• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

Statement to the Thirty-Seventh Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Vienna, Austria

Since the General Conference met in September 1992 many events and developments have occurred which have called for or will call for action in the IAEA. Some have even focussed the world's attention on the Agency. In South Africa we see the first case of a State abandoning its nuclear-weapon status - giving in the process a number of important verification tasks to the IAEA. Latin America and Africa may soon emerge as nuclearweapon -free continents. In the Middle East, the peace process appears to accelerate, inter alia increasing the prospect of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region. The nuclear disarmament process seems to gather momentum with possibilities for agreements on a complete test ban and a cut-off of production of fissionable material for weapons purposes, and certainly a release of large quantities of nuclear material from dismantled nuclear weapons. Such developments would help to create a favourable climate for the 1995 Conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They would also focus attention on the IAEA as a possible international mechanism for verification.

There are also new problems such as the undoing of Iraq's near-nuclear-weapon capacity; and the presence of nuclear weapons in some of the States of the former Soviet Union and the ambiguous attitude of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards.

In the field of the development of nuclear power the outlook is highly diverse. Most Western industrialized countries are still in recession and this factor, together with significant and vocal opposition to new nuclear power in many Western countries, has lead to a stagnation in nuclear power construction. By contrast, in East Asia, with several booming economies and rapidly growing electricity needs, nuclear power is fast expanding. The countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern and Central Europe, facing grim economic realities, remain committed to nuclear power while at the same time working hard on upgrading the safety in equipment, operations and infrastructures.

The awareness is increasing that some of the world's most serious environmental threats are linked to our massive and careless use of energy. The present understanding that global CO2 emissions will have to be reduced to avoid a greenhouse effect may be expected to lead - in due course - to a renewed active global consideration of the CO2-free nuclear power option. The years before that discussion starts must be used to further strengthen nuclear safety, both in reactors and in the handling of nuclear waste. When the sceptics are seriously prepared to look at the nuclear option again, some features which may have raised doubts earlier should have been fully addressed.

For developing countries, many of which do not yet have the capacity to use nuclear power, various nuclear techniques offer great benefits - in the field of health care, agriculture and industry. These countries rightly maintain that there should be a balance in the IAEA, between safeguards and regulatory activities on the one hand and activities which aim at promoting the transfer and dissemination of nuclear techniques on the other. In stressing the promotional role of the IAEA they are on firm historical ground. Very nearly 40 years ago, in a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1953, President Eisenhower proposed the creation of the Agency. He said the following:

"The more important responsibility of this atomic energy agency would be to devise methods whereby this fissionable material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind. Experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine and other peaceful activities. A special purpose would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power- starved areas of the world. Thus the contributing Powers would be dedicating some of their strength to serve the needs rather than the fears of mankind."

It is on this lofty mandate that the technology transfer activities of the Agency are built.

The limited but vocal opinion that is so resistent to nuclear energy that it urges the IAEA to abandon its role in promoting, say, mutation plant breeding, or the use of radiation in medicine or in industry, will not meet much understanding among governments who continue to share the aims proclaimed by President Eisenhower.

After this quick tour d'horizon, I shall begin with some comments on the Agency's engagement in the transfer of nuclear techniques.

IAEA promotion of nuclear techniques

Many nuclear techniques provide highly cost-effective means for solving problems in medicine, agriculture and industry. The ability of the Agency to help transfer such techniques to developing countries is dependent upon several factors: above all upon the resources contributed, but also upon the efficiency of the TC operations and the ability and engagement of the recipient parties. Although the main resource base - the Technical Assistance and Co-operation Fund - has steadily grown, the substantial devaluations which have occurred in non-convertible currencies and pledges below targets by a few industrialized countries regrettably reduce the resources available.

For a long time the RCA - the regional co-operation agreement for Asia - has been a very constructive tool in the transfer of nuclear technology to the countries of Asia. Similar benefits are sought in ARCAL (the arrangements on regional co-operation among Latin American States) and in AFRA (the agreement on regional co-operation among African States). In such a specialized area as nuclear techniques positive effects that can be gained through regional approaches. However, they require a strong commitment by their members and a flow of resources. I am glad that a meeting of co-ordinators and managers of the regional programmes will take place during the General Conference to discuss common issues and collaboration.

Training forms an important part in almost all transfer of nuclear techniques. We must express our appreciation to the many nuclear institutions and laboratories in both industrial and developing countries which receive trainees in the most diverse fields. I must also point to the important training function of the IAEA laboratories in Seibersdorf and Monaco. I am glad to note that the Government of Monaco will provide the Marine Environment Laboratory with new excellent premises next year. This Laboratory, which will then comprise a training centre, continuously provides important analytical control services in the measurement of nuclear and non-nuclear environmental contamination. In recent years it has provided key assistance in the radiological assessment of radioactive waste dumping in the Arctic Seas, evaluation of post-war environment recovery in the Persian Gulf and a nuclear and conventional pollutant survey in the Danube river basin.

