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Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

Programme and Budget

I welcome the agreement that has been reached by the Board on the budget and the associated ‘package’ of related issues. This is the first budget — after a decade and a half of a preset financial ceiling — that is based on real needs and provides the Secretariat with the increased resources required to implement an expanding programme. I am grateful for your understanding and support.

The budget that has been agreed responds, in my view, in a balanced manner to the priorities of the Agency in both the regulatory and developmental fields. The bulk of the increase goes to the verification programme, because that programme has been experiencing the greatest demand for additional resources and, as I have stated many times, has for years been the most chronically underfunded and has relied excessively on extrabudgetary resources, with all the negative consequences of such reliance in terms of independence, planning and staffing. Even with the agreed budget, the Agency’s reliance on such resources will remain in my view unacceptably high, especially in the safeguards, safety and security areas. I hope that over time this will be corrected so that all core programme activities of the Agency can be incorporated into the regular budget. The budget you have just recommended is a step in the right direction.

I am aware that your consultations have not been easy. This is somewhat understandable. Different Member States naturally have different needs and priorities. I am particularly pleased, therefore, to see that consensus in the end has been achieved. This has always been the hallmark of this Agency and, in my view, it is the only way to maintain the ability of the Agency to perform its essential functions and deal effectively with the increasing challenges facing it.

As always, the Secretariat and I are committed to achieving efficiency and effectiveness in all areas and to keeping our operations under continuing review. As you know, for example, I have recently initiated an evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the safeguards programme, to be undertaken by independent external evaluators under the auspices of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. I will also ask the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation to undertake a specific technical review of the safeguards criteria. Naturally, I will keep you informed of the outcome, but I am sure you agree with me that the primary driving force in our verification work must always be effectiveness and objectivity; and that the continuing search for further efficiencies, while important, cannot be allowed to lower our standards or undermine our impartiality, particularly at a time when the non-proliferation regime is experiencing growing stress, and when vigilance is crucial.

Another, internal, review is currently under way by the Office of Internal Oversight Services to examine the process of managing the technical co-operation programme, including human resource requirements.

Let me now take this opportunity to report on some recent developments of particular importance.

Iraq

My reports to the Board (GOV/2003/46) and to the Security Council provide an account of our recent verification mission to Iraq. Our request for this mission was triggered by persistent media reports of looting. The mission was confined to verification of material subject to safeguards at Location C Nuclear Storage Facility near Tuwaitha, where the looting had reportedly taken place. The reports note that at least 10 kg of uranium compounds could have been dispersed. While fortunately neither the quantity nor the type of material involved would be sensitive from a proliferation point of view, I have called upon the Authority to ensure the physical protection of the entire nuclear inventory in Iraq and to make every effort to recover, where possible, the looted material and place it under Agency safeguards.

I should note that the Authority has informed the Agency that it would assume responsibility for nuclear safety. The Agency mission therefore did not look into possible safety and health effects of the looting of nuclear material or radioactive sources. In view of recurrent media reports on the subject, I trust that the Authority will monitor any impact on the safety and health of the surrounding population and will share its findings with the Agency. Naturally, the Agency stands ready to provide any assistance required.

Our mission was conducted in connection with the safeguards agreement between Iraq and the IAEA pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Although the Agency’s mandate in Iraq under various Security Council resolutions still stands, the Council we are awaiting such a review. Nonetheless, I should emphasize that, irrespective of our mandate under Security Council resolutions, we have the continuing obligation under Iraq’s NPT safeguards agreement with the Agency to ensure that, in accordance with that agreement, Iraq does not have any proscribed nuclear material or activities.

Islamic Republic of Iran

I have just returned from a visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran at the invitation of the Iranian Government, during which I met with the President of Iran and other senior officials. In all my meetings, I impressed on the Iranian authorities once again the need to clarify without delay outstanding safeguards issues (as noted in my report to the June Board — GOV/2003/40) and to co-operate fully and in a transparent manner with the Agency. I also urged the Iranian authorities, as I do all parties to comprehensive safeguards agreements, to sign an Additional Protocol that would enable the Agency to conduct the in-depth and comprehensive verification that could generate, particularly in a country like Iran with extensive nuclear activities, the required assurances.

In conjunction with my visit, a technical meeting took place between our senior safeguards staff and Iranian counterparts. During that meeting, some of the outstanding issues were discussed and the Agency proposed to the Iranian counterparts the timetable and the actions to be taken to resolve the remaining issues. We are awaiting the Iranian response, which is expected shortly. During my visit, Iran also requested that an Agency team visit Tehran to clarify certain aspects of the Additional Protocol; this mission is expected to take place in the next few weeks.

I shall be reporting on our verification activities in Iran to the Board in September and hope that substantial progress in clarifying many of the outstanding issues will by then have been made.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

I am sure you are aware of the latest media report from the DPRK about its reprocessing of the fuel rods that were under safeguards — a report which comes on the heels of many other disturbing reports. In my view, the situation in the DPRK is currently the most immediate and most serious threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. And I find it regrettable that little concrete progress on the issue appears to have been made since December, when the Agency’s verification work came to a halt. I earnestly hope that the international community will urgently focus its efforts on bringing the DPRK back to the non-proliferation regime. In this regard, I am encouraged by some recent efforts on the part of China to restart a dialogue towards that end.

The Secretariat and I remain committed to continuing to work with all concerned parties to help achieve a comprehensive solution to this problem.

Finally, I might note that until the status of the DPRK under the NPT has been clarified, the application of safeguards under the DPRK’s INFCIRC/66 safeguards agreement will continue to be suspended.

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Last update: 26 Nov 2019

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