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Statement to the Fiftieth Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference 2006

Vienna, Austria

18 September 2006 | Vienna, Austria

Anniversaries are a time of reflection and renewal. There is much to be learned by looking back on the 50-year history of Atoms for Peace in its many applications - from the days of the first power reactor operations, safeguards inspections, safety guidance and transfer of nuclear technology, all the way to our programme today.

In celebrating our 50th anniversary, our goal is to broaden awareness of the scope of the Agency´s mission and activities - our contributions to development, nuclear safety and security, and nuclear non-proliferation - and to provide forums to review the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Nuclear Power Technology

Changes in Nuclear Power
For the past five decades, the role of nuclear power has been shaped by many factors such as growing energy needs, economic performance, the availability of other energy sources, the quest for energy independence, environmental factors, nuclear safety and proliferation concerns, and advances in nuclear technology.

In the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, the continued viability of nuclear power was viewed with skepticism for almost two decades. But recently we have seen rising expectations regarding the role of nuclear power. The rapid growth in global energy demand is putting a premium on all energy sources. Climate change concerns have highlighted the advantages of nuclear power in terms of its minimal greenhouse gas emissions. And the sustained nuclear safety and productivity record over the past twenty years has made nuclear operating costs relatively low and stable.

There are currently 442 nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries. They total about 370 gigawatts of generating capacity, and they supply about 16 per cent of the world´s electricity. This percentage has been roughly stable since 1986, indicating that nuclear power has grown at about the same rate as total global electricity for the past 20 years.

To date, the use of nuclear power has been concentrated in industrialized countries. In terms of new construction, however, the pattern is different. Of the 28 new reactors under construction, 16 are in developing countries. And while the highest percentage of existing reactors is in North America and Western Europe, recent expansion has been concentrated in Asia and Eastern Europe.

China, India and the Russian Federation currently have the most ambitious plans for near-term nuclear expansion. As I mentioned last year, Russia intends to double its nuclear generating capacity by 2020; China plans a more than five-fold expansion in capacity by the same date; and India anticipates an eight-fold increase by 2022. But they are not alone. Finland is building a new reactor, and France also plans to begin construction of a new reactor next year. These are the first new nuclear plants to be constructed in Western Europe since 1991. South Africa also intends to start construction next year of a small modular reactor. Argentina last month decided to restart construction of its third nuclear plant. In the United States of America, energy companies and consortia have announced plans to submit applications for construction and operating licences for at least 15 new reactors over the next two years.

These are some of the new construction plans for countries with established nuclear power programmes. But several other countries, such as Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam, are also seriously planning for the introduction of nuclear power.

Energy for Development and Global Energy Security
Last year before you I expressed my belief that the Agency should focus more explicitly on "energy for development" - since without energy there can be no development. The energy shortage in developing countries is a staggering impediment to development and to efforts to eradicate poverty. To lend perspective: the countries of the OECD, on average, consume electricity at a rate roughly 100 times that of the world´s least developed countries.

In that regard, I was pleased that the expanded G8 Summit in St. Petersburg this summer emphasized the importance of "global energy security". During my participation there, I emphasized that, in my view, global energy security means fulfilling the energy needs of all countries. Approximately 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity, and 2.4 billion continue to rely on traditional biomass, because they have no access to modern fuels.

The current global organization of energy resource management and distribution is fragmented - in terms of both geographical coverage and the types of energy resources managed. Global structures for setting norms, oversight and monitoring exist in many other key sectors - such as the World Trade Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization or the Bretton Woods institutions overseeing finance. However, no similar global structure currently exists for energy overall.

At the expanded G8 summit, I raised the question of whether consideration should be given to the development of a global energy framework and an associated international energy organization. Such a framework and organization would be designed to address key questions and challenges. What are our current and expected energy needs - globally, regionally, and in particular in developing countries - and how can we best address them? What are the primary global concerns related to energy security? What priority areas of R&D should be coordinated globally to address these challenges? How might we ensure transparent, open and functioning competitive markets to address the needs of both producers and consumers? How can developing countries build the capacity - and secure the financing - to meet their energy needs?

As a sophisticated technology, nuclear power requires a correspondingly sophisticated infrastructure. For new countries considering nuclear power, it is essential to ensure that the necessary infrastructure will be available. "Infrastructure" includes many components - from industrial infrastructure such as manufacturing facilities, to the legal and regulatory framework, to the institutional measures to ensure safety and security, to the necessary human and financial resources. The Agency recently published guidance on the infrastructure needed for countries to introduce nuclear power. We are working to define a set of milestones for the development of this infrastructure, which will assist us in prioritizing our support for those Member States.

It is clear that nuclear energy might not be the choice of all countries - and some, such as Germany and Sweden, have decided to phase out their nuclear power programmes. Other countries have also adopted a policy against the use of nuclear power. However, for those Member States that choose to use nuclear power, there is much the Agency can do to make this option accessible, affordable, safe and secure.

Rising expectations for nuclear power also focus attention on uranium resources. The spot price for uranium has risen more than five-fold during the last few years. The global identified uranium resources are large and enough for 85 years of consumption at the 2004 rate of electricity generation, according to the Red Book that the Agency publishes jointly with the OECD/NEA. But the uranium has to be made available, which will require increased activities in exploration, mining and milling. During the last year we have seen substantial increases in exploration and development activities to match projected future demand. The Agency assists a number of Member States in uranium exploration and development.