A large volume of advanced and highly specialized training in physics has been provided through the International Centre of Theoretical Physics at Trieste, for which the Agency has had the administrative responsibility. With increasing and very generous contributions by Italy and the dynamic leadership of Professor Abdus Salam, the Trieste Centre has been an intellectual North/South hub of great excellence. As the subjects treated have gradually extended far beyond the Agency's domains, it has been agreed that UNESCO shall take over the day-to-day administrative responsibility. However, the Agency can take pride in having helped to create and develop the Centre. The Agency will continue to support it financially and to rely on it as an important training institution.

Some new approaches are being followed to increase the effective use of the resources available for the Agency's technical assistance:

  • First, we shall seek increased assurance that requests for assistance are based on national development priorities. This can be done through intensified contacts with the Member States, e.g. through pre-project missions. With a firm basis in national priorities the prospect of effective implementation increases;
  • Second, we shall verify - already at the time of project design - that projects are consistent with the policy of sustainable development. In fact, surveys of Agency programmes show that a very high proportion of them do contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection. What has been done in the past as a matter of common sense will become conscious policy;
  • Third, we shall also, in accordance with the statutory requirement, require the application of the Agency's Basic Safety Standards to all TC projects;
  • Fourth, and last, we shall develop some practical, end-user oriented projects, which will provide the recipients immediate benefits and may serve as models. Examples of such projects include the use of the sterile insect technique in tse tse fly eradication and the use of radiation sterilization for a human tissue bank.

Let me conclude my comments about the dissemination of nuclear techniques by giving you a few concrete examples of what the Agency is doing.

  • One project has very successfully been using Prussian Blue boli to reduce radio-caesium contamination in meat and milk in areas affected by nuclear fallout in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. It has been calculated that the use of $5000 worth of boli has resulted in savings of $30 million. We appreciate Norway's funding and technical support for this project;
  • Another project consists in a joint FAO/IAEA campaign to develop and support the use of nuclear and molecular-based technologies to diagnose rinderpest, which is a devastating disease of livestock. Under this project our laboratory in Seibersdorf sends diagnostic kits to the affected countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The economic benefits of the campaign can ultimately be counted in billions of dollars;
  • Another project planned relates to the eradication of the tsetse fly in Zanzibar by using radiation sterilized insects. The economic and social development of a large portion of sub-Saharan Africa is strongly hindered by both human sleeping sickness and African Animal Trypanosomiasis transmitted by tsetse flies. Given financing, there is an opportunity to overcome this scourge on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania. The project would build on the work of a number of years by Agency and FAO experts who have been working with Tanzanian scientists to develop methods for combatting tsetse and trypanosomiasis. Progress has been so encouraging that we are preparing to launch a Model Project to completely eradicate tsetse from Zanzibar;
  • In the field of industry, the Agency has helped several States to make use of irradiation techniques for the sterilization of medical products and to improve products by polymerization through irradiation;
  • Our laboratory in Seibersdorf has assisted laboratories in Africa in using nuclear analytical techniques to undertake trace element analysis in air, water, soil and biological samples. Through these techniques important information can be gained about the movement of air pollutants.
  • In Poland a very successful pilot project is conducted using ammonium and an electron beam to transform into fertilizer the SO2 and NOx contained in the flue gases of a coal plant. The upgrading of the technique to industrial scale is now being studied. Several countries have requested assistance in the transfer of this technology, which turns waste products from the burning of fossil fuels into a useful fertilizer;
  • Lastly, a study has been made and a document prepared about the possibilities of using nuclear energy to produce potable water. Several countries have contributed to this work, notably the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which has made AS 600 000 and two experts available.

Nuclear Power

International co-operation in the area of nuclear power remains a large and important function of the IAEA. As we all know the continued and expanded reliance on nuclear power is a controversial issue in most countries. The IAEA - as an intergovernmental organization consisting of many States making extensive and increasing use of nuclear power and of others which reject this option - is not seeking to persuade Member States collectively or individually to use nuclear power. Decisions in this regard fall altogether within the national sphere of States. Rather the work of the organization in this area is based on the simple premise that nuclear power is in fact used in many countries, that other States consider introducing it and that there is a need for factual information, for the exchange of views and experience, for the harmonization of standards and for a variety of services, especially in the field of nuclear safety.

The organization compiles and distributes to its Members much information relevant to the nuclear power industry, e.g. on uranium production, on the performance of the world's nuclear power plants, etc. For countries considering the nuclear power option, the Agency can offer advice and expertise. The recent publication "Policy Planning for Nuclear Power" identifies some of the issues which such countries will need to consider. The Agency further convokes technical meetings to discuss matters like the burn-up of fuel with a view to achieving optimal fuel economy. It provides fora for the meeting of experts dealing with the design and construction of various new types of power reactors. However, most of the work in the sphere of nuclear power is devoted to safety and waste handling. I shall revert to this in a moment.

