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Statement to the Forty-seventh Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference 2003

Vienna, Austria

 IAEA General Conference

The past year has been a time of significant challenges and achievements for the Agency. In the area of verification, the Agency has been at the centre of attention and has demonstrated again its ability to perform objective and credible safeguards - but we continue to face a number of difficult and unresolved situations. In the area of safety and security, we see overall improvement and our work is making a difference, but much remains to be done. In the technology area, the Agency is contributing to sustainable development through its technical co-operation (TC) programme - with the benefits of nuclear applications increasingly recognized - but more partnerships are needed to optimize the use of these valuable technologies. And while nuclear power continues to hold great potential as a clean source of energy, it remains in a holding position due to a number of associated concerns.

Today is an opportunity for me to review with you in more detail some of the Agency’s activities in each of these areas.

Nuclear Power Technology

Nuclear Power: Current Status and Outlook
The contribution of nuclear power to world electricity production has been stable, remaining at about 16% for the past few years. The world electricity market has been growing continuously during this period - at an average of 2.8% per year - and the growth in nuclear electricity generation has kept pace. Six new reactors were added to the grid in 2002, offsetting the retirement of four reactors during the year. This increased production has been complemented by further increases in on-line availability for nuclear power plants - as the result of better operational and outage management practices.

Looking ahead in the near term, there are now 33 reactors under construction, 20 of which are in the Far East or South Asia. In other regions, the more immediate focus is on power upgrades, restarts of previously shutdown reactors, and licence extensions. Sixteen reactors in the United States of America have had their operating licences extended to 60 years, with many more applications under review. The Russian Federation and a number of other countries are also beginning programmes of licence extension. The Agency manages a range of activities to assist interested Member States in various aspects of licence extension, including outage optimization strategies, outage performance indicators, predictive maintenance, modification of technical specifications and ageing management.

Medium term projections for nuclear power are, however, uncertain. Most studies predict that nuclear power generation will continue to increase in the near term, but Agency and other projections show the nuclear share falling to about 12% of global production by 2030. According to a recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, even if nuclear power were only to maintain its current share of the world electricity market, this would require the construction of 700 new 1000 MW reactors by the year 2050 - nearly double the current nuclear capacity.

But any major increase in the number of nuclear reactors will require the nuclear community to meet a number of challenges: achieving advances in innovative and evolutionary technology; meeting concerns about waste, proliferation, safety and security; and demonstrating new nuclear energy applications outside the electricity sector, such as hydrogen production and seawater desalination. I will briefly note a number of Agency activities relevant to these challenges.

Nuclear Power: Evolutionary and Innovative Approaches
Nearly 20 Member States are currently involved in national and international projects for the development of evolutionary and innovative reactor and fuel cycle designs, as well as accelerator driven systems. A number of countries are also exploring the use of nuclear reactors for the co-generation of hydrogen - which could make a substantial contribution to demands for cleaner energy in the transportation sector - and the Agency’s co-ordinated research projects in this area are exploring technological options for hydrogen production from both high temperature gas reactors and evolutionary water cooled reactors. The Agency has technical working groups focused on each reactor type - including water, gas and liquid metal cooled reactors - to provide a forum among interested Member States for information exchange, collaborative assessment and co-operative research. The role of innovation as a factor critical to the future of nuclear power, and the status of global efforts in this area, were highlighted at an international conference in June on innovative technologies for the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear power.

The Agency’s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) published its final report on Phase 1A in June. The report defined “user requirements” in five areas - economics, environmental impacts, safety, waste management and proliferation resistance - for incorporation into nuclear R&D projects. The report provided an assessment method for applying INPRO’s user requirements to specific innovative nuclear concepts and designs.

Nuclear Power: Addressing Waste and Fuel Cycle Concerns
Regarding the long term management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, we are seeing slow but steady progress. In Finland and the USA, efforts are continuing towards the construction of geologic repositories at Olkiluoto and Yucca Mountain, based on approvals of the respective Governments. In Canada, the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act came into force this past November; this requires the owners of spent fuel to develop a management and disposal plan within three years. In Europe, the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport of the European Commission recently proposed a directive that would require Member States of the European Union to decide on repository sites by 2008 and to have the sites operational by 2018. In July, Russia took steps to implement a new law allowing the storage and reprocessing of foreign spent fuel, and a number of Asian countries have begun work on siting programmes and the characterization of potential sites for underground repositories for high level radioactive waste.

