• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

Statement to the Fifty-First Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference 2007

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria
IAEA General Conference

Fifty years ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency was entrusted with the mission of ensuring that nuclear energy would not become a cause for the destruction of humanity, but rather an engine for peace and prosperity. Security and development were brought together as two aspects of the same ideal: "Atoms for Peace".

If one were to recall our history since that time, a number of milestones would stand out. The rapid expansion of nuclear power in the 1960s and 1970s. The landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 - and the development of the Agency´s comprehensive verification regime. The evolution of the technical assistance programme as a key vehicle for the transfer of nuclear science and technology to developing countries. The development of international nuclear safety and security regimes.

Throughout its history, the Agency has also faced a number of challenges and painful experiences, necessitating change, adjustment and innovation. The 1986 accident at Chernobyl. The discovery of Iraq´s clandestine nuclear weapons programme in the early 1990s. Or the nuclear security challenge revealed in the aftermath of 11 September 2001.

Today, I would like to discuss some recent developments and current challenges. But in doing this, we should not lose sight of the goals and ideals that have guided the Agency since its inception. They remain as relevant and meaningful today as they were to the founders of the IAEA.

Nuclear Power Technology

Changes in Nuclear Power
I have spoken in recent years of rising expectations for nuclear power. But forecasting is always difficult. Lord Rutherford said in 1933, "The energy produced by breaking down the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformations of these atoms is talking moonshine." By 1954 the mistake was overestimation, when the Chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission predicted that nuclear generated electricity would become "too cheap to meter".

In my view, the role of the Agency is not so much to predict the future as to do its utmost to plan and prepare for it. What seems clear today is that there are three strong factors driving a renewed global interest in nuclear power: the steady growth in energy demand; the increasing concerns about energy security; and the challenge of climate change.

There are currently 439 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries. These reactors supply about 15.2% of the world´s electricity. To date, the use of nuclear power has been concentrated in industrialized countries. But in terms of new construction, the pattern is different: 15 of the 30 reactors now being built are in developing countries.

Most of the recent expansion has been centred in Asia. Countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have concrete plans or have expressed their intent to introduce nuclear power - and plans for expanding existing nuclear power programmes are being implemented in China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Pakistan.

And of course, this renewed interest is not limited to Asia. Other countries, such as Algeria, Belarus, Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Nigeria, Turkey and Yemen are among those considering or moving forward with the infrastructure needed to introduce nuclear power programmes. And many others, such as Argentina, Bulgaria, Finland, France, South Africa, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, are working to add new reactors to their existing programmes.

Support for Energy Studies and Nuclear Infrastructure
The Agency has seen a substantial increase in requests for assistance with national energy studies. We are currently supporting studies in 77 Member States - and 29 of these studies are exploring nuclear energy as a potential option.

To assist Member States, the Secretariat this year published a booklet entitled, "Considerations to launch a nuclear power programme". We have also published a series of detailed technical guidance documents: for example, on how to manage a country´s first nuclear power plant project.

Innovation in Nuclear Power Technology
Technological and institutional innovation is a key factor in ensuring the long term sustainability of nuclear power. By institutional innovation, I refer to creative policy and infrastructure approaches. In some cases, a shared regional approach to nuclear power infrastructure, construction and operation may be feasible. A good example is the ongoing cooperation among the Baltic States on energy strategies, which now includes collaboration with Poland on plans to construct a nuclear power plant to help meet regional electricity demands.

On the technology innovation front, I should note that the Agency´s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) has grown to 28 members. Phase 1 of INPRO, focused on developing a methodology for evaluation of innovative nuclear systems, has been completed. Key considerations for these innovative designs are improvements to safety, security, proliferation resistance and economics, as well as meeting the requirements of potential nuclear power users. The methodology is currently being used in assessment studies by Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, China, France, India, Ukraine and the EC and in a joint study by Canada, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

INPRO has now moved to Phase 2, which includes collaborative projects on technological issues that need to be addressed for improved economics, safety, proliferation-resistance and other issues. Fourteen collaborative projects have been proposed, and studies on selected topical areas will commence soon. INPRO is also continuing to work closely with the Generation IV International Forum - a cooperative international initiative working on innovative reactor technologies.

Given the fundamental importance of energy for development, it is important that we actively pursue the design and production of small and intermediate sized reactors. Successful production of safe and affordable reactors in this size range will be essential if nuclear power is to be a feasible option for countries and regions with small electrical grids.

Roughly a dozen innovative designs for small and intermediate sized reactors are currently under development in various countries, including some at stages that would suggest possible deployment in the next decade.

In Russia, construction began in April on a 70 megawatt floating nuclear plant using two water cooled reactors. Deployment is scheduled for 2010. The 165 megawatt Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, developed in South Africa with international participation, is scheduled for demonstration at full size by 2012. A licensing application is to be submitted next year.