The long economic recession that many countries have been experiencing and the continuous improvements in energy efficiency tend to make us ignore that the use of energy, notably electricity, is expected to grow significantly over the next decades - especially in developing countries but also globally. Since energy production and use are one of the principal causes of environmental threats, it is appropriate that Agenda 21 which was adopted at the world summit on the environment in Rio last year, stressed the role of energy in sustainable development and the need for designing and implementing environmentally sound energy strategies. It is safe to predict that this is going to be a difficult task. All energy generation and use carry some degree of risk to health and environment. The fossil fuels by far dominate the commercial energy sources and it is also with the use of these fuels that the most ominous health and environmental impacts are connected, e.g. forests dying from acid rains and global warming linked inter alia to carbon dioxide emissions.

In its search for agreement to prevent or impede climate change and transfrontier pollution the international community will need the best possible basis in science and data. Blind opposition to the use of nuclear power must not prevent a factual and rational examination and comparison of the data relating to this energy source with those of other sources. For several years the IAEA has been engaged in an inter-agency project on databases and methodologies for comparative assessment of different energy sources for electricity generation. The main conclusions and findings should be ready for presentation and discussion at a Symposium on Electricity, Health and the Environment in 1995. While no one, least of all in the IAEA, is forgetting the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl accident, I am convinced that the absence of SO2 and NOx and especially CO2 emissions from nuclear power installations, will prove to be of great importance. Today, some 17% of the world's electricity is generated by nuclear power. If expansion of CO2-free energy generation becomes a vital objective, nuclear power could be used not only to increase the production of electricity but also for industrial heat, desalination and district heating. Modern windmills and solar cells are welcome sources of energy but they are not likely to provide the substantial amounts of power needed to meet the growing needs of industrial development in the decades to come.

We cannot know today what conclusions will emerge from the impending discussion of energy and environment. What is fortunately clear, however, is that the programme of the IAEA can build on a consensus that whatever future role will be given to nuclear power, efforts must be made today to achieve globally a fully responsible disposal of radioactive waste and a strengthening of nuclear safety, especially in those areas where weaknesses have been found.

The management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste

The IAEA activities relating to spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste consist of information exchange, expert assistance, advice and services in specific cases, but also of work on establishing international norms.

The Agency's engagement in the question of the dumping of radioactive wastes at sea combine the two types of activities. Under the London Convention the Agency provides the technical basis for establishing norms relating to disposal of radioactive materials at sea. In the areas of provision of advice and services, the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratory has supported both the 1992 and the 1993 Kara Sea expeditions organized by Russia and Norway. In co-operation with the Governments of these two States and as a part of the IAEA's responsibilities under the London Convention, the Agency initiated the International Arctic Seas Project to assess the possible health and environmental impacts of the radioactive wastes dumped in the shallow waters of the Arctic. Samples collected in 1992 and analysed at Monaco have shown no evidence of increased activity. However, a considerable amount of information is needed before a reliable assessment of the potential impact of the dumping can be made. The IAEA is also exploring ways in which it could be of assistance in examining the dumping of radioactive wastes in the North Pacific, including the Sea of Japan. Here, fortunately, the quantities dumped appear to have been much smaller than in the Arctic.

Due to the increasing number of reactors in operation around the world, the amount of spent fuel to be stored is continuously growing. To disseminate information about new technologies and good operating practices in this field, the Agency has initiated an advisory programme for the management of irradiated fuel (IFMAP). We are also engaged in the preparation of Safety Guides dealing with the Design and Operation of Spent Fuel Storage Facilities. These are expected to be ready for publication in 1994.

The Agency is further continuing the programme to develop Radioactive Waste Safety Standards - RADWASS. Twelve high-priority documents are being prepared under this programme, including the RADWASS Safety Fundamentals which was sent to Member States for review in July and may be submitted to the Board of Governors in 1994. It is hoped that these documents, when approved, may serve as a basis for a Convention on the Safe Management of Radioactive Wastes - paralleling the Convention now being drafted on Nuclear Safety. The voluntary contributions made by the Republic of Korea to these activities are of great help.

Nuclear Safety

Much effort has been devoted to nuclear safety in the past year - in the domestic spheres as in the international sphere. I welcome among the participants at the General Conference many heads of national governmental nuclear safety supervisory organs. They will meet with a separate agenda during the Conference. It is of great importance that there should be consistency between the safety policies applied around the world. Meetings between national regulators promote such consistency. I also welcome the presence here today of Mr. R‚my Carle, the Chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), which plays an increasingly important role to help nuclear operators to strengthen safety by learning directly from each other.

As in the field of nuclear waste, the IAEA's activities in nuclear safety are geared both to information collection and analysis, advice and services in specific situations and to the development of norms.

For many years the Agency has sought to obtain authoritative and accurate open reports about serious nuclear events. A case in point was the accident in April this year at the Tomsk-7 nuclear centre in Siberia. Less than 24 hours after the Agency had received the invitation, three experts left for Siberia to seek first-hand information about the radiological effects of the accident and their consequences for the population and the environment. I cite this case, not to report on the results of the inquiry, which were made available to interested States, but rather to stress the ambition for openness and for ways of strengthening safety by learning from significant nuclear events.