Technology advances are also underway in the waste area. Ongoing R&D activities in France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA are seeking to use accelerator driven systems to incinerate and transmute long lived waste, in order to reduce the volume and radiotoxicity of waste to be sent to geologic repositories. The Agency is supporting this area of research through co-ordinated research projects, information exchange in technical working groups and topical meetings, database support and training.

In June, at a major Agency conference on power reactor fuel storage, a number of organizations made clear that they are considering the extension of spent fuel storage times to 100 years or longer. This will require more advanced storage technologies, assessments of the safety implications of extended storage, the extension of storage licences for existing facilities, and sustainable institutional frameworks. We expect increasing demand for Agency assistance, therefore, as spent fuel accumulates and requirements expand for storage.

The number of successfully completed decommissioning projects is steadily increasing, together with confidence in the feasibility of safe decommissioning. Some Member States choose to immediately dismantle their nuclear facilities, while others continue to opt for long term safe enclosure and delayed dismantling. This choice depends on considerations such as the availability of waste disposal sites, spent fuel storage options, financial resources and radiological exposure. Based on currently licensed operating periods, the number of decommissioned reactors either being dismantled or awaiting dismantling is expected to grow to about 160 over the next 7–10 years. The Agency continues to provide technical assistance to ongoing decommissioning projects in Bulgaria, China, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia and Ukraine, and provides relevant safety standards and technical guidance. We expect to see an increasing demand for Agency assistance in this area as well in the next few years.

Nuclear Power: Building Capacity in Member States
Almost two billion people - nearly one third of the population of the planet - remain without access to modern energy supplies. The Agency’s recognition of this situation underlies our assistance to interested Member States in conducting comparative assessments of energy options, to understand whether and when nuclear power would be an optimal source of energy, and to support the development of infrastructure and capability in those countries that decide to proceed with the nuclear power option. An initial country profile on sustainable energy development in Brazil is nearing completion, and we are also embarking on a similar profile for South Africa.

Nuclear Knowledge Management: a Cross-Cutting Issue
Whether or not nuclear power witnesses an expansion in the coming decades, it is essential that we preserve nuclear scientific and technical competence for the safe operation of existing facilities and applications. Effective management of nuclear knowledge should include succession planning for the nuclear work force, the maintenance of the ‘nuclear safety case’ for operational reactors, and retention of the nuclear knowledge accumulated over the past six decades.

This is a growing concern for many of our Member States, and is a topic that relates to all areas of Agency activity. Two pilot projects are already underway, one to preserve knowledge on fast reactors and a second to build a knowledge base on high temperature gas cooled reactors. The establishment of an Asian network for higher education in nuclear technology will be used to pool, analyse and share regional nuclear knowledge and experience, and an Asian nuclear safety network is already doing the same for safety knowledge and experience; both are envisaged to serve as models for other regional networks for nuclear knowledge management. And a substantial area of Agency activity involves assisting Member States with capacity building and human resources development - through education programmes, hands on training, and knowledge transfer - in ways best suited to their desired uses of nuclear technology.

The launch of the World Nuclear University (WNU) earlier this month in London, at the annual symposium of the World Nuclear Association, is in my view a positive development. The WNU will essentially consist of a global network of established academic institutions and research centres with programmes in nuclear science and engineering. The key objectives will be to foster co-operation for mutual benefit among these institutions, and to promote a broader appreciation - particularly among students choosing career paths - of the opportunities available in nuclear vocations. The Agency plans to participate in WNU studies on various aspects of nuclear education and training, and we will endeavour to maximize the accessibility of WNU courses to students from Member States.

International Co-operation on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Before leaving my discussion of nuclear power and the nuclear fuel cycle, I should mention that both the INPRO report and other studies have stressed the fact that the area of fuel cycle design and operation may face a number of critical choices for the future, in part to address proliferation and waste management concerns. This is an important issue that has been discussed over the years, but in my view now merits serious consideration, as part of our effort to cope with the increasing non-proliferation, safety, security and technical challenges facing nuclear power. Such a consideration should include the merits of limiting the use of weapons usable material (plutonium and high enriched uranium) in civilian nuclear programmes, by permitting it only under multilateral control. Similarly, we should also consider limiting the processing of such material - and the production of new material through reprocessing and enrichment - to international centres. These limitations would need to be accompanied by appropriate rules of transparency, control and above all assurance of supply. It is clear that strengthened control of weapons usable material is key to our efforts to strengthen non-proliferation and enhance security.