Plant Life Extension
For some countries, greater focus has been given to power upgrades, restarts of previously shutdown reactors, and licence extensions. In the USA, nine more nuclear plants have had their 40-year licences extended for an additional 20 years, bringing the total number of licence renewals to 48. The French Nuclear Safety Authority has put in place a safety review system under which 20 pressurized water reactors would operate for an additional ten years. Finland, The Netherlands and Russia have also moved forward with licence extensions.

The Agency has been working with other international organizations on plant life management for long term operation. Two coordinated research projects (CRPs) are focused on detailed engineering analysis of aspects of reactor vessel structural integrity over longer term operation. Together with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, we also recently published a guidance document entitled, "Nuclear Power Plant Life Management for Long Term Operation".

Uranium Exploration and Production
An area of increased recent activity involves uranium exploration, mining and production. Interest among Member States has been driven partly by uranium price increases and the projection of continued growth in demand. The Agency has organized meetings on this topic in Argentina, China, India and Kazakhstan, and the 2008-2009 biennium will include an international symposium on uranium exploration, mining and production and the longer term availability of uranium.

Assurance of Supply and Multinational Control of Fuel Cycle Operations
The expected expansion in nuclear power will drive a commensurate increase in demand for nuclear fuel cycle services and the need for an assurance of supply mechanism. This could also increase the potential proliferation risks created by the spread of sensitive nuclear technology, particularly if more countries decide to create independent uranium enrichment and plutonium separation facilities. These trends point clearly to the urgent need for the development of a new, multilateral framework for the nuclear fuel cycle, both the front and the back end.

Over the past two years, a number of proposals and ideas have been put forward. With respect to the front end, some parties have proposed the creation of an actual or virtual reserve fuel bank of last resort, under IAEA auspices, for the assurance of supply of nuclear fuel. This bank would operate on the basis of apolitical and non-discriminatory non-proliferation criteria. Others are proposing to convert a national facility into an international enrichment centre. Still others are proposing the construction of a new, multinational enrichment facility under IAEA control. The Secretariat has examined these proposals and their associated legal, technical, financial and institutional aspects. In June, I made a report to the Board on "options" for assurances of supply of nuclear fuel, which I trust will be of help to you in considering this important issue.

Controlling nuclear material is a complex process; yet if we fail to act, it could be the Achilles´ heel of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. In my view, an incremental approach is the way to move forward, beginning with the establishment of an equitable system for assurance of supply. The next step would seek to bring any new operations for uranium enrichment and plutonium separation under multinational control. Over time, these multinational controls would also be extended to facilities that already exist - to ensure that all countries are treated equally in terms of their nuclear capabilities.

Management of Spent Fuel and High Level Waste
The management of spent fuel and disposal of high level radioactive waste remain a key challenge for the nuclear power industry. Experts agree that the geological disposal of high level radioactive waste is safe and technologically feasible. The most advanced projects on deep geological disposal are in Finland and the USA, where disposal sites have been chosen and pre-construction work is under way. But waste disposal may remain a matter of public skepticism until the first such facility is operational, which will still be more than a decade. In the meantime, the trend has been to construct and use above-ground interim storage facilities, and many countries are exploring the feasibility of interim storage for 100 years or more.

The Agency´s Network of Centres of Excellence on Training and Demonstration in Underground Research Facilities, supported by six countries, will conduct training courses during 2007 on methods for geological disposal of spent fuel and high level waste, and on the use of computer modelling to assess the performance of such disposal facilities.

The global volume of stored spent fuel continues to increase, and expected storage periods continue to lengthen. A number of recent Agency studies and guidance documents have been focused on the technology for spent fuel storage and the long term behaviour of spent fuel and storage components.

Disposal of Radioactive Sources
Some progress has been made in areas related to the disposal of particular types of low and intermediate level waste. Many countries have been interested in finding better methods for safely disposing of spent high activity radioactive sources (or "SHARS"). Working with the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa, the Agency has developed and pilot tested the "SHARS Installation", a mobile hot cell used to condition these sources for disposal. Conditioning operations are planned in several African countries. Depending on progress there, this initiative will be expanded to Latin America and Asia.

The Agency is assessing the potential of borehole disposal of disused sealed sources for countries that generate small volumes of radioactive waste and have no other disposal options. In some countries, these boreholes might be co-located with near surface repositories for low level waste. With Agency support, this technology is being assessed in Member States in different regions, including Africa, Asia and Latin America. We are also preparing a detailed technical manual on this subject.

Research Reactors
Worldwide, 245 research reactors are in operation. Recent reviews have shown that many of these reactors are under-utilized. The Agency has begun a programme to encourage cooperation among operators to improve research reactor utilization and broaden the scope of services they provide. This will be a principal focus in November in Sydney, where we are organizing a conference on the "safe management and effective utilization" of research reactors.