Major efforts are being made by authorities and experts in the former Soviet Union and in East and Central European countries to upgrade the safety in nuclear installations. Assistance from other countries and from the G-24 Group of OECD countries and the Commission of the European Communities, as well as from WANO has been and remains important. The activities of the Agency, which have received considerable financial support by Japan, have focussed on implementation of consistent international safety assessments of various Soviet-designed nuclear power plants and elaboration of recommendations for upgrading their level of safety. Everything has not always worked smoothly and expeditiously in this great endeavour, but I think it is true to say that all the work has been imbued with a sincere wish to bring all the installations concerned - if at all possible - to an acceptable modern safety standard. And, although the work is still in full swing, it can be said that significant improvements in safety have already been accomplished.

One specific area in which the IAEA together with the UNDP has taken an initiative relates to the strengthening of radiation protection and nuclear safety infrastructures in the States of the former Soviet Union. This is of relevance especially for safety in research reactors, uranium mining and milling and facilities using radiation sources in medicine, agriculture and industry. The first phase of this project - an information exchange forum - was successfully undertaken in Vienna from 4 to 7 May this year. In a second and third phase assistance packages will be prepared and implemented for individual countries. The Soviet Union certainly possessed an impressive capacity in the field of radiation protection. As this centralized system has been broken up, the individual States must now acquire their own capacity - individually or preferably in co-operation with each other. The project we have launched seeks to assist and facilitate such development.

Let me report also about the work on two international conventions - one on Nuclear Safety, the other on Liability.

The Nuclear Safety Convention

A consensus about the structure and main contents of a Nuclear Safety Convention has emerged in an open-ended working group of legal and technical experts and the Chairman of the Group, Mr. Domaratzki, has now prepared a single text as a basis for discussion at the next meeting in October. The Convention would be limited in its scope to civil nuclear power reactors. It would oblige the parties to comply with fundamental safety principles which are developed from the nuclear safety fundamentals approved by the Board last June. An important feature would be an obligation of the parties to report at agreed intervals to a Meeting of Contracting Parties on the national application of the principles laid down in the Convention. The reporting would be linked to a system of international peer review. The Agency might be asked to assist the parties in the review process and to function as the Secretariat of the Convention.

It is gratifying that the discussions seem to be heading to concrete results. If progress is maintained a draft convention might be available to the Board of Governors in February and could be considered and approved by a diplomatic conference to be held in conjunction with next year's General Conference - or earlier as a separate event.

Nuclear Liability
The Vienna Convention on Nuclear Liability and the Joint Protocol that links it with the Paris Convention are important parts of the international legal infrastructure that is needed for the operation and acceptance of nuclear power. Indeed, it has been found in the past year or so that adherence by countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union would remove some obstacles which exist in the international co-operation to upgrade nuclear safety in these regions. I am glad to report that the negotiation of possible amendments to the Vienna Convention has advanced considerably. Mutual concessions are needed, however, to settle the issue of supplementary compensation. In the light of the outcome of the consultations on this issue, a new target date for a diplomatic conference will be considered in October.

Safeguards and non-proliferation

The safeguards and verification activities of the IAEA have often been at the centre of political and media attention in the past year.

In the case of Iraq, some 21 inspection missions sent by the IAEA and considerable staff work in Vienna allow us to conclude that in all essential aspects, the nuclear weapon programme is mapped and has been destroyed through the war or neutralized thereafter. The declared non-irradiated highly enriched uranium was removed from Iraq in November 1991 and the declared irradiated highly enriched uranium is now scheduled for removal from the country in the course of the next five months. Upon completion of this operation no highly enriched uranium and no capacity to produce it should remain in Iraq.

There are still some disturbing gaps in our knowledge about the nuclear supply and procurement channels of Iraq and about the sources of scientific and technical information. We hope that these last pieces of the picture will soon be clarified by the Iraqi side, which is anxious that the IAEA and UNSCOM should conclude that Iraq has complied with the requirements of UNSC resolution 687.

The Agency has already phased in some of the elements required for the long-term monitoring in Iraq, including arrangements for environmental sampling. In recent discussions in New York with the Iraqi side, the Agency and UNSCOM have clarified how ongoing monitoring and verification will be pursued. Such monitoring will not, of course, preclude the Agency from utilizing, should it be needed, the extensive rights of inspection which are laid down in the plan approved by the Security Council.

My last points relating to the Agency's work in Iraq are the following: first, the extensive work of inspection and analysis of the Iraqi nuclear programme has been performed in the Agency by an Action Team that never comprised more than five full-time professionals and two very capable secretaries in Vienna. For the inspections and much of the analysis, we have been able to draw on the resources of our Safeguards Department, and at our Seibersdorf Laboratories and on our chain of support laboratories in Member States. For some types of inspection expertise we have obtained specialized personnel from Member States. As international organizations are often criticized for lack of effectiveness and efficiency, I think both the fulfilment of the IAEA's mandate in Iraq and the cost-effective manner in which it was carried out, should be noted. Second, the operations in Iraq have given the Agency vast experience with new techniques which may be of great value as we proceed to strengthen the capability of the safeguards system to detect undeclared material and installations.