Our consideration should also include the merits of multinational approaches to the management and disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste. Not all countries have the appropriate conditions for geologic disposal - and, for many countries with small nuclear programmes for electricity generation or for research, the financial and human resource investments required for research, construction and operation of a geologic disposal facility are daunting. Considerable economic, safety, security and non-proliferation advantages may therefore accrue from international co-operation on the construction and operation of international waste repositories. In my view, the merits and feasibility of these and other approaches to the design and management of the nuclear fuel cycle should be given in-depth consideration. The convening of an Agency group of experts could be a useful first step.

Nuclear Power: Looking Ahead
Next year will mark 50 years since electricity generated by nuclear power was first connected to a national grid, in Obninsk, Russia, in June 1954. I believe it is important to review the achievements and the lessons learned from 50 years of nuclear power generation - a topic that will be the focus of an international conference under Agency auspices in Obninsk next June. Later in 2004, we also plan to hold a conference at the ministerial level in Paris, to examine the policies and prospects for nuclear energy in the 21st century.

The choice of whether to use nuclear power remains a national prerogative. The Agency’s statutory role, however, is to foster safety, security and technological development, to support efforts to ensure the continued availability of nuclear energy for those who want to make use of it.

In the coming year, the Agency will focus on a number of high priority issues related to nuclear power: supporting innovative approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle; promoting quality assurance; assisting Member States with energy planning assessments; promoting research, training and other forms of co-operation on waste management; assisting Member State with their licence extension and decommissioning efforts; supporting new nuclear energy uses; and improving the management of nuclear knowledge.

Non-Power Nuclear Applications

A major part of the Agency’s technology related activity is focused on the sharing and transfer of nuclear technology in applications other than nuclear power. Under both the regular budget and technical co-operation programmes, many of these applications are gaining increasing importance as tools for social and economic development. Our approach continues to be needs driven, guided by comparative assessments to ensure that nuclear technologies are used only when they provide the best solution.

Human Health
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of new cancer cases in the developing world is expected to double to ten million annually by 2015, as life expectancy increases and lifestyles change. However, most developing countries do not have enough health professionals or radiotherapy machines to treat their cancer patients safely and effectively. Indeed, some 15 African nations and several countries in Asia lack even one radiation therapy machine. And in many cases the safety and regulatory infrastructure must be built up considerably before the relevant equipment - and the associated radioactive sources - can be safely and securely transferred.

The Agency provides training, expert missions and equipment to support national and regional efforts to improve cancer therapy and other human health programmes, working with key partners such as WHO. A highly visible result of Agency support through TC projects across Africa has been an increase of approximately 35%, over the past five years, in the number of cancer patients receiving treatment in participating countries of the African Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) - an increase of approximately 6500 patients per year. In addition, Agency training has led to a reduction in machine downtime and helped to improve the managerial skills of radiation oncologists and radiographers, which in turn has lowered the overall cost of treatment.

The Agency also has a number of key initiatives related to nuclear medicine. Over the past year, in West Asia alone, five nuclear medicine courses were held to provide specialized training for more than 100 physicians and technologists from the region. In Albania, with the Agency’s support, the first technetium-99m radiopharmaceutical kits were produced locally last year, for use in Albanian hospitals. And we have been working hard to develop advanced information and communication tools that can promote broader access to nuclear medicine in developing countries. A ‘tele-nuclear-medicine’ link has been established between Namibia, South Africa and Zambia, to facilitate remote diagnosis and treatment, and another such link is being established among 15 countries in Latin America. We have also developed an Internet based training programme that will be made available to all nuclear medicine professionals in developing countries.

Water Resources Management
Improving the availability of the world’s water resources is recognized as an area of crucial importance for development. More than one sixth of the world’s population lives in areas without adequate access to safe drinking water - a situation that is expected to worsen significantly unless the international community takes prompt and effective action. Isotope hydrology is being used, in more than 80 TC projects, to map underground aquifers, manage surface water and groundwater, detect and control pollution, and monitor dam leakage and safety. An ongoing regional isotope hydrology project in Latin America has brought together more than 30 water institutes to address water shortages, with the successful completion of conceptual models for a total of seven aquifers in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru. In Yemen, the Agency has assisted with the assessment of the deep and shallow groundwater system in the region of the Sana’a basin. In Africa, Member States have requested a number of sub-regional projects related to shared aquifers, such as the sustainable development and equitable use of the common water resources of the Nile Basin, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, the Iullemeden Aquifer and the North Western Sahara Aquifer.

