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Statement at Inauguration Ceremony for Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Vienna, Austria
Inauguration Ceremony for Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Mr. Minister, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

I commend the Ministry of European and International Affairs for supporting the establishment of the Center and I compliment you, Minister Spindelegger, for choosing the Monterey Institute of International Studies to manage it. As a Monterey alumnus myself, I can assure you that you could not have made a better choice.

I am delighted to see Professor Sunder Ramaswamy, President of the Monterey Institute, here today.

And I would like to pay special tribute to my old friend Professor Bill Potter.

He is a first-class educator, an expert in everything to do with nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and a tireless advocate of the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation education.

I was a member of the Group of Governmental Experts which drafted the United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Education in 2002. The fact that this group was created in the first place owes much to the initiative of Bill Potter. I learned a lot from Bill.

In my new role at the IAEA, I continue to attach great importance to education. I believe it is vital that we educate the people of the world about how devastating nuclear weapons are and build awareness of the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

I have no doubt that the new Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation will make an important contribution in this area.

The recent conclusion of the new START Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States was a welcome development in the nuclear disarmament field.

Reducing the role and numbers of nuclear weapons is a positive step towards a safe and peaceful world free of nuclear weapons which can impact positively on nuclear non-proliferation efforts. But, of course, further steps are needed.

Disarmament and non-proliferation education have an essential role to play in maintaining and strengthening the momentum towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has for decades been actively involved in promoting nuclear non-proliferation education. My colleagues and I speak about nuclear non-proliferation throughout the world. We organize briefings here in Vienna for members of parliament, government officials, think tanks, academics and other groups.

We host educational seminars for NGOs, diplomats and journalists on the Agency´s non-proliferation activities - the latest one was held this week.

The IAEA also provides opportunities for on-the-job training and work experience to students and young professionals. Indeed, several Monterey Institute graduates are currently working with us. This is an excellent example of how disarmament and non-proliferation education can contribute to promoting international peace and security.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States took place during my time with Monterey in Washington. Through my windows in Dupont Circle, I could see smoke and flames rising from the Pentagon - a terrible and unforgettable sight.

Since then, the IAEA has devoted increasing attention to preventing nuclear and radioactive materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

In April last year, President Obama hosted a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, attended by leaders from 47 countries. I also had the honour to participate.

I was pleased that the IAEA´s efforts to help countries make their nuclear facilities and borders more secure against the threat of nuclear terrorism were recognized at the highest levels. The heads of government gave strong moral and political support to our work.

As Bill Potter has pointed out, it was also noteworthy that the Communiqué and Work Plan agreed at the Summit highlighted the importance of education, training and capacity-building in nuclear security.

Of course, the work of the IAEA goes well beyond non-proliferation and nuclear security. It also includes helping countries which want to introduce nuclear power - which is the sovereign decision of each state - to do so safely, securely and sustainably. We help them establish the technical and regulatory infrastructure and put the necessary legislation in place.

Recently, we published a revised Handbook of Nuclear Law which is aimed at helping countries to develop an effective national legal framework governing the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We also run courses in nuclear law in Montpellier, France.

As you can see, there are many areas in which we can cooperate with the Vienna Center.

Mr. Minister, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a human being, as Director General of the IAEA - and particularly as a citizen of the only country ever to experience the unspeakable horror of nuclear bombs - I believe with all my heart and soul that these horrific weapons must be eliminated.

Achieving that goal will require continued global efforts to increase awareness and understanding of the vital importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

I welcome the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation as an important new player in this field and I wish the Center every success in its work.

Thank you.

Last update: 16 Feb 2018


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