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Statement to Fifty-Ninth Regular Session of IAEA General Conference 2015

Vienna, Austria
Fifty-Ninth Regular Session of IAEA General Conference 2015

Mr President,

I will begin by welcoming Guyana, the Republic of Djibouti and Vanuatu as new Member States which have joined the Agency since the last General Conference. This brings our membership to 165 countries.

Mr President,

Next week, world leaders will meet at the United Nations Summit in New York to adopt 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. The IAEA participated actively in the process that led to their development. There are clear links between the new goals and the work of the Agency. Areas covered by both include energy, food security, nutrition, human health and environmental protection, as well as the management of water resources.

I very much welcome the fact that there is explicit recognition in the new development goals of the importance of science and technology in advancing development. I have stressed the importance of science and technology for development since I became Director General and I will continue to do so. The Agency has so much to offer in this area that I often summarise our work as Atoms for Peace and Development. We make peaceful nuclear technology available to improve the welfare and prosperity of the people of the world.

Since the last General Conference, we have continued to contribute effectively to the development needs of Member States by transferring nuclear technology through our technical cooperation programme. The Peaceful Uses Initiative, launched five years ago as a complementary funding mechanism to the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund, has proven to be a very effective additional tool.

Mr President,

In addition to our ongoing technical cooperation projects, we again demonstrated our ability to respond quickly to crises in Member States.

Since the dreadful earthquake in Nepal in April, the Agency has been helping the authorities to test the safety of critical buildings such as hospitals and schools, using non-destructive testing techniques, including radiography. In an excellent example of South-South cooperation, the National Nuclear Energy Agency of Indonesia, BATAN, provided safe, irradiated food to Nepal. BATAN developed its food irradiation capacities through a Joint FAO/IAEA research project.

Following the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, we provided equipment and diagnostic kits for the rapid identification of the virus. We have since worked with countries of the region to help them build or strengthen their capacity to respond to possible future outbreaks of Ebola and other deadly diseases which can be transmitted from animals to people.

As you know, the IAEA Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy – PACT – assists Member States in integrating radiation medicine within comprehensive cancer control strategies. An innovative e-learning tool, known as the Virtual University for Cancer Control (VUCCnet), is being developed in Africa to provide high-quality expert training online to health professionals.

IAEA support has enabled Mauritania to offer diagnostic, therapeutic and treatment services to cancer patients for the first time. In Latin America, the Agency has helped to build capacity in radiation therapy, with a particular emphasis on introducing linear accelerators.

In the Philippines, we supported the establishment of a new e-beam facility which can be widely used in industry.

Mr President,

Preparations for a long-overdue renovation of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, are well underway. This is known as the ReNuAL project.

The laboratories offer training to scientists, support research in human health, food and other areas, and provide analytical services to national laboratories. Almost all IAEA Member States receive support from the laboratories.

Designs for two new laboratory buildings have been completed. The site is now being prepared for construction, with work on the new infrastructure to begin this year, and construction of the Insect Pest Control Laboratory to start early next year. The target date for completion of the Insect Pest Control Laboratory is the end of 2017. Construction of the second lab, the Flexible Modular Laboratory, can begin once sufficient extrabudgetary funding is available.

ReNuAL is a very important project. The laboratories are the engine of much of the technical support which we provide to Member States. I thank the Member States that have provided or pledged valuable support. However, much additional funding is still needed. I again call on all Member States in a position to do so to contribute generously and ensure that the Agency can continue to offer high-quality scientific support to all countries.

Mr President,

This year’s Scientific Forum, which starts tomorrow, is entitled Atoms in Industry. Participants will consider the key role which nuclear technologies play in areas ranging from the production of high-performance materials to the control of pollutants that cause disease. I encourage all countries to participate.

On Thursday, we will host an event entitled Nuclear Olympiad: Developing a Youth Talent Pipeline, which is part of our efforts to encourage young people to study nuclear science and technology. This is the first event of its kind for the Agency. I look forward to meeting the students who will present their research.

Mr President,

Many countries believe nuclear power can help them to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

At the end of this year, delegates from over 190 countries will meet in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Nuclear power is one of the lowest emitters of carbon dioxide among energy sources when emissions through entire life cycles are considered. Nuclear power has low environmental impact and leads to significant avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions. I believe that appropriate consideration should be given to nuclear power in talks on climate change mitigation which are taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Mr President,

There are now 438 nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries. Together, they provide about 11 per cent of the world’s electricity. There are 67 reactors under construction, mostly in Asia. Our latest global projections for 2030 show nuclear power either maintaining its contribution at the present level, or, possibly, growing significantly.

The Agency’s assistance to countries that are considering, starting or expanding nuclear power programmes delivers tangible results. This year, two Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review missions took place in Kenya and Nigeria. A third one is scheduled in Morocco for next month. This reflects the growing interest in peaceful nuclear technology in Africa.

We revised our key guidance document, entitled Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power, to reflect the experience of the last decade and feedback from Member States.