Advances in Nuclear Innovation
Technological and institutional innovation is a key factor in ensuring the long term sustainability of nuclear power. The Agency´s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) has grown to include 27 members. The INPRO objective is to support innovation to develop nuclear reactors and fuel cycles with, inter alia, inherent safety, proliferation resistance and minimal waste production. INPRO addresses issues faced by all countries that choose nuclear power, including challenges facing new users such as high up-front investment costs and extensive infrastructure needs. In Phase One of INPRO, a methodology for evaluation of innovative nuclear systems was developed. Six assessments are ongoing that apply this methodology to innovative nuclear designs, and several other assessments are starting.

The INPRO Steering Committee recently decided to begin Phase Two, which will, inter alia, focus on innovative approaches to infrastructure and institutional development for countries beginning nuclear power programmes, as well as on the development of collaborative projects. INPRO will also continue to work closely with the Generation IV International Forum - a cooperative international initiative working on innovative reactor technologies.

Through information exchange and Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs), the Agency is also assisting other innovative R&D efforts, on topics that include: enhanced passive safety systems; small reactors without onsite refuelling; partitioning and transmutation to reduce long lived nuclides in nuclear waste; proliferation resistant approaches to plutonium production; and non-electric applications of nuclear power.

At a meeting in May, an agreement was initialled by China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA to build the world´s largest fusion facility - ITER - in Cadarache, France. This decision signals an important new stage in the development of fusion energy - the scientific and engineering demonstration of fusion technology in conditions relevant to operating a fusion reactor for power production. The IAEA is the depository of ITER related agreements. While it is likely to be many years before fusion technology can be harnessed as a viable source of energy, it would bring tremendous advantages - given that fusion uses a relatively abundant fuel source, produces only minimal amounts of long lived radioactive waste, and is based on a nuclear reaction that is inherently safe.

Plant Life Management and Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities
With more nuclear power plants receiving licence extensions, greater attention is being placed on plant life management. Agency assistance is increasingly being requested in areas such as using risk assessment to predict component degradation and using reliability analysis to manage maintenance schedules.

We are also receiving more requests for assistance with decommissioning projects. The Agency is currently providing such assistance to 12 Member States, in addition to two regional projects. In the USA, three nuclear power plants have been fully decommissioned in the last two years, and considerable progress has been made at other nuclear sites in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Addressing Waste and Fuel Cycle Issues
The safe and effective management and disposal of radioactive waste is also key to the sustainable use of nuclear power. Over the past year, a number of Member States have begun construction of new disposal facilities for low and intermediate level waste. Finland, Sweden and the USA are continuing to develop geological repositories, with the intent to have the first facilities in operation before 2020. The operation of these facilities will be an important milestone in building public confidence regarding the ability to safely dispose of high level radioactive waste.

In many countries, the trend is continuing towards long term spent fuel storage time - with consideration of extensions of storage to 100 years or longer. As a result, there is an ongoing focus on the development of more advanced storage technologies and sustainable institutional frameworks.

Nuclear Knowledge Management
Over the past four years, knowledge management has become a focus in the nuclear community. The Agency´s knowledge management activities are centred on three areas. First, we publish guidance and conduct training to assist Member States in nuclear knowledge management. Specific assistance - such as that recently provided in expert missions to Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia - concentrates on helping nuclear plant operators with the retention of essential knowledge as the workforce ages and retires. Second, we support Member State efforts to sustain nuclear education and training. This involves the promotion of networking among educational institutions with nuclear programmes, as well as supporting the development of reference curricula. And third, we are supporting efforts to archive existing nuclear scientific studies and related data and documents, and to provide better access to this knowledge. An International Nuclear Library Network has been established, and we have developed a new Internet portal - Nucleus - that will integrate under a single access point all the Agency´s information resources on nuclear science and technology.

Nuclear Applications

Much of the Agency´s scientific work is focused on the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology in applications related to health, agriculture, industry, water management and preservation of the environment. The Agency works to build up Member State scientific and technical capacities in a manner that supports their national development priorities. Partnerships with other organizations help to optimize the effectiveness of the nuclear technology delivered. And comparative assessments are used to ensure that the nuclear applications being offered are cost effective.

These efforts are making meaningful contributions to social and economic development. Let me offer a few examples.

Improving Nutrition Management
Following the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize to the Agency, the Board of Governors chose to use the award money to set up the IAEA Nobel Cancer and Nutrition Fund. On the nutrition front, the Agency assists countries in using stable isotopes as tracers in the body to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of interventional nutrition strategies. Three regional nutrition courses have been scheduled. For Latin America, a course on combating the double burden of malnutrition and obesity will take place next month in Guatemala City. In Dhaka, in November, an Asian–Pacific regional course will focus on nutrition strategies to combat under-nutrition in the early stages of life. An African regional course, to be held in Kampala, in December, will be centred on using nutrition effectively in the management of HIV/AIDS. The IAEA has strengthened its collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF on nutrition activities.