The revelations in Iraq highlighted the fact that normal safeguards inspections are focussed on declared nuclear material and declared installations and led to efforts to strengthen the capability of the Agency to discover material and installations which should have been declared but were not. I shall soon discuss these efforts. At this point, however, I should like to point out that the discovery of a non-declared nuclear programme in a country having comprehensive safeguards has led the Secretariat to add further precision to certain important conclusions which it draws from the safeguards activities. Thus in the Safeguards Implementation Report for 1992 you will find the following formulation, I quote

"On the basis of all the information available to the Agency, it is considered reasonable to conclude that nuclear material and other items which had been placed under Agency safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities or were otherwise adequately accounted for."

This statement is deliberately limited to declared nuclear material and other items. Even so it is qualified by a footnote recalling that the safeguards system is not so finemeshed that there is a high probability for it to detect diversions of less than a significant quantity. These circumspect formulations may appear pedantic, but I think it is important that the Agency not offer more reassurance than can in practice be obtained from the safeguards system. However desirable it would be to have a flat affirmation that no nondeclared nuclear installations exist in a country with comprehensive safeguards, such categorical formulations cannot be made on the basis of the results of our verification activities. All that can be done is to report on the results of the inspection and analysis effort to verify the correctness and assess the completeness of State declarations, to point to evidence which supports or undermines the veracity of the declarations and to note the presence or the absence of any evidence casting doubt on the credibility of the declarations. Even in the case of Iraq, where the Agency has had exceptional means of investigation and rights of access, the task of assessing the absence of further non-declared nuclear items is difficult. Where the Agency operates under normal NPT-type safeguards rights, the task of assessing the completeness of a declaration is still more difficult. The transparency of the nuclear programme and the co-operation offered are decisive factors for the fulfilment of this task. Strengthening the Agency's ability to give a higher degree of assurance of the absence of non-declared items, must necessarily build on great openness by the inspected country. Current discussions about strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the safeguards system focus on these factors.

South Africa

Since the conclusion, in September 1991, of the safeguards agreement between South Africa and the Agency, pursuant to the NPT, the Agency has been engaged in activities to implement the agreement and verify the completeness and assess the correctness of South Africa's Initial Report. As you will see from the report in document GC(XXXVII)/1075, no less than twenty-two missions have been carried out in South Africa over the past two years. It is only fair to report that the Agency has encountered a highly co-operative attitude on the part of the South African authorities. With time, effort and co-operation our inspectors have been able to resolve many apparent discrepancies and inconsistencies which they had identified. As stated in the report, the apparent discrepancies relating to low enriched uranium - which were accorded lower priority - remain to be clarified and will call for continued efforts. No evidence has been found casting doubt on the veracity of the initial declaration.

A new dimension was added to the Agency's work in South Africa when, in March 1993, President de Klerk declared that South Africa had developed a nuclear weapons capability, and that the weapons had been dismantled and destroyed before South Africa joined the NPT and that the figures referring to the resulting quantity of recovered highly enriched uranium had been included in the Initial Report submitted to the Agency.

The Agency was invited by South Africa to examine all the facilities that had been involved in South Africa's nuclear weapons programme, to inspect all remaining records, to observe that the programme had, in fact, been terminated and to gain assurance that all the nuclear material involved had been placed under safeguards. A team of senior Agency staff and nuclear weapon experts visited South Africa in April, June and August for these purposes. Their report is found in GC(XXXVII)/1075. The team saw substantial evidence of the destruction of equipment used in the development and making of the nuclear weapons and of the termination of the programme. It found no indications to contradict South Africa's statement that all the highly enriched uranium from weapons was reported in the Initial Declaration. Nevertheless the Agency plans to utilize the standing invitation of the South African Government - under its reiterated policy of transparency - to provide the Agency with full access to any location or facility associated with the former nuclear weapons programme to satisfy itself, on a continuing basis, that they are now dedicated to commercial non-nuclear usage or to peaceful nuclear usage, and to request access, on a caseby -case basis, to other locations or facilities that the Agency may wish to visit.

Safeguards in the DPRK

I do not propose to give a chronological report about IAEA safeguards in the DPRK since the 1992 session of the General Conference. A fairly detailed paper is available in document GC(XXXVII)/1084.

The most important problem encountered is that the Agency's analysis of samples obtained from the DPRK suggests that some nuclear material exists that is not reported in the Initial Report. Hence the Agency is not in a position to verify the correctness and assess the completeness of that Report. The Agency has not asserted that the DPRK is diverting nuclear material for weapons development, but so long as the inconsistency between the report of the DPRK and our findings is not resolved by credible explanations through additional information and visits to additional locations, the Agency cannot exclude that the nuclear material has been diverted.

A Government which states that it is committed to non-proliferation and which is faced with questions by the Agency about the completeness of its declaration should have strong reasons to show maximum openness in order to clarify the matter as speedily as possible. I regret that the initial attitude of the DPRK to allow Agency officials to visit any place at any time did not prevail and that we were constrained eventually to ask formally for additional information and for special inspection of two sites which, we have reason to believe, are related to nuclear waste and which might shed some light on the inconsistencies we have found.