The Agency is continuing to assist Member States in converting research reactors from the use of high enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel and in shipping HEU fuel back to its country of origin. We are also supporting efforts to resolve remaining technical issues related to the conversion of some research reactors to LEU.

Knowledge Management
The Agency promotes the management of nuclear knowledge in three ways: by helping Member States with strategies to ensure the preservation of knowledge essential to safe nuclear operation and optimal performance; by putting systems in place to make existing nuclear information - scientific studies, data, lessons learned, etc. - available to those who need it; and by supporting efforts to educate the nuclear workforce of the next generation.

In June, the Agency worked with other organizations, including the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Nuclear University, to organize an international conference on knowledge management in nuclear facilities, focused on topics such as preserving core knowledge for safe operation, optimizing performance and training the next generation of operators. A guidance document on nuclear knowledge management was published last November, and three missions on this topic were conducted this year, to share with nuclear operators good practices in this field: two to Canadian nuclear power plants, and one to the nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

Nuclear Applications

The Agency directs much of its scientific activity to peaceful nuclear applications related to health, agriculture, industry, water management and preservation of the environment. We work to build up Member State scientific and technical capacities in a manner that supports their national development priorities. We build partnerships with other organizations to improve the effectiveness and reach of nuclear technology. We conduct comparative assessments to ensure that the nuclear applications being offered are cost effective.

I will offer a few examples.

Since last September, the fundraising efforts of our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) have secured pledges, grants and donations amounting to over $3 million. The US-based National Foundation for Cancer Research has also recently established a PACT Endowment Fund, to facilitate charitable contributions to PACT by individuals and organizations in the USA. We have engaged the services of a professional fundraising firm. And offers to collaborate with PACT have been received from over 20 Member States, with cancer treatment institutions making their hospitals and educational centres available for PACT support.

Working with our international partners, we have continued to implement PACT Model Demonstration Sites to develop multidisciplinary cancer control capacity in Albania, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, the United Republic of Tanzania, Vietnam and Yemen. As these projects mature, they will demonstrate the value of comprehensive cancer control planning and the advantages of systematic, cross-sector collaboration on cancer care and public health. They will serve as platforms for larger scale regional fundraising. As with many other PACT activities, IAEA collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) has been steadily expanded through the development of these sites.

The IAEA Nobel Fund was used to support special events this past year on cancer control, in Argentina, Thailand and South Africa. Each event included modules on comprehensive cancer control, radiation oncology, research, education and training, and emerging techniques in radiotherapy planning and delivery.

With these activities generating a broader awareness of cancer needs, the Agency is seeing a sharp upturn in the number of Member State requests for help with evaluating and addressing their cancer control needs.

Nutrition and HIV/AIDS: Working with WHO
During the past year, the IAEA has further strengthened its collaboration with WHO and other UN agencies on human nutrition. The IAEA Nobel Fund events on nutrition - held in Guatemala, Uganda and Bangladesh - were aimed at building capacity in the use of stable isotope techniques for dietary interventions to improve and monitor the health of infants and children. Fellowship awards were also granted to young professionals, targeting in particular women from developing countries.

A particular focus is the importance of dietary interventions for people living with HIV/AIDS. A plan is under way with WHO for a regional consultation in Southeast Asia to ensure that nutrition is part of the essential package of care, treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS in this region.

Water Resources
The lack of availability of sufficient freshwater constrains the development efforts of many Member States. Environmental scientists predict further impacts due to climate-induced changes in precipitation and river flows. It is in this context that a large and increasing number of Member States are turning to the Agency for assistance in the management of their water resources by using isotope techniques. In the past year, we have completed a number of projects to help Member States to become more self-reliant in isotope hydrology. For example, we have published an Atlas of Isotope Hydrology for Africa that provides an overview of the nature of aquifers and river hydrology in 26 countries.

Food and Agriculture
For more than 40 years, the Agency has benefited from an active partnership with FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, through the Joint Division established in 1967. With more than 820 million hungry people in the world, efforts to enhance food security and safety and increase crop productivity have never been more relevant.

With thousands of new varieties of food crops released in dozens of countries over the past half century, plant breeding has been one of the real success stories of Atoms for Peace. A recent regional project in Asia used plant breeding to develop more than 20 new food crop varieties. For example, farmers in areas of Sri Lanka affected by the December 2004 tsunami are now growing a high yielding, salinity tolerant variety of mung bean, a nutritious type of green bean.

The early, rapid and sensitive diagnosis of bird flu - avian influenza - has received special attention in recent years because of the potential for widespread devastation if an uncontrolled outbreak were to occur. At the IAEA, this has resulted in a CRP on the topic, along with training courses for relevant laboratories. Nuclear related technologies have been shown to permit diagnosis of the disease in one or two days, as compared to over a week with conventional methods. These techniques also limit handling and direct exposure to the live virus. In addition, methods involving stable isotopes have been used to help Member States trace infected migratory birds to their place of origin.