Cancer Control
For many years, radiotherapy has been used to cure or mitigate the effects of cancer. In this area, the Agency continues to progress on its Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT). Training syllabuses for doctors and nurses working in radiation oncology were completed this year. An Agency CRP on head and neck radiotherapy was recently praised by professional societies for demonstrating therapy protocols that improved tumour control. And under the IAEA Nobel Cancer and Nutrition Fund, upcoming regional courses in Buenos Aires, Bangkok and Cape Town will centre on human resource development in radiation oncology.

But PACT is also working on a more ambitious scale, to integrate radiotherapy into the broader framework of cancer prevention and control. Over the past year, relationships have been built with the leading organizations in the field of cancer control and research - including WHO, the International Agency for Research in Cancer, the International Union Against Cancer, and other national and international bodies and professional societies - in order to assist Member States with comprehensive cancer control programmes. Collaborative efforts are now underway to create model demonstration sites for cancer control in Albania, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, the United Republic of Tanzania, Vietnam and Yemen. These sites will be used to attract additional donors, by raising the profile of cancer as a global health concern.

Control of Communicable Diseases
Many emerging diseases are "zoonotic" in nature - that is, they are communicable from animals to humans. The best known example to emerge recently is avian influenza, or bird flu. The Agency´s Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is currently working with WHO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to help Member States minimize the risks of bird flu outbreaks. Among other initiatives, we are planning a series of workshops for Member State laboratory technicians on bird flu diagnosis using isotopic techniques. This will build on existing capacities established during the rinderpest eradication campaign.

Worldwide, there has been no outbreak of rinderpest since 2003, and all indications are that this animal disease will be officially declared as eradicated by 2010. The Agency continues to work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, using nuclear techniques to evaluate animal samples as part of the annual surveillance for global rinderpest eradication. Mongolia, Pakistan and Yemen are the latest in a long series of countries to benefit from using rinderpest surveillance guidelines developed by the Agency and adopted by OIE.

Sterile Insect Technique
Under a regional technical cooperation (TC) project, countries throughout Central America have used the sterile insect technique (SIT) as part of an environmentally friendly programme for fruit fly control. In addition to reducing insecticide use, the result in many cases is far greater capacity to produce and export fruits and vegetables. Nicaragua, for example, was able earlier this year to initiate commercial shipments of bell peppers to the US market, and Guatemala is expected to do so later in the year.

In the Southern Rift Valley in Ethiopia, tsetse population suppression in preparation for sterile tsetse fly releases has already reduced the prevalence of nagana disease in livestock in certain areas. The Japan-funded UN Trust Fund for Human Security has awarded $1.7 million to this project, and the USA has contributed an additional $1.6 million.

Soil Management
The control of land degradation is an important aspect of food security and environmental quality. An Agency CRP has been studying the use of radionuclides from fallout to assess the efficiency of soil conservation measures. New practices as the result of this research have reduced soil erosion rates on selected sites in Chile, Morocco, Russia, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. Another CRP has assisted 11 Member States in Latin America and Africa in using nuclear measurement techniques to assist farmers in offsetting the acidification of tropical soil and improving crop production.

Plant Mutation Breeding
Mutation breeding of plants is another nuclear technique to improve crop productivity. A recent success is in Ghana, where roughly 200 million cocoa trees have been destroyed in the past 50 years by the cocoa swollen shoot virus. Over the past decade, we have worked with the Ghana Atomic Energy Authority to develop cocoa lines with strong resistance to this virus. A new variety of cocoa is now growing on 25 farms across Ghana with no evidence of a resurgence of this disease. If put into greater production, this new variety could benefit cocoa production not only in Ghana, but also in a number of neighbouring countries.

A similar success is a new variety of banana being used in Sudan, with a 30 per cent increase in yield over local plants. This high yield variety was selected through local testing of banana varieties developed through mutation breeding in the late 1990s at the Agency’s Laboratories at Seibersdorf.

Water Resources Management
With Agency assistance, Member States are using isotope hydrology to address problems of water shortages and the non-sustainable use of water resources. An excellent example is the active participation of Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay last year in a regional TC project for managing groundwater resources in Latin America. As a result of this project, hydro-geological maps were developed, conceptual models were validated, and associated databases were made available and are now in use in participating institutions.

To help countries become more self-sufficient in isotope hydrology, the Isotope Hydrology Laboratory at Seibersdorf is testing and adapting an alternative, low cost laser instrument for stable isotope measurements. This should enable much wider use of this technique at lower cost and with less operator training.

Industrial Applications
The use of gamma radiography techniques in non-destructive testing is an asset to industrial safety and performance reliability. A CRP was recently completed on the use of radiography to test corrosion and deposits in large diameter pipes. Periodic testing by this technique permits the prediction of pipe lifetimes and corresponding savings on maintenance costs.

Radiation treatment has also proven effective in converting some pollutants into harmless end products. The treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater is an important part of environmental engineering, and electron beam treatment is a comparatively new method for wastewater purification. For example, in the Republic of Korea, a high power accelerator and wastewater treatment system has been installed to treat textile dyeing wastewater.

