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Statement to Fifty-Eighth Regular Session of IAEA General Conference 2014

Vienna, Austria
Fifty-Eighth Regular Session of IAEA General Conference 2014

Mr. President,

I will begin by welcoming three new Member States which have joined the Agency since the last General Conference: the Bahamas, Brunei Darussalam and San Marino.

Mr. President,

In my visits to Member States all over the world, I become more and more convinced of the vital importance of science and technology for sustainable development.

Nuclear science and technology have much to contribute to the achievement of development goals in areas such as human health, agriculture, water management, and industrial applications, as well as in energy.

I see the impact of this technology on the lives of cancer patients, who gain access to better health care because the IAEA helps their countries build capacity in nuclear medicine for diagnosis and radiotherapy.

I see it in the lives of farmers, who can grow larger crops of basic foods such as rice and barley, even in difficult conditions, thanks to the availability of robust new varieties of plants developed through radiation techniques.

Through our Technical Cooperation programme, the Agency plays the key role in ensuring that developing countries gain access to nuclear science and technology.

Unfortunately, these activities are not well known. So, wherever I go, I try to raise awareness of this vitally important area of our work.

The impact of our work in the daily lives of millions of people around the world is extraordinary and deserves to be better known.

Mr. President,

The nations of the world are presently considering new sustainable development goals for the years after 2015.

I ask all Member States to help ensure that the importance of science and technology is explicitly recognised as a central part of the post-2015 agenda. This should include recognition of the immense benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. I am doing what I can to build awareness in this area.

A unique feature of the IAEA, and a key element of our special contribution to development, is our cluster of nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, near Vienna.

They offer training in nuclear applications to scientists in Member States; support research in human health, food and other areas; and provide analytical services to national laboratories. I have had the pleasure of meeting many graduates of the laboratories who are now working in their home countries, applying the knowledge and training they gained with us to national programmes.

The laboratories are more than 50 years old and a major overhaul is long overdue.

I presented a detailed modernization strategy, known as ReNuAL, to the Board in May. The ground-breaking ceremony will take place next Monday. When the project is completed in 2017, we will have fit-for-purpose laboratories that will meet Member State needs for the next 15 to 20 years.

ReNuAL is an extremely important project for the Agency which will benefit all Member States. I appeal to all countries to contribute generously.

Mr. President,

A key challenge facing the world in the coming decades will be to provide reliable supplies of energy as the population grows, and, at the same time, to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Many countries believe nuclear power can help them to address this challenge. Nuclear power is one of the lowest emitters of carbon dioxide - alongside hydro- and wind-based electricity - when emissions through the entire life cycle are considered.

There are 437 nuclear power reactors operating today in 30 countries, producing about 11 per cent of global electricity. Seventy reactors are under construction, mostly in Asia. The Agency is working closely with 33 countries that are considering, planning or starting nuclear power programmes. Our latest projections show continued growth in the use of nuclear power by 2030, although growth is likely to be slower than we expected before the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Based on experience and feedback from Member States, we are now revising an important Agency document entitled Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power, which has proved to be of great value to many countries.

We are also working with Member States on increasing the use of nuclear power reactors in areas such as seawater desalination, district heating and petrochemical applications. This could significantly boost plant efficiency and generate more revenue.

Radioactive waste is an issue for all countries, not just those which have nuclear power programmes. Although there is widespread misunderstanding about the feasibility of disposing of radioactive waste, technologies do exist to address this issue. It must be given proper consideration by all States when they embark on any use of nuclear technology. I invite all Member States to participate in this year's Scientific Forum, entitled Radioactive Waste: Meeting the Challenge, which starts tomorrow.

Mr. President,

Progress continues to be made in improving nuclear safety throughout the world. I have seen concrete improvements in safety features at every nuclear power plant I have visited since the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

The Agency and its Member States continue to implement the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, which was endorsed by the General Conference in 2011.