Pest Control
Slow but steady progress is being made under the IAEA supported Southern Rift Valley Tsetse Eradication Project in Ethiopia, which would use the sterile insect technique (SIT) in conjunction with other pest control methods. Funds from Ethiopia as well as extrabudgetary funding from China, Japan and the USA were used to complete two modules of the tsetse rearing facility in Addis Ababa. The facility was officially inaugurated this year and the first test releases of sterile males have been carried out in the project area. This represents a major milestone; however, this progress will need to be sustained in the coming years in order to achieve the desired results.

The Agency has also been working to determine the feasibility of using SIT against mosquitoes as a tool for combating malaria. Research efforts at the Agency´s Laboratories at Seibersdorf have been building up a colony of mosquitoes and evaluating the effects of radiation doses on the males at various stages of maturity.

Soil Conservation
IAEA projects using nuclear techniques have been successful in testing and targeting soil conservation measures to improve farming practices and save millions of tonnes of productive topsoil. For example, IAEA training in the use of radionuclides was employed in China in support of a World Bank project for controlling soil erosion. Annual soil erosion from one area was reduced from over 8 million tonnes to about 1 million tonnes, saving productive topsoil from farmlands that would otherwise have been lost for food production and caused environmental degradation. At the same time grain production in the area has been raised by more than 50%, largely benefiting small scale farmers.

Marine Environment
The Agency has been seeing increased Member State interest in using nuclear techniques to monitor and preserve the marine environment, including aspects related to seafood safety. For example, IAEA studies at our Marine Environment Laboratories in Monaco have improved knowledge of how cadmium, a toxic metal, accumulates in shellfish. Through collaboration with WHO and FAO this new knowledge is supporting international harmonization of standards for acceptable levels of cadmium in seafood, in order to enhance food safety and facilitate international trade.

The Agency´s Laboratories at Seibersdorf
From humble beginnings in September 1961, when the IAEA began leasing land from the Austrian Research Centre, the Agency´s Laboratories at Seibersdorf have grown to become a mainstay of the Agency´s scientific work. Roughly 170 staff members perform functions ranging from the coordination of analytical networks to the production of reference materials for science and trade, as well as nuclear material analyses in support of Agency verification. Around 100 fellows per year are trained in fields such as food and agriculture, environmental science and nuclear instrumentation.

Nuclear Safety and Security

The safety and security of nuclear activities around the globe remain key elements of the Agency´s mandate. With the renewed interest in nuclear power generation, comparable attention and commitment must be given to ensuring the nuclear safety and security infrastructure that must go with it.

Safety Culture and the Nuclear Safety Regime
The primary responsibility for safety rests with the operator of a nuclear facility or the user of a nuclear technique, as well as with the national government overseeing that operation or use. Technology can be transferred, but safety culture cannot; it must be learned and embedded. For those countries embarking on nuclear power programmes, it is essential that they become part of the global nuclear safety regime and share responsibility for its sustainability.

The strong, steady safety performance of recent years is reassuring. But as I have said repeatedly, nuclear safety is not an issue that can ever be regarded as "fixed". Nor can safety management be "outsourced". Members States must realize clearly that an adherence to safety principles - including transparency and open communication - is in their best interest and vital to a successful nuclear programme. Complacency, an overemphasis on cost savings, the impulse to cover up problems, or even falsification are hazards against which both operators and regulators must constantly guard. The recurrence of events with these characteristics makes clear that the promotion of a strong safety culture should always be viewed as a "work in progress".

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

Under the Early Notification and Assistance Conventions, the IAEA´s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) serves as the global focal point for international preparedness, communication and response to nuclear and radiological incidents or emergencies. In March 2007, the IEC was activated to basic response mode in reaction to a bomb threat against the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden, facilitating information exchange during the event.

The Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) now has 60 Contracting Parties, including all countries with operating nuclear power plants. The CNS sets international benchmarks for all phases of nuclear safety; the Parties subscribe to these benchmarks and report on their performance. As requested at the Third Review Meeting in 2005, the Agency has prepared and made available to the Contracting Parties a report summarizing significant nuclear safety issues, developments and trends. This summary draws on Agency safety review services performed during 2004, 2005 and 2006. The next CNS review meeting will take place next April.

Membership in the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management has increased from 41 to 45 Contracting Parties, which together cover more than 95% of the world´s radioactive waste inventory. Given the relevance of this convention to all countries with nuclear activities, I would urge all of them to ratify this convention at an early date.