Oceans and Climate Change
The Agency´s Marine Environment Laboratory in Monaco is supporting an international endeavour to better understand the role of oceans in climate change. This involves systematic analysis of samples collected aboard European, Japanese and US expeditions in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Radioisotopes in the samples are used to understand how atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed into the oceans. The marine isotopic techniques and models developed at Monaco and elsewhere also help Member States to assess the impact of climate change on the marine environment.

Nuclear Safety and Security

The safety and security of nuclear activities around the globe remain key elements of the Agency´s mandate. Two decades after the Chernobyl accident, it is clear that the efforts to build a global nuclear safety regime are paying off. Operational safety performance at nuclear power plants remains strong. Occupational radiation protection indicators once again showed improvement over the past year. More Member States are taking a proactive role in radiation source safety. And we are continuing to make strides in strengthening physical protection at nuclear facilities and enhancing the security of nuclear material and radioactive sources worldwide.

But nuclear safety is not an issue that can ever be regarded as "fixed". The strong, steady safety performance of recent years is reassuring. But the sporadic recurrence of events of concern make clear that the promotion of a strong safety culture - for both operators and regulators - should always be viewed as a "work in progress".

Status of International Safety and Security Instruments
The safety conventions and codes of conduct provide a legal and institutional framework for the global nuclear safety regime.

To facilitate information exchange among parties to the em>Early Notification and Assistance Conventions, a single web-based portal for nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies is under development. We are also developing a Code of Conduct that complements these conventions by providing guidance on implementation to States and relevant international organizations, and will promote a harmonized response during such events.

The Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) now has 59 Contracting Parties, including all countries with operating nuclear power plants. As requested by the Parties, the Agency will continue to provide feedback to the CNS Review Meetings based on issues identified during Agency safety missions to nuclear power plants.

The second review meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management took place in May. The membership of the Joint Convention has increased from 34 to 41 Contracting Parties, which together cover about 95 per cent of the world’s radioactive waste inventory. The Contracting Parties signaled their commitment to improve national strategies for spent fuel and radioactive waste management, to engage stakeholders on waste issues, and to enhance the control of disused sealed sources.

A strengthened international nuclear security framework is emerging based on obligations contained in the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), the new International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, relevant Security Council resolutions, the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and related Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources. The amended CPPNM is central to strengthening the international framework, but I would note that, out of 120 States Parties, only five have so far accepted the amendment. I would encourage all States Party to accept the amendment at an early date.

Safety Standards
With the adoption of the Safety Fundamentals by the Board of Governors last week, we are reaching the completion of all actions established by the March 2004 Action Plan on IAEA Safety Standards. The transition to a new safety standard structure has made good progress in all areas. The quality of the standards has notably improved, and identified gaps in coverage are being addressed by new standards. Recent reports by many countries and by organizations such as the Western European Nuclear Regulators´ Association confirm the wider use of IAEA Safety Standards, both as a benchmark for harmonization and as a basis for national regulations.

In addition, as requested by the General Conference last year, a review has been conducted of the International Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources, known as the BSS. The review concluded that, while revision of the BSS is not urgently required, it would be beneficial. The BSS revision process will therefore be started later this year.

To promote the use of IAEA Safety Standards, the Secretariat has developed multimedia presentations to explain the content of about 20 key standards on topics such as legal infrastructure and nuclear power plant design and operation. A variety of training materials and courses are also available.

Safety Review Services
The Agency´s safety review services use the IAEA Safety Standards as a reference point, and play an important part in evaluating their effectiveness. This year we began offering, for the first time, an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS). This new service combines a number of previous services, on topics ranging from nuclear safety and radiation safety to emergency preparedness and nuclear security. The IRRS approach considers international regulatory issues and trends, and provides a balance between technical and policy discussions among senior regulators, to harmonize regulatory approaches and create mutual learning opportunities among regulators.

A reduced scope IRRS was conducted for the United Kingdom Nuclear Installations Inspectorate in March of this year. A full scope service will be conducted in France in November. The Agency has also received requests for IRRS missions from Australia, Canada and Spain, and other Member States have expressed interest in having such missions in the near future. I would request all countries to take advantage of this service. I remain convinced that transparency and introspection are essential ingredients of an effective nuclear safety culture.

Regulators´ Conference
An international conference on effective nuclear regulatory systems was held earlier this year in Moscow. This conference, the first of its kind, offered senior regulators in nuclear safety, radiation safety and nuclear security an opportunity to discuss regulatory challenges and effective regulatory practices. The key challenges identified included: the need to ensure regulatory independence; the complexity of coordinating safety and security priorities; and the importance of securing adequate financial and human resources - particularly in view of expectations for expansion in the use of nuclear power. The clear consensus was that conferences for regulators should be held periodically.

Regional Safety Networks
Regional safety networks can assist in sharing knowledge and implementing safety standards. The Asian Nuclear Safety Network (ANSN) has continued to expand its range of activities and geographical coverage. Working with the Agency, the ANSN is hosting a pilot project on decommissioning of research reactors using the Philippine Research Reactor. The Ibero-American Radiation Safety Network, which became operational at the beginning of this year, will take advantage of the experience gained in developing the ANSN.

