their cancer control capability.

Against this background, cancer control in developing countries will be the subject of our Scientific Forum during the IAEA General Conference in September.

Let me now turn to the work of the CSN, in whose honour we have come together today.

The CSN is recognized worldwide as a mature and effective regulatory body. In the past 30 years, it has established excellent cooperation with other national regulatory bodies throughout the world and with the relevant international organizations, including the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency. Spain hosted an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission in 2007 and 2008. The IRRS team identified numerous good practices in Spain´s nuclear programme, including a comprehensive legal and regulatory infrastructure, highly capable professional staff and a commitment to transparency.

The CSN has been active in helping to establish global nuclear safety standards and security guidance. In the last five years, dozens of CSN experts have participated in missions which have led to improvements in nuclear safety in 79 countries. The CSN has also made a significant contribution, through IAEA programmes, to helping other countries to establish and enhance their regulatory infrastructure.

In 1997, the CSN took the initiative to launch, in cooperation with the IAEA, the Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies (FORO). Today, the FORO has a full technical programme, with projects addressing issues such as the licensing of the life extension of nuclear power plants, risk analysis in radiotherapy, patient protection and the control of radioactive sources in scrap metal. This initiative, for which Spain contributed significant funding, has undoubtedly helped to improve nuclear safety and security in the countries concerned. The CSN has also supported the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa, established last year, as well as the knowledge network of the Arab Network of Nuclear Regulators created early this year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to conclude by congratulating the CSN on 30 years of highly effective work. I am grateful to the CSN and the Spanish government for their generosity in sharing their experience of more than 40 years of peaceful use of nuclear energy with other countries, and for their active support for the IAEA. I look forward to our continued cooperation in the coming decades.

Thank you.


Last update: 26 July 2017