The Agency is also supporting Member State efforts to explore desalination of seawater using nuclear energy. At the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant in Pakistan, a reverse osmosis facility has been in service since 2000, producing about 450 cubic metres of fresh water per day. In India, at the Kalpakkam nuclear power plant, a desalination plant designed to produce 6300 cubic metres of fresh water per day is undergoing commissioning. And in the Republic of Korea, a design has been developed for a nuclear desalination plant, using the SMART reactor, which would supply 40 000 cubic metres of fresh water per day and 90 MW of electricity.

Plant Mutation and Breeding
For many years, the Agency has been working with Member States on mutation breeding of major food crops, and we are now seeing important results emerging in the form of commercial crops. One example is the improvement in rice varieties in Asia and the Pacific region; following trials for mutant varieties of rice in nine Asian countries, we were able to identify many strains that yield very well in different ecological conditions. Last month in Indonesia, Members of Parliament attended a harvesting ceremony to recognize the positive and sustained economic impact of a variety of rice with higher yield and better quality, produced using gamma rays, which has successfully been introduced in 20 Indonesian provinces. We anticipate the release of at least seven new varieties of rice in the region during the next three to five years. A regional TC project completed last year has also brought new, valuable mutated germplasm - the basic genetic material for plant breeding - to 12 countries of Asia and the Pacific region.

Sterile Insect Technique
In past years I have reported extensively to the General Conference on our efforts to use the sterile insect technique (SIT) to control the tsetse fly in Africa - and our work in that area is continuing. I would also note, however, our success with using SIT against other insect pests. For example, over the past six years, the Agency has been collaborating with authorities in Thailand in combating the oriental fruit fly, and recently the Guava fruit fly, by integrating SIT with other monitoring and control methods.

De-mining
In the area of humanitarian de-mining, the PELAN fast neutron mine detection system was field tested last year in Croatia, in co-operation with scientific staff from the Croatian Mine Action Centre. Testing showed that the device could reliably identify certain sizes of mines at various depths under the soil in dry conditions, but more work has to be done to enable reliable detection of the smaller anti?personnel mines and for detecting mines in wet soil conditions.

The Agency’s Laboratories
The laboratories at Seibersdorf continue to support Agency programmes related to agriculture, human health, nuclear instrumentation, water resources, radiation protection and safety, and safeguards. The laboratory also continues to provide assistance to Member States in the calibration of dosimeters for national standards laboratories, and audit services to ensure the reliability of radiation doses delivered in radiotherapy hospitals and research institutes worldwide. Annually, we perform about 60 system calibrations and 400 dosimeter checks for hospital radiotherapy beams, in addition to training dozens of medical physicists.

This year we also inaugurated a small mosquito rearing laboratory at Seibersdorf, to develop SIT technology for malaria-transmitting mosquitoes - including mass rearing techniques, radiation sterilization strategies and the development of genetic sexing strains. Several years of research will be needed before extensive field trials will be practicable.

In the near future, we intend to introduce terrestrial radioecology programmes at Seibersdorf, to create urgently needed capacity for the assessment and remediation of contaminated sites after both radioactive and conventional pollution.

Last November, the Agency’s new deep underground counting laboratory was inaugurated in Monaco, with additional funding from Japan and the Monagasque Government. The underground location reduces background interference from cosmic radiation and other sources, and allows significantly reduced measuring times and/or sample volumes, greatly enhancing the efficiency of both field sampling and laboratory work.

Co-ordinated Research Projects
Demand for participation in Agency co-ordinated research projects (CRPs) remains high, as a means of bringing together research institutes in developing and developed Member States to collaborate on topics of interest. Currently, the Agency spends about $6.4 million per year on 132 active CRPs, which cover most aspects of the technical work of the Agency, including cutting edge nuclear techniques related to liver cancer therapy, drug resistance, child health, the development of radiation modified crops for harsh environments, and - as part of recently expanded efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism - research to improve the sensitivity of instruments used to detect illicit trafficking of nuclear material.