The International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) recently issued two reports. The first, on strengthening the global nuclear safety regime, lays out how interactions among nuclear safety regulators, plant operators, scientists and international organizations can be most effective in strengthening safety performance. The second discusses the importance of engaging stakeholders on nuclear issues with openness and transparency. It describes ways and means of effective communication with stakeholders during all stages of the life of a nuclear facility, from planning and design to decommissioning - and makes clear why this interaction can contribute positively to safe facility operation. INSAG has also been reviewing safety infrastructure needs both for emerging and mature nuclear programmes.

Radiological Protection of Patients
In the past three years, the number of Member States participating in Agency projects related to the radiological protection of patients has increased more than threefold, from 21 to a current total of 78 States. The Agency is continuing its efforts to promote better safety performance in this area, including through improving access to related training. In some Member States, professional societies are taking the lead in organizing radiation protection training. The Agency has also recently introduced a website that will provide essential information on this topic to health professionals as well as to patients.

Safety of Transport of Radioactive Material
The safety of transport of radioactive material continues to be an area receiving considerable attention. A TranSAS mission to Japan was completed in December of last year. In January, a seminar in Vienna on the communication of complex transport safety issues was widely attended, engendering an open and constructive dialogue.

Also, as requested by the General Conference, a technical meeting was convened in May to discuss the denial of shipments of radioactive material. The experts recommended the establishment of a steering committee to improve understanding of the underlying issues, and to act as the focal point for receiving notifications of these denials of shipment. The first meeting of the steering committee will take place in November.

Nuclear Liability Regime
The extension of the mandate of the International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability (INLEX) will allow it to continue to provide authoritative advice on the nuclear liability instruments adopted under Agency auspices.

In that regard, I should emphasize that coverage for nuclear liability is an important corollary of nuclear safety. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, substantial improvements were made to the international nuclear liability regime. However, two decades later, more than 50 per cent of the world´s nuclear power reactors are not covered by this regime. Given the renewed interest in nuclear power, this shortfall is a matter of concern. I therefore call on all States with nuclear power programmes and related industries to join this regime.

Emergency Response
Effective national and global response capabilities are essential to minimize the impacts from nuclear incidents and radiological emergencies and to build public trust in the safety and security of nuclear energy. The increased use of nuclear energy and more acute security concerns require a proportionate increase in national, regional and international capabilities to respond to an accident or incident. In this context, the Agency has undertaken to strengthen its Incident and Emergency Centre to better support Member States in dealing with both accidents and security incidents.

Nuclear Security and Protection Against Nuclear Terrorism
The Agency´s nuclear security programme continues to progress at a rapid pace. The Agency faces a challenge in helping Member States to implement the enhanced regime of international legal instruments relevant to nuclear security. In cooperation with Member States, guidance based on international best practices is being published by the Agency as part of a new Nuclear Security Series. The first three publications have already been issued, covering border monitoring equipment, nuclear forensics and monitoring radioactive material in the international mail. More than a dozen other guidance documents are in preparation together with a publication that will establish nuclear security fundamentals.

Over the past year, over 30 evaluation missions related to nuclear and radiological security have been carried out - in some cases including a combined emphasis on relevant safety aspects. The results of these missions help to identify the needs of States and have provided valuable inputs for the development of Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plans (INSSPs) for individual countries. To date, dozens of INSSPs have been drafted and are in various stages of development and implementation.

Capacity building activities in the past year have included: nuclear security training courses, with participation from 88 States; the supply of detection and monitoring equipment; the procurement of physical protection equipment to improve the security of nuclear power plants and other installations; and assistance in protecting locations containing high activity radioactive sources. These activities and upgrades have had a positive impact on nuclear security and, depending on funding, will continue. The pace of training will also be sustained over the coming year.

The Agency has completed its work with Russia and the USA on a tripartite initiative to secure and manage radioactive sources in countries of the former Soviet Union. A significant amount of radioactive material has been secured, and the effort has resulted in much greater regional awareness of this problem. The Agency also has arranged the recovery of over 100 high activity and neutron sources in Africa and Latin America.

The Agency´s Illicit Trafficking Database now has 93 States participating. Analysis of this database is providing insight into trends, risks, and trafficking methods and routes. The number of incidents - more than 100 per year for the past three years - demonstrates a persistent problem with trafficking, thefts, losses and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear or radioactive material. The number of incidents involving detection of materials at borders has increased substantially in recent years. This is clearly due, in part, to the increased deployment by States of detection and monitoring equipment.

I should note, however, that over 90 per cent of the funding for implementation of the Nuclear Security Plan continues to be provided through extrabudgetary contributions to the Nuclear Security Fund, and sustained adequate funding for the 2006–2009 Nuclear Security Plan is not yet assured. To ensure that limited funds are used effectively, the Agency is working with Member States to improve coordination and prioritization.

Research Reactor Conversion
Of the more than 250 research reactors in operation worldwide, about 100 are fuelled with high enriched uranium (HEU). To improve nuclear security, many governments are making efforts to convert these reactors to use low enriched uranium (LEU), and are shipping back the fresh or spent HEU fuel to the country of origin.