Safety Standards
The quality and relevance of the IAEA safety standards reflects an international consensus on what constitutes a high level of safety. The standards are increasingly recognized, adopted and implemented by Member States. Feedback from this broader application will be incorporated into the evolutionary improvement of the standards. The Commission on Safety Standards is continuing to work on the long term vision for the body of safety standards.

Revision began early this year on the International Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources, known as the BSS. As cautioned by the General Conference last year, the revision process is avoiding changes to the BSS that are not clearly warranted and necessary. A first draft of the revised BSS was reviewed by a technical meeting in Vienna in July.

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. Last year we began offering, for the first time, an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), which combined previous services ranging from nuclear safety and radiation safety to emergency preparedness and nuclear security.

The Agency conducted the first full scope IRRS in France in November 2006, covering all regulated nuclear and radiation facilities, activities and practices, including nuclear power plants, research reactors, fuel cycle facilities, medical practices, industrial and research activities, waste facilities, decommissioning, remediation and transport. The French Nuclear Safety Authority requested that the mission also cover public information practices. In March, the French Government hosted a workshop, attended by representatives from over 30 countries, so that regulators of other Member States could learn more about the IRRS and experience gained during the mission. The Agency also conducted IRRS missions to Australia and Japan in June 2007. The Spanish Nuclear Safety Council has offered to organize the next workshop, in late 2008 or early 2009, to disseminate information on the results of IRRS missions conducted in 2007 and 2008.

With its modular approach, the IRRS is contributing towards a more active exchange of knowledge among senior regulators and harmonized regulatory approaches worldwide. Future missions are also scheduled for Canada, Germany, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Spain, Ukraine and the USA. I would request all countries to take advantage of this service.

I should also mention that, following the recent earthquake that affected the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, the Agency dispatched a team of international experts at the request of the Japanese Government. The mission´s findings and the Japanese analyses of the event include important lessons learned - both positive and negative - that will be relevant to other nuclear plants worldwide.

Regional Safety Networks
Regional safety networks can assist in sharing knowledge and experience in nuclear and radiation safety. The Asian Nuclear Safety Network has continued to expand its range of activities and geographical coverage. The Ibero-American Radiation Safety Network held its 2007 Plenary Meeting in Mexico in July, with the participation of Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay. Our long term vision is to connect existing and new networks in a sustainable global nuclear safety network.

International Nuclear Safety Group
The International Nuclear Safety Group continues to provide authoritative advice and guidance on current and emerging issues in nuclear safety. In his recent letter to me, the INSAG Chairman, Dr. Richard Meserve, gave particular emphasis to safety considerations relevant to the expectations of growth in nuclear power. These include: ensuring the existence of a strong infrastructure in countries entering the nuclear power arena; strengthening international mechanisms for feedback of operational experience; and the need for more effort to build up a cadre of skilled nuclear professionals to meet workforce requirements. He also highlighted the benefit of moving forward with a multinational design evaluation programme, to harmonize international safety approaches and regulatory requirements. As the supply of nuclear components, designs and expertise becomes increasingly globalized, this harmonization is essential to ensuring continuing high standards of safety in construction and operation.

Radiological Protection of Patients
Fifteen additional Member States have begun participating in projects on the radiological protection of patients for the 2007-2008 cycle. In many Member States, surveys of patient radiation doses have begun, to compare doses with established international standards. Some Member States have reported considerable dose reductions without affecting diagnostic and treatment quality. The Agency´s web site for radiological protection of patients, which is updated monthly, is receiving consistent attention and use by health professionals and the public.

The programme for training interventional cardiologists in radiation protection has gained new momentum with the establishment of an Asian network of cardiologists. The network has begun arranging training activities in national and regional cardiology conferences.

Safety of Transport of Radioactive Material
As recommended by the General Conference, the Secretariat initiated a dialogue with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe with a view to harmonizing the Transport Regulations with the UN´s Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. We also continue to consult closely with the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization to ensure a harmonized approach. Based on the results of this latest dialogue, the Commission on Safety Standards has approved a roadmap for publishing a new edition of the Transport Regulations in 2009.

In recent years, the safety record for the transport of radioactive material has been strong. However, denials of shipments of radioactive material continue to occur. The International Steering Committee constituted to help address this issue held its first meeting last November. A regional workshop was also held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in July, and others are being planned for the Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. These workshops are aimed at sensitizing persons involved in transport operations - from both industry and regulatory bodies - about the need to resolve local problems such as overlapping regulations, perception issues and training needs, and to facilitate the interaction among organizations. In addition, we have established new communication channels to ensure the involvement of the IMO and ICAO in solving particular cases.

Nuclear Liability Regime
The work of the International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability (INLEX) continued during 2007. At its meeting in June, the Group identified further specific actions to address possible gaps in the scope and coverage of relevant liability instruments.