Participation in a CRP helps Member States to understand the potential of a given nuclear application, and CRP results, such as those from research into new plant strains, often lead to TC project requests. In an effort to make the CRP system more transparent and accessible to Member State research institutions, we have developed a new interactive web site that provides much more information online to Member States. We are also continuing to introduce so-called ‘doctoral CRPs’, which pair young PhD students in developing countries with professors from research institutions in developed countries, thus combining educational and research objectives.

Future Challenges in Nuclear Applications
Looking forward, it is clear that we must increase our efforts to provide Member States and the public at large with objective information about the range of nuclear technologies available - to achieve a more balanced view of the benefits of nuclear energy - and using comparative assessments, where applicable, to enable Member States to make informed choices about how best to use these technologies to address development needs. Where applicable, we will pursue partnerships with other organizations when their technical expertise can enhance the benefit of a given nuclear application. And we will continue to pursue additional applications for isotope hydrology, improved global access to nuclear medicine and radiotherapy techniques, further research into plant strains adaptable to harsh environments, and the development of terrestrial radioecology techniques that can assist with the cleanup of nuclear legacy and other contaminated sites.

Nuclear Safety and Security

The safety and security of nuclear activities around the globe remain a key factor for the future of nuclear technology. It is gratifying to note that nuclear safety continues to improve at power plants worldwide, that more and more countries are raising their standards of performance in radiation protection, and that significant steps have been taken in the past two years to improve nuclear security. However, more work needs to be done, particularly as public demands for greater transparency and accountability on safety issues are widely voiced in many countries. The need for a more effective and transparent global nuclear safety and security regime, therefore, continues to be a high priority.

Recurring Events
The Agency actively promotes the sharing of nuclear facility operating information. National regulatory bodies and the nuclear power industry also actively share operating experience, and both the IAEA and the World Association of Nuclear Operators communicate the lessons learned from international experience through their peer review programmes. But despite continued efforts by the entire nuclear community to share lessons learned from events that have occurred in nuclear facilities throughout the world, incidents with similar root causes continue to recur - often with safety culture implications. This has been seen in Member States with both robust and evolving regulatory infrastructures, as evidenced by occurrences in recent years in countries such as France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Sweden and the USA. A focused commitment is needed to ensure that lessons learned in one country are effectively and thoroughly communicated to all countries, and that these lessons are incorporated into the operational and regulatory practices of all relevant nuclear facilities.

Safety of Research Reactors
Currently, over 270 research reactors are in operation around the world, more than 200 are shut down and nearly 170 have been decommissioned. The safety of research reactors and the associated management and disposal of research reactor fuel continue to be areas of Agency emphasis. In that regard, the USA in 1996 initiated efforts to have spent research reactor fuel of US origin returned to the USA for disposal, and I am pleased that efforts towards the same objective for research reactor fuel of Russian origin are being discussed. A broad Agency initiative in this area is the development of a Code of Conduct on the Safety of Research Reactors, which I intend to submit for the consideration of the Board in due time.

Status of International Conventions
The development and adoption of legally binding international agreements has proven to be a powerful mechanism for enhancing safety worldwide. One area of current focus is the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, for which the first review meeting starts in Vienna on 3 November 2003. Thirty-two contracting parties have submitted their own national reports, and are now reviewing and commenting on those of the other contracting parties. At the review meeting, they will discuss these reports and compile a summary of their observations and conclusions. This summary will provide a first snapshot of the state of the safety of spent fuel management and radioactive waste management in States party to the Convention. I would note, however, that many States are not yet contracting parties, and in that sense this snapshot will be far from global. All States, including those with no nuclear power plants or research reactors, have radioactive waste that must be managed safely. I would urge all States to adhere to the Convention.

Within the framework of co-operation established under the Early Notification and Assistance Conventions, the Agency completed missions to assist Bolivia, Ecuador, Nigeria and the United Republic of Tanzania with the recovery, characterization and securing of radioactive sources seized in illicit trafficking incidents. And in June, 55 Member States participated in the second meeting of representatives of competent authorities identified under these conventions - a step that I hope will begin the transformation of the emergency conventions from purely reactive to more proactive mechanisms for enhancing emergency preparedness and response.

The Convention on Nuclear Safety is now approaching its third review cycle. Contracting parties will need to submit their national reports by next September, in advance of the review meeting in April 2005. To assist in this process, and at the request of last year’s review meeting, the Agency is preparing a report for the contracting parties describing generic issues and trends in the safety of nuclear power reactors as identified by the Secretariat through our various services.