Requests for IAEA assistance in these activities is increasing. Over the past year, reactors in Chile and Romania were converted, with Agency support, and similar efforts are ongoing in Poland and Portugal. Additional requests have been received from Bulgaria, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. In the Chilean case, technical assistance was also provided with the fabrication and qualification of domestically produced LEU fuel. An additional four take-back shipments of fresh fuel are being planned.

In June in Oslo, an international conference was held to discuss strategies for minimizing the use of HEU in the civilian sector. Participants were in agreement on the potential for shifting civilian sector activities to the use of LEU; however, concerns were voiced that strategies for HEU minimization should not result in giving a limited number of countries better scientific results and therefore a commercial advantage. The need to reduce military stocks of HEU was also emphasized as an important contribution to ongoing non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

Nuclear Verification

The nuclear non-proliferation and arms control regime continues to face a broad set of challenges. The past few years have underscored the Agency´s important role in preventing proliferation.

Status of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
The number of States with safeguards agreements and additional protocols has steadily increased. Since last year´s General Conference, safeguards agreements under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) have entered into force for six States, and additional protocols have entered into force for nine States. This makes a total of 78 States with additional protocols in force. However, over 100 States - including 25 with significant nuclear activities - have yet to bring additional protocols into force.

The Safeguards Implementation Report and Safeguards Statement for 2005
In 2005, the Agency implemented comprehensive safeguards agreements (CSAs) in 156 States - 70 of which also had additional protocols in force or otherwise applied. For 24 of these 70 States, the Agency was able to conclude - having found no indication of the diversion of declared nuclear material, and no indication of undeclared nuclear material or activities - that all nuclear material remained in peaceful activities.

The Agency is working to reach the same conclusion with respect to all other States with CSAs and additional protocols in force. At this stage, for those States and others without additional protocols, the Secretariat could only conclude that declared nuclear material remained in peaceful activities.

As of the end of 2005, 36 non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT had not yet fulfilled their obligation to bring CSAs with the Agency into force. For these States, we could not draw any safeguards conclusions.

Small Quantities Protocols
The Secretariat has initiated exchanges of letters with States with "small quantities protocols" (SQPs) to CSAs, to implement the Board´s decision to modify the standard text and change the eligibility for an SQP. The revised SQP puts back into force some of the provisions of the CSA which were held in abeyance under earlier SQPs, such as the obligation to submit an initial report on all nuclear material subject to safeguards, and the Agency´s right to conduct on-site inspection to verify the State’s declarations. Six States so far have accepted the modified version of the SQP. I would ask all relevant States to take the necessary action as early as possible.

Implementation of Safeguards
The Secretariat has continued to make it a priority to implement integrated safeguards - which involves integrating traditional nuclear material verification activities with new strengthening measures, particularly those of the additional protocol. As I mentioned last year, we are already implementing integrated safeguards in Japan, the country with the largest nuclear programme under safeguards. For Canada - the country in which the Agency´s verification effort is the second largest - an integrated safeguards approach was approved in December 2005. Integrated safeguards in Canada will be implemented gradually across the different stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, allowing significant savings in inspection efforts for the Agency. Integrated safeguards are currently being implemented in ten States.

Verification Activities in Iraq
The Agency´s mandate in Iraq under UN Security Council resolution 687 (1991) and other related resolutions remains in effect. Security Council resolution 1546 (2004), inter alia, reaffirmed the intention of the Council to revisit the mandate of the Agency in Iraq. I would hope that the Council would review this mandate as early as possible - with the aim of normalizing inspections in Iraq, once the security situation would allow the Agency to confirm the absence of any undeclared nuclear activities.

Implementation of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea
Since the end of December 2002, when Agency verification activities were terminated at the request of the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Agency has been unable to draw any conclusions regarding the DPRK´s nuclear activities. I continue to believe in the importance and urgency of finding a negotiated solution to the current situation. The Agency stands ready to work with the DPRK - and with all others - towards a solution that addresses the needs of the international community to ensure that all nuclear activities in the DPRK are exclusively for peaceful purposes, while addressing the security and other concerns of the DPRK.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran
The implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been on the agenda of the Board for more than three years, and lately also on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. On 31 July 2006, the Security Council adopted resolution 1696, in which it called upon Iran to take the steps required by the Board in its resolution of 4 February 2006. These steps included the necessity of the Agency continuing its work to clarify all outstanding issues relating to Iran´s nuclear programme, and the re-establishment by Iran of full and sustained suspension of all its enrichment related and reprocessing activities. In my report of 31 August to the Board and to the Security Council, regarding Iran´s fulfillment of the requirements of that resolution, I stated that Iran had not suspended its enrichment related activities, nor was the Agency able to make progress on resolving the outstanding issues, due to the absence of the necessary transparency on the part of Iran.

As I have indicated in the past, all the nuclear material declared by Iran to the Agency has been accounted for - and, apart from the small quantities previously reported to the Board, there have been no further findings of undeclared nuclear material in Iran.

But as I have just stated, because of the inability of the Agency to make progress in resolving the outstanding issues relevant to the scope and nature of Iran´s current and past centrifuge enrichment programme, the Agency cannot make any further progress in its efforts to provide assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. This continues to be a matter of serious concern.