Full nuclear transparency is a means of creating confidence and comprehensive IAEA safeguards are a mechanism to create this transparency. Without a State's effective cooperation fully to implement its obligations under a comprehensive safeguards agreement, the results of the verification activities will be inadequate and they cannot create confidence. This is the background of the resolutions of the Agency's Board of Governors and of the Security Council urging the DPRK fully to co-operate with the Agency. Regrettably the readiness of the DPRK to implement the safeguards agreement appears to have diminished rather than grown. While last spring we were assured there was never any obstacle to ad hoc and routine inspections, such inspections have now been declined and the DPRK expresses only readiness to accept limited safeguards activities, mainly for maintenance. Thus, the area of non-compliance with the comprehensive safeguards agreement is widening.

There was earlier uncertainty as regards the possible existence of non-declared nuclear material. If effective inspection of declared nuclear material and installations cannot be performed, no further assurance can be given about their exclusively peaceful use. Only the implementation of systematic, effective and timely safeguards can give such assurance. Whenever the DPRK is ready to accept such inspection the Agency is ready to provide it. The Secretariat of the IAEA is also ready at any time to consult with the DPRK about ways to resolve the inconsistencies which have been found.

The DPRK has resented the insistence with which the Agency is seeking explanations for the inconsistencies it has found. It is suggesting token safeguards measures. I think that on reflection everyone would agree that all countries, including the DPRK, need to be sure that the Agency will display all the diligence allowed to it and required of it under the safeguards agreements fully to implement these agreements and that the Agency will pursue any discrepancies or inconsistencies it may find. Confidence in the Agency and its safeguards verification will require that we live up to this demand.

Strengthening of safeguards

As I turn to our efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of the safeguards system, while keeping costs low, I would like to start by pointing out that there is sometimes a tendency in the public debate to expect from safeguards more than they can conceivably achieve. The development over the last few decades of the safeguards system is a valuable contribution to the arms control efforts and the system is potentially of important use beyond its present applications. We must, however, have a realistic understanding of what it can do and what it cannot do.

The safeguards inspectors are not a supranational police that can parachute anywhere and stop violations of non-proliferation commitments. They are not an executive force, but inspectors who report observations which, if they are reassuring, may create confidence and detente, and if they are alarming, may trigger action - in the last resort by the Security Council and its members. Inspection is accepted by States only on the basis of explicit safeguards agreements which are entered into voluntarily. The present model rules embodied in INFCIRC/153 and 66 reflect a balance between the interest that States have collectively in credible inspection and the interests they have individually in not being subjected to excessively intrusive or cumbersome international control. While such a balance will always be required - and is, of course, found also in the recent Chemical Weapons Convention - there is room for measures which will strengthen the effectiveness of the present safeguards system and we seek to introduce such measures.

In the past few years the Board has repeatedly examined different ways of improving the effectiveness of safeguards while keeping the costs low. Much has been attained but considerable challenges lie ahead of us. Action has been taken inter alia to allow the Agency to receive design information concerning nuclear installations earlier than before. States may also give information about export and import and production of nuclear material and relevant equipment. The Secretariat will seek to extract more pertinent information from data already available to it and will look to other sources, like public media, for relevant facts. While, in my view, the Secretariat should be keen to obtain all safeguards relevant information, it must subject this information to critical analysis to avoid relying on erroneous data or disinformation.

As it is very much in the interest of Member States that the safeguards system should be strengthened, notably to give greater assurance against the existence of nuclear installations which should have been declared and which were not, I hope Member States will positively follow up and give effect to the actions of the Board, e.g. by agreeing to modifications in subsidiary arrangements and by providing safeguards relevant information.

Simultaneously with the efforts to make the safeguards system more effective, efforts have been made and are being made to deploy our resources in such a way as to avoid, if possible, that the considerable increases in the number of nuclear installations and amounts of nuclear material to be safeguarded lead to cost increases. These efforts have been intensified lately, but they are not new. Indeed, over the eight-year period of zero-realgrowth budgets the cost of safeguarding nuclear material - per significant quantity - has been cut in half. The agreement reached in 1992 with the European Community on partnership in the performance of safeguards in the community has meant a very significant saving of resources precisely at the time when it was acutely needed, e.g. for safeguards in South Africa and the DPRK.

We hope current discussions in the Secretariat and in the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation on so-called alternative safeguards approaches may lead eventually to both cost savings and greater confidence about the absence of undeclared nuclear facilities and activities in States with comprehensive safeguards agreements. However, we are not there yet. And it is clear that several of these cost-saving approaches will require a greater measure of transparency and co-operation by Members. Several new methods and approaches, including environmental monitoring, also need to be thoroughly tested and assessed before they can be generally used. A few States have offered to test environmental monitoring and various methods to increase nuclear transparency. This is valuable. Indeed, it would be useful if a small but representative group of both industrialized and developing countries were to take part in the testing of the new approaches and methods. I invite further States to join in these efforts.