I should emphasize that the nuclear liability regime is far from universal. Out of 439 nuclear power plants, 229 are not covered by any nuclear liability instrument - and some of the countries in which nuclear power is projected to expand the most are the same countries that remain outside the liability regime. I would urge all Member States to work together to address this issue.

The number of nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities reaching the end of their lifetimes is continuously increasing - as well as the number of research reactors, medical, industrial and other small nuclear facilities to be decommissioned. As such, decommissioning is evolving from a small scale activity to a large scale industry. Last December, a conference was held in Athens to provide a forum to exchange knowledge and good practices on all aspects of decommissioning. The forum highlighted the importance of sharing the experience of ongoing decommissioning work, including to countries with small programmes.

To support this effort the Agency is launching an International Decommissioning Network to improve the flow of information from recognized "centres of excellence" in decommissioning to those who can benefit from its application. This Network will increase the opportunities for hands-on experience in demonstration projects.

A coherent set of decommissioning safety standards has also been developed. Experience in the application of these standards will be shared with new programmes, and review services will be made available to Member States on their decommissioning strategies.

In February 2006, the Agency began a project to assist the Government of Iraq in the evaluation and decommissioning of the former facilities that used radioactive materials. With the assistance of Germany, Italy, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the USA, the project has moved forward with drafting a nuclear law and regulations, assembling available radiological data, and preparing for further work that will be necessary to develop a decommissioning plan.

Emergency Response
In 2006, the third edition of the IAEA Response Assistance Network (RANET) was published, reflecting a new and broader operational concept for the network. RANET supports the provision of international assistance in the case of a radiological event, and the harmonization of assistance from Member States. To support an effective international response, Member States are encouraged to register under RANET.

In 2006, the Agency published the Manual for First Responders to a Radiological Emergency under its Emergency Preparedness and Response Series. A unified system for incident and emergency communication was also developed, and was endorsed by the competent authorities in July of this year.

Nuclear Security and the Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism
The international community has taken on board a variety of international instruments relevant to nuclear security. The rapid entry into force of the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism is a welcome step forward. However, progress on ratifying the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, remains slow. Out of 128 States Parties, only 11 so far have accepted the amendment. I would urge all States Parties to do so.

The Agency´s nuclear security programme has maintained its rapid pace of programme delivery. Implementation activities in 2006 increased considerably over the previous year and the indications are that implementation will again be high in 2007.

The Agency is foreseen as playing an important role in the implementation of these instruments. To that end, we have started an effort to provide nuclear security guidance that would facilitate implementation. This and other programme changes entail transitioning from a situation in which strengthening nuclear security has been addressed as an ad hoc reaction to the prevailing threat of nuclear terrorism to a situation in which nuclear security will be addressed in a normative, sustainable manner.

Over the past 12 months, we have continued to expand participation in the Illicit Trafficking Database programme. We can now count 95 States as voluntary participants in the programme. We have enhanced our information bank on illicit nuclear trafficking and we are increasingly using the results of analysis of this information as feedback to better target assistance to States to improve their nuclear security. We continue to register a high number of trafficking cases - 171 new confirmed cases during the previous year, almost 30% having a criminal context. We have enhanced our cooperation with Interpol, both on information and on use of detection equipment, and to cooperate with other international organizations such as the World Customs Organization and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. I would urge all Member States to participate in the Illicit Trafficking Database programme.

The Agency assisted in improving physical protection at facilities in nine States over the past year, helping to fix weaknesses in security systems at those facilities. We have also begun a project to help improve the security of research reactors that were supplied through IAEA assistance, and we have started to address the security of transports of radioactive materials. Abandoned and disused radioactive sources have been brought to secure storage, and protection has been strengthened at storage locations.

We have been able to assist 29 countries to improve their border detection capability with handheld and fixed radiation detection instruments. At the same time we have trained all related staff in how to detect smuggling and how to use the instruments.

Major public events present a vulnerability from a nuclear security viewpoint. The Agency has provided expert support to organize the security of major public events, including preparations this past July in Brazil for the Pan American Games, and ongoing preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Training is an important part of this support.

In fact, education and training is becoming an increasingly important part of the programme. During the past year, training has been given to roughly 1650 individuals from 90 countries. We are streamlining this effort and taking steps to facilitate delivery of regional training, in part by establishing Nuclear Security Support Centres.

Planning, coordination and cooperation for an individual country merge in the development of Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plans. These plans, which have been completed for 38 countries, serve as a major tool for effective coordination with other support programmes.

The Agency´s nuclear security work has clearly improved overall nuclear security. But much remains to be done in shaping the nuclear security framework, in building up-to-date security systems and in dealing with the legacy of past lax security. This is not a problem that can be solved overnight; it takes time and resources to achieve a sustainable, internationally acceptable level of nuclear security.