In addition to the Agency´s current verification activities in Iran, I remain hopeful that, through the ongoing dialogue between Iran and its European and other partners, the conditions will be created to engage in a long overdue negotiation that aims to achieve a comprehensive settlement that, on the one hand, would address the international community´s concerns about the peaceful nature of Iran´s nuclear programme, while on the other hand addressing Iran´s economic, political and security concerns.

Application of Agency Safeguards in the Middle East
Pursuant to the mandate given to me by the General Conference, I have continued my consultations with the States of the Middle East region on the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East, and on the development of model agreements as a necessary step towards the establishment of a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. However, I regret to say that no progress has been made on either front.

The General Conference has also asked me to organize a forum on the relevance of the experience of other regions with existing nuclear-weapon-free zones - including confidence building and verification measures - for establishing such a zone in the region of the Middle East. To date, however, consultations with concerned States of the region have failed to produce an agreement on the agenda for such a forum. I remain ready to convene this forum, if and when the concerned States are able to reach agreement on how to move forward.

Efforts to Increase Safeguards Effectiveness and Efficiency
As part of ongoing efforts to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards, the Agency continues to develop new safeguards approaches and techniques. An improved safeguards approach for gas centrifuge enrichment plants has already been reviewed and supported by the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation. In addition, a new safeguards approach for verifying transfers of spent fuel to a dry storage facility has successfully been tested in field trials, and shows potential for significant savings in inspection efforts.

The number of environmental samples taken during the course of both routine inspection and complementary access has grown significantly. This increases the burden on the analytical and evaluation resources of both the Agency and its Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL). I encourage additional Member States to submit candidate laboratories for NWAL qualification.

Remote monitoring is an important part of both traditional and integrated safeguards, as a cost effective way of verifying the control of nuclear material. Last year, we began working with the European Space Agency to assess the potential use of secure satellite communications for remote monitoring. Initial field testing of this technology was successful, and we are now working on a feasibility study to assess the relevance of satellite communication both for safeguards purposes, as well as for the safety and security related uses of the Agency´s Incident and Emergency Centre.

For the Agency to cope with ongoing verification challenges and continuous evolution in technology, we will need to make use of advanced information sources, improved analytical tools and processes, and staff with specialized analysis skills. The Integrated Safeguards Information System (ISIS) re-engineering project, which began in July 2005, is aimed at producing by 2009 a fully integrated information system, which will significantly upgrade our current capabilities, and is necessary to support an information driven safeguards system. This ambitious project is funded through regular budget and extrabudgetary resources, and it is clear that bringing it to completion will require continued Member State assistance, in terms of both financial and technical contributions.

The Advisory Committee on Safeguards and Verification has also begun considering issues related to ways and means to further strengthen the Agency’s safeguards system. I would ask Member States to support the Committee’s efforts to move forward expeditiously on these and other issues.

Technical Cooperation Programme

For fifty years, technical cooperation has been a principal mechanism for implementing the Agency´s basic mission of Atoms for Peace. But over that time, the relationship between Member States and the Secretariat has evolved in key aspects. Fifty years ago, many of the Member States that participated in the Technical "Assistance" Programme lacked all but the most rudimentary capabilities for applying nuclear science and technology. The IAEA was a centre of technical expertise that provided aid to developing Member States as a one-way transfer of technology - often in the form of "turnkey" projects - to establish basic scientific and technical capabilities.

Today, we have evolved to a partnership that hinges on cooperation - the sharing of knowledge and expertise. Many Member State institutions now have capabilities equal to or exceeding those of the Secretariat. As a result, experience gained in one Member State is often called upon by another Member State through a variety of mechanisms. The substance of cooperation has also changed, because it increasingly focuses on the transfer of knowledge and technology to address specific development problems.

The Agency´s Medium Term Strategy envisions an evolving strategic partnership with Member States that maximizes the roles and responsibilities of national institutions to develop and apply nuclear technologies for sustainable development. In this roadmap, strong regional resource centres - as well as regional expertise, goods and services - will be used to deliver Agency programmes. This type of partnership with Member States will be essential if Agency goals and objectives are to be achieved. Similarly, partnerships that achieve synergy with other UN organizations are key to effective delivery of the Agency´s programme. This might be considered the ultimate "one-house" approach, because the shared vision and commitment of the Secretariat and the Member States will be the driving force for its success.

To illustrate, consider a few examples of Member States that have taken on leadership roles in advancing nuclear science and technology for development.

Ghana joined the Agency in 1960. Over the intervening years, Ghana´s TC programme has covered topics ranging from isotope hydrology and industrial applications of nuclear technology to nuclear medicine and radiotherapy. As Ghana´s technical institutions and capabilities have grown, they have provided more than 80 international experts to support TC projects in Africa and other regions. They have hosted some 30 fellows and scientific visitors, and more than 25 training events. Recently the Agency supported the opening of the School for Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) at the University of Ghana in Accra, a new regional training resource that the Government intends to use not only to train local specialists, but also to make available to engineers and scientists from neighbouring countries and the region.