Let me now deal specifically with some areas in which we can be sure there will be an expansion of safeguards activities and some others where such expansion is a possibility.

Argentina-Brazil-ABACC

A very important development started several years ago when Argentina and Brazil decided to embark on extensive bilateral nuclear co-operation. The dividends that can be expected of such co-operation are not only in the area of economics and scientific and technical development, but also in mutual confidence. With the bilateral openness broadening to an international transparency through acceptance of comprehensive IAEA safeguards the path was opened to ratification of the Tlatelolco Treaty as recently amended. If, as seems to be expected, Cuba were to join the Tlatelolco Treaty, that Treaty would enter fully into force and Latin America would have formally and legally renounced nuclear weapons and nuclear explosives.

An important milestone was the signature in Vienna in December 1991 of a quadripartite safeguards agreement between Argentina, Brazil, the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) and the IAEA. The Argentine Parliament approved the agreement last year and we welcome that the lower house of the Brazilian Congress approved it last week - together with the amendments to the Tlatelolco Treaty.

Meanwhile discussions have taken place among the four parties about the implementation approach, including the verification of the Initial Report and about the subsidiary arrangements. The co-operation with Argentina, Brazil and ABACC has been intense and fruitful, with visits to the IAEA and seminars and training of operation and inspection staff. I myself and the Deputy Director General for Safeguards, Mr. Pellaud, visited Brasilia and Rio last month to discuss principal points in the future safeguards arrangements with Ministers and with the Argentine-Brazilian leadership of ABACC. A strong and effective ABACC will facilitate the Agency's task of performing comprehensive safeguards and of reaching independent conclusions. Even so the safeguarding of the broad and advanced nuclear programmes of these two large States will place added demands on the Agency resources. I have assured the representatives of the two countries that far from hampering nuclear scientific and technical development, comprehensive IAEA safeguards are likely to facilitate such development by removing some obstacles to international cooperation. Extensive talks have taken place in Rio de Janeiro recently on the subsidiary arrangements to the quadripartite agreement, and I am pleased to tell you that not many points remain to be resolved.

Safeguards in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union

In anticipation of their adherence to the NPT, a great deal of preparatory work has been undertaken for the introduction of comprehensive safeguards in States of the former Soviet Union. It is of central importance, of course, that effective national systems of nuclear accountancy and control be established and be compatible with the Agency's safeguards system. Both individual Member States and the Agency's Secretariat have helped to provide information and equipment and to organize seminars on these matters. A coordinated support programme for the newly independent States with substantial nuclear programmes is currently being developed, with IAEA participation. Fact-finding missions and technical visits have allowed Agency staff to familiarize themselves with the nuclear installations which are expected to come under safeguards. Actual implementation of safeguards must, however, await the conclusion of formal safeguards agreements. To date only one such agreement has come into force - with Lithuania.

It is obvious that the introduction of comprehensive safeguards in these countries will give a considerable amount of additional work to the IAEA.

I turn now to potential uses of IAEA experience and resources for verification of the peaceful use of nuclear material and installations.

The application of safeguards in a future nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East

There is no way of knowing when the parties to the present peace negotiations in the Middle East will be able to agree on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. There is, however, a keen interest in the region in examining appropriate modalities of applying safeguards verification in such a zone and I have been charged under GC(XXXVI)/RES/601 to continue consultations to facilitate the early application of full-scope Agency safeguards to all nuclear activities in the region.

As you will see from the Report which I have submitted - GC(XXXVII)/1072 - I have continued my consultations with States in the region during the past year by requesting their written comments and by personally visiting some States - Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

With a view to familiarizing relevant experts from the Middle East with the many questions of effective verification of a nuclear-weapon-free zone, the Agency also arranged a Workshop from 4 to 7 May on "The Modalities for the Application of Safeguards in a Future Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East". The lectures given in this workshop are now compiled into a compendium in order for it to reach a broader audience.

As I have stated in the report, it is clear that the long-standing tension between parties in the region can be dissipated only through the combined effects of many different types of measures including political and military confidence building. The nuclear activities of each party will be the subject of interest of all parties and the climate of confidence will be affected by the way in which these activities are pursued and verified. Legally binding commitments by every party for an elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and for the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy, will be vital elements. In addition, ways must be found in which reasonable guarantees can be created for reliance on such commitments and for the early discovery of departures from them should such occur. This is where an effective verification system comes in. It should also not be ignored that there is some experience in the world - notably among European countries and between Argentina and Brazil - pointing to the usefulness of active co-operation between parties in the nuclear field to create confidence through both openness and interdependence.

Recent developments in the peace process in the Middle East provide hope that the positive attitude among all the parties in the Middle East to a nuclear-weapon-free zone could be translated by them in due course into an agreement. The Agency's Secretariat remains ready to provide whatever assistance may be deemed useful by the parties in the Middle East to facilitate implementation of the resolution adopted by the General Conference. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has recently stressed the importance of assistance by the UN system in connection with the accord between Israel and the PLO. Regional cooperation projects involving nuclear techniques might be a useful instrument for confidence building.

