Statement by Director General Amano to the Seventieth Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York

Mr President,

Let me begin by expressing my horror at the appalling acts of terrorism in Paris last Friday, which took place within hours of the dreadful attacks in Beirut.

On behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency, I offer my sympathy and support to the governments and people of France and Lebanon.

Mr President,

The IAEA has had another eventful year since I last had the honour to address the General Assembly. There were important developments in relation to the Iran nuclear issue. I will talk about that in some detail in a moment.

First, let me say that I very much welcome the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by world leaders here at the General Assembly in September.

There are clear links between the new goals and the work of the IAEA. Areas covered by both include energy, food security and nutrition, human health, protection of the oceans and management of water resources, as well as climate change.

I am especially pleased that there is explicit recognition in the new goals of the importance of science and technology in advancing development. This is something which I have stressed in previous statements to the General Assembly. The Agency has so much to offer in this area that I often summarise our work as Atoms for Peace and Development.

I also welcome the inclusion of new goals concerning non-communicable diseases, including cancer, which is an important area of the IAEA’s work.

Mr President,

Since I last addressed this distinguished Assembly, the IAEA has continued to contribute effectively to the development needs of Member States by transferring nuclear technology through our technical cooperation programme.

We also demonstrated our ability to respond quickly to crises in Member States. After the earthquake in Nepal in April, the Agency helped the country’s authorities to test the structural safety of critical buildings such as hospitals and schools, using non-destructive testing techniques, including radiography.

Following the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, we provided equipment and diagnostic kits for the rapid identification of the virus. We have since helped countries of the region to build or strengthen their capacity to respond to possible future outbreaks of Ebola and other deadly diseases.

The IAEA Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy – PACT – assists Member States in integrating radiation medicine within comprehensive cancer control strategies. The IAEA has invested nearly 300 million euros in cancer and radiotherapy projects throughout the world in the last few decades.

Our work helps to save many lives. But the need for access to effective cancer treatment in developing countries remains great. The inclusion of targets for non-communicable diseases, including cancer, in the SDGs gives me hope that much more will be done to address this issue in the coming decades.

Mr President,

Preparations for a long-overdue renovation of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, are well underway.

The laboratories train scientists from all over the world, support research in human health, food and other areas, and provide analytical services to national laboratories. Almost all IAEA Member States receive support from them.  

The target date for completion of the first new lab – the Insect Pest Control Laboratory – is the end of 2017. Construction of the second lab will begin once sufficient extrabudgetary funding is available.

The laboratories are the engine of much of the technical support which we provide to Member States. They will provide an important part of the IAEA’s contribution to the achievement of the SDGs.

I thank countries that have already provided, or pledged, support for the modernisation project. And I call on all Member States in a position to do so to contribute generously.

This year’s IAEA Scientific Forum in September was entitled Atoms in Industry. Participants considered the key role which nuclear technologies play in areas ranging from the production of high-performance materials to the control of pollutants that cause disease.

Mr President,

At the end of this year, delegates from over 190 countries will meet in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Many countries believe nuclear power can help them to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear power has low environmental impact and leads to significant avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions. I believe that appropriate consideration should be given to nuclear power in talks on climate change mitigation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

There are now 441 nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries. Together, they provide about 11 per cent of the world’s electricity. There are 65 reactors under construction, mostly in Asia. The IAEA helps countries that choose to use nuclear power to do so safely, securely and sustainably.

Mr President,

In August, I signed a Host State Agreement and a related technical agreement with the Government of Kazakhstan establishing an IAEA Bank of low enriched uranium in that country.

The IAEA LEU Bank is a mechanism of last resort to give countries confidence that they will be able to obtain LEU to make fuel for nuclear power plants in case of an unforeseen disruption to supply that cannot be remedied by commercial means.

I am grateful to Kazakhstan for hosting the IAEA LEU Bank.

Mr President,

My report on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident was released in September, along with five technical volumes. I believe that this IAEA report will be the key reference document on the accident for years to come and will help to improve nuclear safety throughout the world.