In the past two years, 20 additional States have become party to the 1979 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), making a total of 89 States parties. This increase reflects the importance being given to the CPPNM as part of the international nuclear security regime. In September 2001, I convened an open-ended group of legal and technical experts to prepare a draft amendment to the CPPNM. Finally, this past March, the group was able to adopt a report, which I have distributed to all States parties. The possible amendments identified in the report would extend the scope of the CPPNM to cover, inter alia, the physical protection of nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport, and the protection of nuclear material and facilities against sabotage. However, the prepared text still contains a number of bracketed clauses on which the group was not able to reach agreement. I would urge States parties to work rapidly towards consensus on these outstanding issues, in order to have a Diplomatic Conference to adopt the proposed amendments at an early date.

Establishment of Global Safety Standards
I am pleased to report good progress in the continuing revision and updating of Agency safety standards. Our aim is to complete our upgrades to all existing Agency standards by late next year. In addition, we hope to have filled in the remaining gaps in coverage - such as establishing internationally accepted safety standards on geologic waste repositories - and to implement a more coherent structure for the body of safety standards, over the next three to four years. Our aim is to have these standards accepted and implemented worldwide, as the global reference for protecting people and the environment.

Safety Services
The Agency’s safety review and appraisal services assist Member States in the application of IAEA safety standards, and provide useful feedback on their effectiveness. These services originated predominantly in the field of nuclear installation safety, but now extend to cover many areas of radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety as well. I should note that, in particular, safety services and assistance to countries of Central and Eastern Europe operating power reactors has been at the centre of the technical co-operation programmes of those countries for the past decade - resulting in a broad and significant positive impact on the operational safety of those facilities.

Demand for Agency services continues to be very strong; the Annual Report for 2002 lists more than 60 safety missions of various types to 29 States. Collectively, the results of the services constitute a substantial body of safety experience from around the world.

As part of the Agency’s efforts to enhance global safety, I should mention that I have reconstituted the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group with new terms of reference and membership, with the aim to have it as an authoritative source of recommendations and opinions on current and emerging safety issues in nuclear installations.

International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability
I should also mention that, with a view to fostering a global and effective nuclear liability regime, I have decided to establish an International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability (INLEX). The Group will serve three major functions, namely: to explore and provide expert advice on general issues relating to nuclear liability and the need to develop further the Agency’s nuclear liability regime; to promote global adherence by nuclear and non-nuclear States to this regime; and to assist Member States in developing and strengthening their national legal frameworks related to nuclear liability.

Safety of Transport of Radioactive Material
While the transport of spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive material has been conducted for decades successfully and without serious accidents, many Member States continue to express concern over the risks involved in maritime transport. As part of the Secretariat’s efforts to promote dialogue among Member States, a widely attended international conference was held here in Vienna in July. Most of the technical issues were successfully addressed during the conference; however, given the complexity of some topics - notably, nuclear liability and communications - not all areas of disagreement between Member States were resolved. The Agency will continue to promote constructive dialogue on these topics.

Transport Safety Appraisal Service (TranSAS) missions have been conducted this year to Turkey and Panama, and a pre-TranSAS visit was made to France. Together with previous missions to Brazil, Slovenia and the United Kingdom, the TranSAS service has now covered some of the key States involved in the maritime transport of radioactive material. I would hope that these missions can help to build confidence in the safety of international radioactive material transport, and that these successes will encourage other States - particularly those with large programmes for transporting radioactive material - to request this service.

Nuclear Security and Protection Against Nuclear Terrorism
Agency efforts to help Member States increase their nuclear security are continuing at an exceptionally fast pace on multiple fronts. Measures to prevent the theft of nuclear material and the sabotage of nuclear facilities remain a high Agency priority, and concerns about the threat of radiological terrorism have given increased emphasis to measures to improve the security of other radioactive material and to counter illicit trafficking.

Since September 2001, working in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, we have conducted a total of 40 advisory and evaluation missions, and convened a total of 60 training courses, workshops and seminars. A major international conference was held last October in Karlsruhe, Germany, focused on helping States to make use of advanced analytical methods for nuclear material seized in illicit trafficking incidents, and to improve co-ordination between the nuclear scientific community and the law enforcement community. International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions and follow-up missions were carried out in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine. Requests for eight additional IPPAS missions in Latin America, Europe and Asia are currently being processed. Regional training courses in physical protection were held in Asia, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, and similar courses are to be given in Africa and Latin America. One international course in the USA is taking place now, and another is planned for next month.