An International Regime for the Management of Plutonium and HEU

Article XII:A:5 of the Agency's Statute contains provisions about "the deposit with the Agency of any excess of any special fissionable materials ...". It is evident that the current process of nuclear disarmament in the US and Russia, as well as the ongoing reprocessing of spent civilian nuclear fuel, will lead to substantial quantities of plutonium and high enriched uranium which have to be stored before they are used or otherwise disposed of. There is a clear international interest that such storage take place under conditions of adequate physical security, nuclear safety and - not least - under conditions which provide a very high degree of assurance that the fissionable material will not be diverted or - in the case of material recovered from the military sector - returned to use in weapons or explosives.

An agreement on an international regime for the management of plutonium and highly enriched uranium might be a means of achieving this. The Secretariat has undertaken some work to prepare for discussion of these issues, should some member governments wish to examine the advantages, problems and modalities of such a regime. Clearly the safeguards experience of the Agency would be a major element in such a regime. How heavy a burden a regime of this kind would place on the Agency would of course depend on the modalities of the regime and the quantities of fissionable material States would want to place under it.

A Verified Cut-Off of Production of Fissionable Material for Use in Weapons or Explosives

A verified cut-off of production of plutonium and high enriched uranium for weapons or other explosive purposes has been under international discussion for many years. In the present international climate this discussion could lead to concrete proposals for an agreement involving all States on an equal basis. The premise would be that there is more than enough of weapons-useable material and no need for further production of such material. Methods and techniques of verification exist but they may need to be further developed. One must be aware, however, that should IAEA safeguards be applied to the operation or dismantling of all installations capable of such production, the added workload of verification would be large. It would probably have to be assumed stepwise and it would require adequate funding.

A complete test ban agreement

Among the arms control measures now subject to international discussion, is an agreement on a complete ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and other explosives. It has been suggested that the IAEA might be given a central role in the verification of such an agreement. Some old and some new techniques for safeguards verification, e.g. environmental sampling - might indeed be valuable in the verification of a complete test ban. Although the Agency has not had an international role in the central verification method discussed for a complete test ban, that of seismic measurements, the Agency does have some experience and expertise in this area. With some added capacity, it could probably undertake the task of compiling and co-ordinating information provided by national institutions about seismological measurements - the so-called clearing house function.

NPT Conference 1995

The Agency is called upon to participate in the preparation of the 1995 NPT Conference, which will review the operation of the Treaty and decide on its extension. The Agency will prepare the customary reports on its own role in the operation of some of the articles under the Treaty. There is little doubt, however, that the most important contributions which the Agency can make to that Treaty are the strengthening of the effectiveness and credibility of the safeguards applied under the Treaty, extending safeguards to the new parties to the Treaty and continued promotion of a transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Finances, Budget, Programme, Personnel

I should like to conclude with a few brief comments on matters relating to the Agency's finances, budget, programme and personnel.

The financial situation of the Agency remains precarious. We have avoided crises only because the substantial shortfalls in budgetary contributions to our activities have been met by a curtailment in or deferment of activities, amounting to a 12% cut in expenditures in 1993. Although the seriousness and size of the present shortfall is mainly attributable to arrears of a major contributor, I am bound to note that an almost across-the-board improvement of discipline is needed to pay, to pay fully and to pay on time.

The budget for 1994 marks almost a decade of zero real growth. While it is evident that important demands which represent priorities for one group or the other have not been responded to, I think we can take pride in the fact that so many new needs of governments for international action in the nuclear field have been met in our programme. We must also be aware that some vital activities are financed, not through the Regular Budget where they should properly have been accommodated, but through voluntary extrabudgetary contributions.

When resources are so scarce, it becomes particularly important that they be used to satisfy the interests of different groups of Members in an equitable and balanced manner. Resolutions 587 and 596 of the General Conference last year remind us of this. The lengthy process in which the programme and budget are ironed out in interaction between Members and the Secretariat provides the best means of securing a balance accepted by all. The Secretariat, for its part, is committed to drafting and implementing a programme that seeks to satisfy the priority interests of all groups.

Skill in perceiving and identifying the needs of different Members, innovation in devising means of responding to these needs and effectiveness in action can only be achieved if the organization is staffed by broadly recruited and highly competent professionals and a dedicated general service staff. All Groups and Members will not be happy with every recruitment decision. There are still under-represented countries and groups. However, I can assure you that I shall do my best both to maintain the highest level of professional competence and a broad geographical basis for recruitment. The success of this effort must be judged over a period of time. Above all, the success must be gauged by the quality of the service that the Secretariat provides the organization. In this regard I feel confident. By financial necessity we are understaffed, but we are well staffed in terms of quality to meet the many challenges facing the Agency and to perform the tasks which Member Governments may wish to lay upon us.

Finally, I want to express my thanks to the Government of Austria and the City of Vienna for their hospitality.

More

Last update: 26 Nov 2019

Resources

  1. Employment
  2. Women
  3. Press

Stay in touch

Newsletter