In the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the focus was on helping Japan respond to the crisis and ensuring that the necessary lessons were learned, and acted upon, everywhere. At next year's General Conference, we will publish an important report on the accident.

However, nuclear safety is not simply about guarding against severe natural hazards. In the coming years, we have to look at safety aspects of other important issues, including decommissioning old facilities, extending the operating life of existing nuclear power plants, disposing of high-level radioactive waste, and developing innovative technologies such as fast reactors and new small and medium-sized reactors. While taking forward the lessons arising from Fukushima Daiichi, I believe it is time to start considering a broader approach to strengthening nuclear safety.

Mr. President,

The central role of the Agency in helping to strengthen the global nuclear security framework is widely recognized.

The international nuclear security environment is constantly changing. With its broad mandate and technical capabilities, and the support of 162 Member States, the Agency is well placed to continue playing the central role in helping the world to act in unison against the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Demand for our services is growing steadily. For example, we provided nuclear security training to nearly 3 000 people in the year to June, an increase of 37 per cent over the previous year. A total of 62 International Physical Protection Advisory Service missions have now been held in 40 countries.

The most important area of unfinished business in nuclear security remains the entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. There has been real momentum in recent years towards its entry into force, which is one of the most significant measures which the world could adopt to strengthen nuclear security. I appeal to all countries which have not yet done so to adhere to the Amendment.

The next high-level IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, which will take place in December 2016, will be an important opportunity to review progress achieved and to map out our work for the future.

Mr. President,

I will now turn to nuclear verification.

The number of States with additional protocols to their comprehensive safeguards agreements in force continues to rise. It now stands at 124. I urge remaining States to conclude additional protocols as soon as possible. I also ask the 12 States without NPT safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay.

The nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea remains a matter of serious concern.

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 five-year absence of Agency inspectors from the country. The Agency will maintain its readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme.

Since the last General Conference, there have been important developments concerning safeguards implementation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In November 2013, the Agency and Iran agreed to cooperate further to resolve all present and past issues under a Framework for Cooperation.

Last month, I held meetings in Tehran with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Dr. Hassan Rouhani, and other senior officials as part of my efforts to advance high-level dialogue between the Agency and Iran.

Under the Framework for Cooperation, Iran has implemented a number of practical measures as planned. However, two such measures remain to be implemented.

In order to resolve all outstanding issues, it is very important that Iran continues to implement, in a timely manner, all practical measures agreed under the Framework for Cooperation, and that it proposes new measures that we can agree upon for the next step.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

The Agency also continues to undertake monitoring and verification in relation to the nuclear-related measures set out in the Joint Plan of Action agreed between the E3+3 and Iran. Iran has been implementing the relevant measures as envisaged and on time.

As my report on Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East shows, there remain fundamental differences of view among countries of the region on this issue. It has therefore not been possible to make further progress in fulfilling my mandate from the General Conference in this area. I will continue my consultations.

Mr. President,

The Agency is likely to face tough budget constraints for some years to come, reflecting financial difficulties in many countries. In response, we are doing everything possible to make prudent use of our limited resources and ensure we deliver maximum benefit to our Member States. At the same time, demand for our services continues to grow and it is not possible to meet these growing needs within existing financial means. We must therefore strike a delicate balance between the capacity of Member States to contribute and Member State needs, while seeking additional sources of funding.

I continue my efforts to encourage well qualified women to apply for senior positions in the Agency. The number of women in senior positions has risen steadily since I took office nearly five years ago. All of them are making significant contributions to our work. As I have said many times, recruiting more women is not just a matter of fairness. It is because if we fail to do so, we are missing out on the skills and experience of some exceptionally bright and capable people.

Mr. President,

I will conclude by thanking you, the IAEA's Member States, for your support for our work and the confidence which you have placed in me as Director General.

I am very grateful to Austria for being a model host country.

And I again express my deep appreciation to all Agency staff for their hard work and dedication.

Thank you.


Last update: 25 Nov 2019

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