Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Thank you for joining me for this New Year reception. Happy New Year to you all!
The nuclear world has undergone some dramatic changes since my last New Year reception in 2011. The Fukushima Daiichi accident in March had a significant impact on the Agency's work and we will be dealing with its consequences for years to come.
I believe that, overall, the Agency responded well to this unprecedented crisis. I am proud of our dedicated staff. In addition to the immediate support which we provided to Japan, I convened a Ministerial Conference on nuclear safety in June. This resulted, several months later, in agreement by Member States on a comprehensive Nuclear Safety Action Plan.
The Secretariat is working energetically on implementation of the Action Plan, as are many Member States. I will report to you on progress in the course of this year.
The Agency intends to play its part in restoring confidence in the safety of nuclear power by helping to ensure that nuclear safety is more robust after Fukushima than before.
The Fukushima Daiichi accident significantly altered the outlook for nuclear power. Global use of nuclear power will continue to grow in the coming decades, but at a slower rate than we had previously projected. Assistance to newcomers, especially those which are most advanced on the road to having operational reactors, will remain a high-priority issue.
Helping to make nuclear power available to all countries which wish to add it to their energy mix, so they can use it safely, efficiently and profitably, is an important part of the Agency's mandate.
Work will continue on establishing the IAEA LEU bank.
Nuclear security remains a high priority issue for the Agency. The Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in March will provide a good opportunity for heads of state to discuss this issue.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I took office two years ago, I pledged my unwavering commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and stressed that all safeguards agreements and other relevant obligations must be implemented in full. I continue to pursue this goal vigorously. I am pleased with the steady rise in the number of additional protocols in force in the past two years and I hope this positive trend will continue. I also hope that the few remaining countries without comprehensive safeguards agreements in force will rectify this situation soon.
My key priority in 2012 will be to try to make progress towards restoring international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme. This is the most important of the major safeguards issues on our agenda. A senior team from the Agency, led by Deputy Director General for Safeguards Herman Nackaerts, will visit Iran towards the end of this month. I am fully committed to working constructively with Iran and I trust that Iran will approach our forthcoming discussions in an equally constructive spirit.
I will continue to engage with Syria and follow up on its pledge to cooperate with the Agency on safeguards implementation issues. I also hope that political developments will make it possible for the Agency to resume its verification activities in the DPRK. Our safeguards team is ready to go back into action in the DPRK at short notice.
Last year, after more than a decade of efforts, we held a Forum on the possible introduction of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, which proved to be more constructive than many had expected. I hope that progress will be made in this area in the coming years. The Agency is ready to play its part.
Last year, we also significantly strengthened the Agency's safeguards analytical abilities with the opening - on schedule and within budget - of the new Clean Laboratory Extension. I trust that funding for the new Nuclear Material Laboratory will be forthcoming so that tangible progress can be made on this vital project this year.
Strengthening our technical cooperation programme has been a high priority for me since I took up office and will remain so in the coming years. Coordination between our TC Department and Nuclear Applications Department has improved, to the great benefit of Member States.
Our focus on cancer in 2010, and on water last year, proved effective in strengthening our work in the nuclear applications area. I plan to pay special attention this year to nuclear techniques related to food, which will be the focus of the Scientific Forum in September.
My experiences during my travels of just how much the Agency's assistance matters to the thousands of people who benefit from our food, water or health projects have left a lasting impression on me. Making the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology available to developing countries will remain high on the Agency's agenda.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I took office two years ago, I stressed the need for efficient and effective management and optimum use of the resources which you have made available to the Agency. It is now clear that we need to be prepared for a long period of economic constraint in Member States. We must demonstrate continuously that we really are prioritising effectively and working with maximum efficiency.
Nevertheless, demands for the Agency's services in all areas continue to increase. I count on you to ensure that we have the resources we need to do the job you expect of us. I pledge, in turn, to use the resources which you provide efficiently and effectively and to the maximum benefit of Member States.
Last year, we successfully launched the first phase of AIPS, which will, in time, greatly improve transparency and accountability. We also began the introduction of IPSAS accounting standards. Roll-out of both projects will continue this year.
I would like to introduce to you our new Deputy Director General for management, Janice Dunn Lee. With her arrival, we now have a completely new team of DDsG.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the start of my term of office, I summarized my key objective as implementing the "Atoms for Peace" goals of our founding fathers in a 21st century context. In my view, the Agency is first and foremost a technical organization, although its activities have political implications. I will continue to work in the coming years, under the guidance of the Board of Governors, on implementing the agenda which I outlined to you two years ago.
We can all take legitimate pride in our collective achievements in recent years. But the Agency continues to face many challenges and we must produce tangible deliverables. I have every confidence that, together, we will meet those challenges.
I thank you again for your guidance and support. I wish you every success in the coming year and I look forward to working with you all to help make the world safer, more secure and more prosperous.