The identification and protection of vulnerabilities in nuclear installations is one area in which safety and security aspects merge. Workshops on safety measures contributing to the security of nuclear installations were held in Hungary, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey. On a related note, at an Agency conference in Rabat, Morocco earlier this month, Member States acknowledged the positive impact of the Agency Model Projects to upgrade national radiation protection infrastructures - but, in addition to noting the continuing need for radiation safety enhancements, asked for Agency guidance on how to reconcile the need for transparency, in matters of radiation safety, with the need for confidentiality, from a security perspective.

Evaluation missions have been held throughout Eastern Europe, Africa and Central America to assess Member State capabilities to detect nuclear and other radioactive material at their borders, and to help them respond to illicit trafficking. Significant progress has been made in developing and revising existing guidance to assist Member States in the development of emergency plans to respond to radiological emergencies resulting from malicious acts, and in the detection of and response to acts of illicit trafficking.

The Agency is also strengthening its co-operation with other international organizations, including the UN and its specialized agencies, Interpol, Europol, the Universal Postal Union and the European Commission. Activities in this regard include international conferences, training and exchange of information, as well as collaboration through interagency co-operation committees.

A total of nearly $23 million has been pledged to the Nuclear Security Fund in voluntary contributions from 21 countries and one donor organization, of which over $13 million has been received. Clearly, much more work remains to be done in this important area, and I encourage more and continued financial support.

Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources
Despite the increased level of attention given to the security of radioactive sources since September 2001, many countries still lack the programmes and the resources to properly respond to the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism. Information in the Agency database of illicit trafficking, combined with reports of discoveries of plans for radiological dispersal devices, makes it clear that there is a market for obtaining and using radioactive sources for malevolent purposes. Given the apparent readiness of terrorists to disregard their own safety, the personal danger from handling powerful radioactive sources can no longer be seen as an effective deterrent. Although fortunately there have been no instances of the use of a radiological dispersal device, it is clear that the potential for such devices must be guarded against.

These concerns were the focus of a major international conference held here in Vienna in March. The conference emphasized the need for the Agency to assist States with locating and securing orphaned radioactive sources, encourage the development of strong national regulatory oversight bodies and national source registries, provide training and assistance on improving border controls and preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, and promulgate guidance on how to strengthen these national and international efforts. Findings from the conference have been reflected in the revision of the action plan for the safety and security of radioactive sources and the revision of the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Sources - both of which were approved last week by the Board of Governors. Implementation of the action plan and the Code of Conduct will greatly improve safety and security in this area.

The three-way initiative by Russia, the USA and the Agency, which seeks to secure vulnerable radioactive sources within the countries of the former Soviet Union, has so far resulted in missions to the Republic of Moldova and Tajikistan, with further missions scheduled for seven additional countries. The Agency has also been working to assist developing countries in ensuring that sealed sources can be used and disposed of safely and securely. For example, we have assisted Angola, Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire in organizing the return of sealed sources to their manufacturers.

Future Challenges in Nuclear Safety and Security
While much has been achieved in the area of nuclear safety and security, I should conclude my review of this area by emphasizing the improvements still needed in remaining areas of apparent vulnerability - such as learning from recurring events, enhancing research reactor safety, continuing to enhance transport safety and tightening the control of radioactive sources. The strengthening of a global nuclear safety culture - characterized by broad adherence to existing safety conventions, the adoption of legally binding agreements for the remaining areas of nuclear activity, the universal application of the complete set of safety standards, and increased collaboration with relevant international organizations such as the OECD/NEA and WHO - will do much to address these vulnerabilities. And while the volume and scope of activities relevant to protection against nuclear terrorism demonstrate the Agency’s ability to respond rapidly and with flexibility to emerging priorities, it is clear that we must be able to sustain the pace of this effort if we are to be successful - particularly in the combating of illicit trafficking; the protection of nuclear installations and nuclear and other radioactive material from sabotage; and the response to threats that could lead to radiological emergencies.

Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation

The strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime is becoming more important than ever. Events of the past year have placed the regime under stress on multiple fronts, and have made it clear that concrete steps to strengthen the regime are urgently required. The Agency’s role as an independent, objective verification body remains central to the effectiveness of the regime.

