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Statement to International Conference on Access to Civil Nuclear Energy

Paris, France

Mr. Chairman,

I am grateful to President Sarkozy for hosting this important event and I welcome his active support for sharing the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology widely throughout the world.

As both President Sarkozy and President Barroso noted, nuclear power is enjoying growing acceptance as a stable and clean source of energy that can help to mitigate the impact of climate change. The IAEA has 151 Member States and the number of countries interested in introducing nuclear energy is growing steadily. Demand for our assistance is also constantly increasing.

Access to nuclear power should not be the sole prerogative of developed countries. It should also be available to developing countries. The Agency is well-placed to help. We now have projects on introducing nuclear power with fifty-eight of our Member States, 17 of whom are actively preparing nuclear power programmes. We expect between 10 and 25 new countries to bring their first nuclear power plants on-line by 2030. These are momentous changes.

We have come together at this conference because we have a shared goal: to assist countries embarking on nuclear power to do so knowledgeably, profitably, safely and securely. The more we cooperate and coordinate, the more successful we will be in reaching that goal.

The IAEA plays a key role in helping to share the advantages of nuclear power with interested countries. In doing so, we pay special attention to ensuring high standards of nuclear safety and security and we implement safeguards to verify that all nuclear activities in Member States are exclusively peaceful.

Let me share with you some key areas of our work.

First, the Agency provides practical guidance to countries considering whether nuclear power might be suitable for them. Two key Agency documents spell out, simply and clearly, everything which they need to do.

One is entitled Considerations to Launch a Nuclear Power Programme. It lays out all issues that decision makers need to consider to ensure that nuclear energy is developed beneficially, responsibly and sustainably.

The other is called Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power. It systematically defines all the milestones that should guide a country´s preparation of the infrastructure for nuclear power. These cover the appropriate legal and regulatory framework, engineering, financial and environmental concerns, safety and security, as well as the appropriate safeguards regime. These milestones are designed to help countries make progress, not to put obstacles in their way.

Our second key role is as a reviewer. At the request of a Member State, we assemble teams of experts to conduct detailed reviews of, for example, the operational safety of its nuclear facilities, the effectiveness of its regulatory system or its overall progress in preparing for nuclear power. This system of peer review - which involves experts sharing information and experience with other experts - is of immense value. It helps to increase transparency, to the benefit of all.

Third, the Agency provides a broad range of training to Member States. For example, we organize highly specialised technical training for nuclear engineers and scientists. In Montpelier, we help to run courses in nuclear law. This training helps countries to build up their own expertise so they can make informed decisions and are well prepared in dealing with vendors, consultants, industry associations and other governments.

The IAEA plays an active role in contributing to technological development. A good example is the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO). Continual innovation in nuclear technology is essential. Fast reactors, for example, make it possible to extend the lifetime of uranium resources from hundreds of years to thousands of years, to lower costs and to reduce nuclear waste. Here, also, success will depend on international coordination.

Let me state again that our shared goal is to assist countries embarking on nuclear power to do so knowledgeably, profitably, safely and securely. I have no doubt that this conference will lead to improved coordination and help to achieve the IAEA´s statutory objective, which is "to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world."

Thank you.

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Last update: 20 Nov 2020

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