The Czech Republic formally joined the Agency in 1993 following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, which had been a Member since 1957. The Czech TC programme has been dominated by the nation´s motivation to strengthen its institutional base for nuclear engineering, chemistry and technology. As a result, the Czech Republic has become a major source of expertise and consultant services. It has provided over 700 project experts, hosted over 50 training events and taken on nearly 500 fellows and scientific visitors. The Nuclear Research Institute at Řež is an excellent example of technical self-reliance and successful collaboration in nuclear science and technology - particularly because of its standing as a source of expertise to Member States in the region and beyond. The Czech Republic now provides more in contributions to the TC programme than it receives from the Technical Cooperation Fund.

Brazil joined the Agency in 1957. Brazil´s TC programme has reflected the Government´s interest in establishing strong nuclear engineering and technology institutes, with a strong focus on using nuclear medicine and radiotherapy to improve health services. Brazil has become the largest resource country for the TC programme in the Latin American region. It has provided over 800 international experts, hosted over 1300 fellows and scientific visitors and hosted some 65 training events. Brazil´s National Nuclear Energy Commission manages four national nuclear research institutes and is currently inaugurating a fifth institute in the north of Brazil. The "Instituto de Pesquisas Energeticas e Nucleares (IPEN)" in São Paulo is also a good example of institutional leadership in a developing country, because it combines R&D focused on services and products for national needs (such as radioisotopes, radiation protection and professional training) with regional partnerships.

These Member States, and many others, are the best demonstration of the success of the Agency´s TC programme. Properly harnessed, the programme promotes sustainable growth and human security.

Management of the Agency

TC Programme Funding
Payments made against the 2005 target for voluntary contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund (TCF) have now reached nearly $70 million - a significant figure because it marks the first time in which the rate of attainment reached 90 per cent. A number of Member States are also participating in cost sharing for TC activities - a clear expression of government commitment.

For 2006, the TCF target is once again $77.5 million. The targets for 2007 and 2008 have been set at $80 million. I would call on all Member States to pay in full and on time their applicable TC contributions, so that funding for the overall TC programme can be assured, sufficient and predictable, and so that we can implement TC programmes as planned for all recipient countries.

Regular Budget for 2007
This General Conference will consider the regular budget appropriation for 2007, as recommended by the Board. Even though the programme we are now implementing is for two years, our budgets still need to be approved on an annual basis. To date, only 40 Member States have accepted the amendment to Article XIV.A of the Statute, adopted in 1999 that would allow the Agency to benefit from biennial budgeting. Once again, I would urge all Member States that have not yet done so to accept this amendment as soon as possible.

Expansion of the Board of Governors
I should note also that the amendment to Article VI, relevant to the expansion of the membership of the Board of Governors, to date has been ratified by only 43 Member States.

Women in the Secretariat
We are continuing our efforts to improve the percentage of women in professional posts in the Secretariat. The percentage has improved somewhat over the years, rising from 17.1 per cent in 1998 to the current 20.5 per cent, with an appreciable increase in the number of women at the senior level; however, the results are still well below what we would like to see. During the past year, in addition to continuing to implement a family friendly work environment, we have strengthened the network of "points of contact" designated by individual Member States. These points of contact work with the Secretariat in identifying well qualified female candidates in their respective countries. To date, 39 countries have made such designations. I encourage those Member States who have not done so to join in this effort.

A key handicap in the Agency´s recruitment of women is the fact that, worldwide, relatively few women choose careers in nuclear science and engineering. This is an issue for the industry and national organizations as well - and, as such, I would urge Member States to take steps to encourage more women to enter these fields.

New Framework for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Finally, let me turn to a topic that relates to many aspects of the Agency’s work. As we look to the future, it is clear that we face a number of related challenges. The increase in global energy demand is driving a potential expansion in the use of nuclear energy. And concern is mounting regarding the proliferation risks created by the further spread of sensitive nuclear technology, such as uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

The convergence of the above realities points to the need for the development of a new framework for the nuclear fuel cycle.

I have been calling since 2004 for the development of a new, multilateral approach to the nuclear fuel cycle, as a key measure to strengthen non-proliferation and cope with the expected expansion of nuclear power use. The establishment of a framework that is equitable and accessible to all users of nuclear energy acting in accordance with agreed nuclear non-proliferation norms will certainly be a complex endeavour, and therefore in my view will be best addressed through a series of progressive phases:

  • The first phase would establish mechanisms for assurances of supply of fuel for nuclear power plants.
  • The second phase would develop, as needed, assurances regarding the acquisition of nuclear power reactors.
  • The third phase would facilitate the conversion of existing enrichment and reprocessing facilities from national to multilateral operations, and would encourage limiting future enrichment and reprocessing to multilateral operations.

A broad range of ideas, studies and proposals have been put forward on this topic. My hope is that the discussions this week will enable us to develop a roadmap for moving forward, in close consultation and with the active involvement of our Member States.

Fifty years after the Atoms for Peace initiative, it is timely to think of a new framework for the use of nuclear energy - a framework that accounts both for the lessons we have learned and the current reality. This new framework should in my view include: (1) active R&D in nuclear power and nuclear applications; (2) a new framework for the fuel cycle; (3) universal application of comprehensive safeguards and the additional protocol; (4) concrete and rapid progress towards nuclear disarmament; (5) a robust international security regime; (6) an effective and universal nuclear safety regime; and (7) sufficient funding for the Agency to meet its responsibilities.<


Last update: 26 Nov 2019

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