Safeguards Implementation Report for 2002
In the Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR) for 2002, the Agency concludes that, in 145 States (and Taiwan, China) with safeguards agreements in force, with the exception of the nuclear material in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the nuclear material and other items placed under safeguards remained in peaceful use or were otherwise adequately accounted for. Moreover, in the case of 13 States having in force both a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol, the Agency, having found no indication of the existence of undeclared nuclear material or activities, was also able to provide broader assurance, concluding that all nuclear material in those States had been declared and remained under safeguards.

Status of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
In response to last year’s General Conference resolution, the Secretariat increased its efforts to promote the strengthened safeguards system through the conclusion of safeguards agreements and additional protocols. Regional seminars were held in Malaysia, Romania and Uzbekistan, with the financial support of Japan and the USA. These seminars were intended to deepen the understanding of participating State officials about the role of safeguards agreements and additional protocols in promoting global and regional non-proliferation and security objectives.

Since my statement at last year’s General Conference, safeguards agreements have entered into force for Burkina Faso and Georgia, and the validity of Albania’s comprehensive safeguards agreement under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was confirmed by an exchange of letters. Additional protocols entered into force for Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cyprus, Georgia, Jamaica, Kuwait and Mongolia. At this time, additional protocols have been signed with 76 States and have entered into force for 36 of those.

Clearly, the number of safeguards agreements and additional protocols in force remains well below expectations. Forty-seven States have yet to fulfil their legal obligations under the NPT to bring safeguards agreements with the Agency into force, and more than six years after the Board’s approval of the Model Additional Protocol, over 150 countries still do not have an additional protocol in force.

I strongly urge all States that have not done so to conclude and bring into force the required safeguards agreements and additional protocols at an early date. As I have repeatedly stated, without the conclusion of the required safeguards agreements, the Agency cannot provide any assurance about compliance by States with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. And without the additional protocol, the Agency can provide little to no assurances about the absence of undeclared material or activities. For the Agency to provide the required assurances, it must have the required authority.

Integrated Safeguards
Last year I reported to you that the conceptual framework for integrated safeguards was completed, meaning that the necessary safeguards concepts, approaches, guidelines and criteria were sufficiently developed to begin implementing integrated safeguards in States where the requisite safeguards conclusions had been drawn. As I have mentioned before, integrated safeguards aims to improve the effectiveness and cost efficiency of verification activities by integrating traditional nuclear material verification activities with new strengthening measures, particularly those of the additional protocol. We also continue to develop and improve our technological capability to detect undeclared nuclear materials and activities. At this point, integrated safeguards are being implemented in three States: Australia, Indonesia and Norway.

The first States in which integrated safeguards have been implemented have relatively small nuclear programmes. In the near future, we expect to begin implementing integrated safeguards in States with much larger nuclear programmes, including Canada, Hungary and Japan.

In this context, I should mention that I have recently initiated an evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of the safeguards strengthening measures we have been implementing. The evaluation will be undertaken by independent external evaluators, under the auspices of the Agency’s Office of Internal Oversight Services. I have also asked the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation (SAGSI) to undertake a focused technical review of the safeguards criteria.

Implementation of Safeguards in the DPRK
The situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continues to pose a serious and immediate challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

As I have reported repeatedly to the Board, since 1993 the Agency has been unable to implement fully its comprehensive NPT safeguards agreement with the DPRK. The Agency has never been allowed by the DPRK to verify the completeness and correctness of the DPRK’s initial 1992 declaration - specifically, that the DPRK has declared all the nuclear material that is subject to Agency safeguards under its NPT safeguards agreement. From November 1994, the Agency was only allowed to monitor the “freeze” of the DPRK’s graphite moderated reactor and related facilities, in connection with the “Agreed Framework” between the DPRK and the USA. This continued until the end of December 2002, when the Agency’s inspectors were withdrawn at the request of the DPRK. Since that time, the Agency has not performed any verification activities in the DPRK and cannot therefore provide any level of assurance about the non-diversion of nuclear material.

The six-party talks that recently took place in Beijing were clearly a step in the right direction towards a comprehensive resolution of the Korean crisis. I do hope that the dialogue will continue, and I trust that any future settlement will ensure the return of the DPRK to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and that the Agency will be given the necessary authority and resources, and be provided with all available information, to be able to fulfil its responsibilities under the NPT in a credible manner. I also hope that the Agency will be consulted at an early stage on verification requirements.

Implementation of United Natio

Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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