To enhance programme effectiveness and ensure the efficient use of resources, the Secretariat is devoting increasing effort to the coordination of our activities with those of other organizations. We have developed a methodology to prioritize further nuclear security activities and to improve programme management. And we have embarked on a more systematic approach to programme evaluation, the results of which will ensure in particular that the nuclear security training programme is tailored to the needs of recipients.

Nuclear Verification

The nuclear non-proliferation and arms control regime continues to face a broad set of challenges. Recent years have underscored the importance of the Agency´s role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Effective verification must be supported by four essential elements: adequate legal authority; state-of-the-art technology; access to all relevant information; and sufficient human and financial resources.

Status of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
The number of States with safeguards agreements and additional protocols continues to increase. Since last year´s General Conference, additional protocols have entered into force for Kazakhstan, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

It is now more than ten years since the Model Additional Protocol was approved by the Board of Governors. Just over half of the 162 States with safeguards agreements now have additional protocols in force. This includes more than two thirds of the countries with nuclear material under safeguards. But I would not call this satisfactory progress. More than 100 States have yet to conclude additional protocols, and 31 States party to the NPT have not even brought into force their required comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency.

I repeat that without safeguards agreements, the Agency cannot provide any assurance about a State´s nuclear activities, and without the additional protocol, the Agency cannot provide credible assurance regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material or activity. I would therefore urge all States who have not done so to bring into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol.

Since the last General Conference, five more States have amended their small quantities protocols (SQPs) to reflect the revised standardized text, and another country has rescinded its SQP. This means that out of the 90 States to which the IAEA has proposed the amendment to their SQPs, a total of only 11 have agreed to the amendments. I would hope that the remaining SQP States would do so as soon as possible.

The Safeguards Implementation Report and Safeguards Statement for 2006
In 2006, the Agency implemented safeguards agreements in 162 States, 75 of which also had additional protocols in force or otherwise applied. For 32 of these 75 States, the Agency was able to conclude that all nuclear material remained in peaceful activitie.

The Agency is working towards drawing the same conclusion with respect to all other States with comprehensive safeguards agreements and additional protocols in force. At this stage, however, for those States as well as for States without additional protocols in force, the Secretariat could only conclude that declared nuclear material remained in peaceful activities.

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 of July 2007, integrated safeguards were being implemented in 17 States.

We are continuing to implement 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 - integrated safeguards have been implemented for spent fuel transfers at multi-unit nuclear power stations, bringing substantial savings in inspection effort. Emphasis is now being place on the other stages of the fuel cycle.

Verification Activities in Iraq
On 29 June, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1762, which inter alia, terminated the mandates of UNMOVIC and the IAEA in Iraq under relevant resolutions. Safeguards in Iraq will therefore continue to be implemented in Iraq under its NPT obligations. As the security situation permits, the Agency will work with Iraq to provide assurance that all nuclear material has been accounted for and that all nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea
At the March Board meeting, I reported that I had received an invitation from the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to visit the DPRK to "develop the relations between the DPRK and the Agency, as well as to discuss problems of mutual concerns". I also reported at the time that China, in its capacity as Chairman of the Six-Party Talks, had notified the Secretariat of the "initial actions for the implementation of the joint statement" adopted in Beijing on 13 February. These actions provided for, inter alia, the DPRK shutting down and sealing, for the purposes of eventual abandonment, its Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility - as well as the return of IAEA personnel to conduct the necessary monitoring and verification as agreed by the IAEA and the DPRK.

At the invitation of the DPRK, an Agency team visited in June to work out agreed modalities for verification and monitoring by the IAEA of the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. These modalities were implemented in subsequent visits. As of 17 July, we have been able to verify the DPRK´s shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the nuclear fuel fabrication plant, the radiochemical laboratory, the 5 megawatt experimental nuclear power plant, and the 50 megawatt nuclear power plant - as well as the 200 megawatt nuclear power plant in Taechon.

I welcome the return of the DPRK to the verification process. I also welcome the active cooperation the IAEA team has received from the DPRK. The Agency looks forward to continuing to work with the DPRK as the verification process evolves.

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Regarding the implementation of Agency safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran, I would make four brief points.

First, the Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has continued to provide the access and reporting needed to enable Agency verification in this regard.

Second, Iran has provided the Agency with additional information and access needed to resolve a number of long outstanding issues, such as the scope and nature of past plutonium experiments.

Third, contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, calling on Iran to take certain confidence building measures, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, and is continuing with its construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak. This is regrettable.

Fourth, while the Agency so far has been unable to verify certain important aspects relevant to the scope and nature of Iran´s nuclear programme, Iran and the Secretariat agreed last month on a work plan for resolving all outstanding verification issues. These verification issues are at the core of the lack of confidence about the nature of Iran´s programme, and are what prompted actions by the Security Council. Iran´s agreement on such a work plan, with a defined timeline, is therefore an important step in the right direction. Naturally, Iran´s active cooperation and transparency is the key to full and timely implementation of the work plan. If the Agency were able to provide credible assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran´s past and current nuclear programme, this would go a long way towards building confidence about Iran´s nuclear programme, and could create the conditions for a comprehensive and durable solution.