Turning briefly to nuclear security, I am pleased to report that the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material has moved closer to entry into force. However, adherence by 13 countries is still necessary.

Entry into force of the Amendment would reduce both the likelihood of terrorists being able to detonate a dirty bomb and the risk of a terrorist attack on a nuclear installation. I ask all countries that have not yet done so to adhere to this important nuclear security instrument as a matter of urgency.

Mr President,

I will now turn to nuclear verification.

Safeguards agreements are now in force with 182 States. However, twelve non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons have yet to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency, as required by this Treaty. I urge all of them to conclude such agreements as soon as possible.

I am pleased to report that the number of States with additional protocols in force continues to rise. It now stands at 126. This is very encouraging because the additional protocol is essential for the Agency to be able to provide credible assurance that there are no undeclared nuclear material and activities in a country.

The nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains a matter of serious concern. The Agency remains unable to undertake verification in the DPRK and our knowledge of the country’s nuclear programme is therefore limited. Nevertheless, we have maintained our readiness to return to the DPRK if requested to do so.

I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations, to cooperate promptly with the Agency, and to resolve all outstanding issues, including those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country.

In the case of Syria, you may recall that, in May 2011, I reported that it was very likely that a building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency. The Agency has not received any new information that would affect that assessment.

I again urge Syria to cooperate fully with the Agency in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations.

Mr President,

As I mentioned, there have been important developments concerning the implementation of IAEA safeguards in Iran.

In July, Iran and the P5+1 countries agreed on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Security Council asked the IAEA to undertake verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, and our Board of Governors authorised us to do so.

Iran will implement the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. This is a powerful verification tool that will give the Agency greater access to information and to locations in Iran.

Iran also agreed to implement a number of additional transparency measures. These go beyond the scope of the additional protocol and will help the Agency to better understand Iran’s nuclear activities.

Also in July, I signed a Road-map with Iran for the clarification of possible military dimensions to the country’s nuclear programme by the end of this year. Activities set out in the Road-map were completed by the target date of October 15th.

We are now finalising our analysis of all of the information at our disposal. I will present my final assessment on all past and present outstanding issues to the IAEA Board of Governors by December 15th. My report will be factual, objective and impartial. Our Member States will determine the appropriate response.

Mr President,

Much work remains to be done, but I believe the significant progress made on the Iran nuclear issue represents a real success for diplomacy. It demonstrates that even complex and challenging issues can be tackled effectively if all parties are committed to dialogue – not dialogue for its own sake, but dialogue aimed at achieving results.

In the case of Iran, the sustained efforts of the IAEA, the P5+1 countries, the Security Council – and, of course, Iran itself – have got us to where we are today. The IAEA was able to make a vital contribution by sticking to its technical mandate and not straying into politics. 

The agreements reached in July represent a clear net gain for the IAEA from the verification point of view.

The Agency will continue to implement safeguards in Iran with a view to being able to draw what we call the “broader conclusion” – that all nuclear material remains in peaceful activities – in due course.

Mr President,

Many of our 166 Member States face financial difficulties which are likely to continue in the coming years. This means our budget will remain under pressure. The Agency will seek to maintain a balance between budgetary constraints and the increasing demand for our services from our growing membership. We will continue to prioritise and to seek efficiencies, while being careful not to undermine the high quality of our services to Member States.

We have intensified our efforts to increase the number of staff recruited from developing countries, or Member States which are un-represented or under-represented, especially at senior levels.

Good progress has been made in the representation of women in the IAEA Secretariat, but more needs to be done. I remain committed to expanding the opportunities available to women, who make an enormous contribution to the work of the Agency. I encourage Member States to actively help us achieve the ultimate goal of equal gender representation.

Mr President,

Despite our limited resources, the IAEA remains an organisation that delivers concrete results.

We will continue to fulfil our broad mandate in a balanced manner, working to improve the well-being and security of the people of the world through the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology.

Thank you, Mr President. 

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Last update: 9 March 2017