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Statement to Nuclear Security Summit

Washington D.C. USA

Dear Excellencies,

As many of you clearly stated, the threat of nuclear terrorism is real and immediate.

Throughout the world, too much nuclear and radioactive material is not properly secured. On average, every two days, the IAEA receives one new report on incidents involving illicit trafficking of nuclear or radiological material. Terrorists have become bolder and are not afraid of using weapons of mass destruction.

Responsibility for nuclear security rests with each sovereign state. But the IAEA can help Member States to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and to establish an effective response.

To name a few examples: we provided cooperation to protect against possible nuclear attacks at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and will do so at the World Cup in South Africa this year. After the tragic earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the Agency helped to verify that no nuclear or radioactive material had gone missing.

The Agency can, upon request from Member States, provide support in four key areas: Information, Advice, Education and technical support, and Assistance.

Information is key to identify trends and patterns in the nuclear security threat, analyze weaknesses in States´ security systems, and determine the response.

The IAEA´s Illicit Trafficking Database is the most authoritative source of information on illicit trafficking. One hundred and ten States participate. We receive around 150 reports of incidents per year. From 2002 to 2009, we received reports on 1400 incidents.

Our information resources can be very valuable for you in evaluating the threat and devising appropriate responses.

The Agency provides practical advice to help you make your nuclear facilities and borders more secure. We also help you to implement the international nuclear security instruments to which you adhere. This advice is contained in IAEA recommendations and guidance documents.

If requested, we can also dispatch expert teams to review nuclear security arrangements, identify weaknesses and provide tailor-made, on-the-spot advice. I commend the UK for recently opening up the Sellafield facility for such a Mission, I understand some others are considering to do the same, and I encourage more countries to follow suit.

Effective nuclear security requires highly skilled people and state of the art technology. Since 2002, the IAEA has trained some 9,000 people in 120 countries on all aspects of nuclear security. This ranges from physical protection at facilities to radiation detection and response.

We have improved security at facilities in 30 States, supplied some 3000 nuclear detection instruments to some 50 countries and helped to repatriate more than one tonne of highly enriched uranium research reactor fuel to the countries which produced it.

Terrorists will quickly exploit the weakest linkin any security system. The challenge is global and the response must be global.

With 151 Member States, the IAEA has global reach and is already making a significant contribution.

But I must be honest and tell you that our nuclear security activities operate on a shoestring. In 2010, the regular budget allocated to these activities is only Euro 3.2 million. For the rest, we depend on voluntary contributions. We are grateful for your enormous moral and political support, but we need stronger and more predictable funding. I urge all Member States to give special priority to the IAEA so that the Agency has the resources it needs to make all of us more secure.


Last update: 26 July 2017