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. The absence of such a zone reflects a major gap in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. However, I regret to say that, as in the past, I have no progress to report 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. Consultations with concerned States of the region did not produce an agreement on the agenda for such a forum, a forum that in my view would be a positive step forward towards the initiation of dialogue among the concerned parties on this major issue. I naturally remain ready to convene this forum, if and when the concerned States are able to reach agreement on how to move forward, and I will continue to encourage them to do so.

Member State Support Programmes
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Member State Support Programmes to the Department of Safeguards. I am pleased to report that China is the newest country to have established such a programme, raising the total number of support programmes to 21.

Safeguards Technology Needs
For the Agency to be prepared to address ongoing verification challenges and continuous evolution in technology, we must be able to make use of advanced information sources, improved analytical tools and processes, and staff with specialized analysis skills. The IAEA Safeguards Information System (ISIS) re-engineering project, which began in July 2005, is aimed at producing by 2009 a fully integrated safeguards information system, which will significantly upgrade our current capabilities. Bringing this ambitious project to completion will require continued Member State support.

In addition, we must have the safeguards analytical equipment in our laboratories necessary for independent analysis, and we must have ongoing support from Member States in order to "stay ahead of the technology game". This means supporting continual R&D on equipment and techniques that will enable us both to improve our analysis of declared nuclear material and to better detect undeclared nuclear material and activities.

Technical Cooperation Programme

Fifty years ago, the Agency´s technical cooperation programme - or the technical assistance programme, as it was then known - looked very different. The scale of the programme was small, and projects generally had a duration of less than a year. Member States lacked basic nuclear capacities, and the programme focused on building up nuclear expertise and helping give birth to the institutions and facilities that would support the safe introduction of nuclear technology. Most project activities centred on the provision of expert advisory services and specialized equipment.

Today the picture has changed, due to the evolution of skills, infrastructure and needs in the Member States themselves. Member State priorities are now focused on the use of nuclear techniques for sustainable social and economic development, including addressing the lack of medical care for the poor, food scarcity and malnutrition, access to energy, water and other resources, and environmental degradation.

Several Member States are leaving behind their developing country status. The development of nuclear capacities and infrastructure in some regions has paved the way for South-South cooperation, stimulating an increase in regional self-sufficiency and an expansion in collective, specialized expertise. Opportunities for cooperative ventures - such as shared multinational management of common underground water aquifers, transborder programmes for the elimination of disease vectors such as insect pests, and jointly owned and managed nuclear power plants - are coming to the drawing board, adding new significance to technical cooperation. These are positive trends.

Better Planning, Better Delivery
The development and management of TC activities are supported by the web-based Programme Cycle Management Framework, or PCMF. At the national level, Country Programme Frameworks (CPFs) are the roadmaps for achievement: they set out national priority areas, agreed upon between the Agency and Member States, and have become a primary planning mechanism for ensuring sustained impact. Given their benefits, CPFs should be viewed as a standard feature of national TC programmes. Currently, 82 Member States have signed CPFs, while another 20 are at the draft stage.

The role of National Liaison Officers (NLOs) has been receiving greater emphasis. When most effective, an NLO acts as a communications hub for Agency activities in a country, networking with the development community, leading IAEA-associated strategic planning and facilitating solutions to programme and project challenges. We are currently working with Member States to develop more precise descriptions of NLO roles and responsibilities.

TC Financial Issues
TC programme resources and delivery both showed robust growth in 2006. Contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund (TCF) reached a record level. The rate of attainment reached its highest level ever, exceeding 93% by the end of the year. This demonstrates increased commitment by a growing number of Member States to pay their full share of the TCF target. I would urge all Member States to continue to pay their target share in full and on time.

The Secretariat is continuing to monitor the payment of National Participation Costs (NPCs). A number of projects were slowed in their initial implementation due to the non-payment of NPCs. So far this year, seven countries have not yet paid the minimum NPCs required to allow the initiation of important new projects. I would urge those countries to pay these small amounts, to enable the Agency to provide them with the full benefits of their national TC programmes.

Management of the Agency

Budgetary Matters
After prolonged discussions, the Board of Governors recommended in July a budget for 2008-2009. The Secretariat´s initial budgetary proposals had included a category of "essential investments" - large one-off infrastructure projects and expensive equipment, including for its laboratories - which had been deferred for years as a result of budgetary constraints. The budget now recommended to this Conference is significantly less than the Secretariat´s original proposal.

This process has once aga


Last update: 26 Nov 2019

Stay in touch