More than half of the world’s operating power reactors are over 30 years old, so decommissioning will become an issue of increasing importance. We will hold a conference in May next year on decommissioning and environmental remediation.

I thank the United Arab Emirates for offering to host the next IAEA Ministerial Conference on nuclear power early in 2017.

Mr President,

Last month, I signed a Host State Agreement and a related technical agreement with the Government of Kazakhstan establishing an IAEA Bank of low enriched uranium in that country. A second technical agreement was concluded with the operator of the IAEA LEU Bank.

This is a significant step forward. The legal framework is now fully in place and we can move towards full-scale implementation.

The IAEA LEU Bank will serve as a supply of last resort. It is a mechanism to provide confidence to countries that they will be able to obtain LEU to make fuel for nuclear power plants in case of an unforeseen disruption to their supplies that cannot be remedied by commercial means.

I am grateful to the Government of Kazakhstan for hosting the IAEA LEU Bank.

Mr President,

My report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident has been distributed, along with five technical volumes. A side event will be held on Thursday with the participation of experts who made important contributions to the technical volumes. I am grateful to all of the outside experts, and to my IAEA colleagues, for their work.

I believe that this IAEA report will provide a solid knowledge base for the future and will help to improve nuclear safety throughout the world. I hope that governments, regulators and nuclear power plant operators in all countries will continue to act on the lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

My fourth and final annual report on the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety shows that progress continues to be made in improving global nuclear safety. Activities highlighted under the Action Plan will continue to be addressed through the regular work of the Agency.

Mr President,

The Nuclear Security Report 2015 provides an update on the assistance which we provide to countries in strengthening their national nuclear security systems.

Our Treaty Event on Tuesday and Wednesday will, once again, have a special emphasis on the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The Amendment has moved closer to entry into force, but adherence by 14 countries is still necessary. Entry into force would reduce the likelihood of terrorists being able to detonate a dirty bomb in a major city. It would also reduce the risk of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant that could result in a release of radioactivity. I ask all countries that have not yet done so to adhere to this important nuclear security instrument as a matter of urgency.

I thank the Republic of Korea for offering to chair, at ministerial level, the next IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, which will take place in Vienna in December 2016.

Mr President,

I will now turn to nuclear verification.

The number of States with safeguards agreements in force now stands at 182, while 126 States have brought additional protocols into force. I ask non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT without comprehensive safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay. I hope that States which have not yet concluded additional protocols will do so as soon as possible.

The nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains a matter of serious concern. The Agency remains unable to undertake verification in the DPRK and our knowledge of the country’s nuclear programme is limited. Nevertheless, we have maintained our readiness to return to the DPRK, if requested to do so by the DPRK, and subject to approval by the Board.

I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations, to cooperate promptly with the Agency, and to resolve all outstanding issues, including those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country.

Mr President,

Turning now to Iran, the Board of Governors has authorised me to undertake the verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed by the E3/EU+3 countries and Iran.

As stated in the JCPOA, Iran will implement the Additional Protocol. This will give the Agency greater access to information and to sites in Iran. Implementation of the Additional Protocol is an essential prerequisite for the Agency to be able to provide, in due course, credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

Iran has also agreed under the JCPOA to implement additional transparency measures, which will help the Agency to have a better understanding of Iran’s nuclear programme.

The costs of the Agency’s work in monitoring and verifying Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA will need to be addressed, both through the Regular Budget and extrabudgetary contributions, in the coming years. I appreciate your support.

On July 14th, Iran and the Agency signed a Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme by the end of this year.

As agreed in the Road-map, Iran provided the Agency with explanations in writing, and related documents, for the clarification of the outstanding issues. We reviewed this information and submitted our questions to Iran last week.  

Mr President,

Demand for the application of Agency safeguards is growing steadily. More nuclear material and facilities are continually being brought under safeguards, and more complex facilities need to be safeguarded. However, our budget in recent years has not kept pace with developments. In order to continue to meet our legal obligations, we continually strive to become more efficient, without compromising the credibility of our safeguards conclusions. 

We have continued to engage in open dialogue with States on safeguards matters, including on the State-level concept. I updated the Board last week on recent developments and will continue to keep Member States informed. We are also undertaking a major modernization of the safeguards information technology system.

As my report on Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East shows, there remain fundamental differences of view among countries of the region on this issue. It has, therefore, not been possible to make further progress in fulfilling my mandate from the General Conference in this area. I will continue my consultations.

Mr President,

The financial difficulties in many Member States are likely to continue in the coming years. The Agency will seek to maintain a balance between budgetary constraints and the increasing demand for our services from our growing membership. We will continue our efforts to prioritise and seek efficiencies, while being careful not to put the high quality of our services to Member States at risk.

As requested by the General Conference, we have intensified our efforts to increase the number of staff recruited from developing countries, or Member States which are un-represented or under-represented, especially at senior levels.

Good progress has been made in the representation of women in the Secretariat, both in the Professional and higher categories, and in the scientific and engineering fields. The percentage of women in the Professional category among Regular Staff has risen to 27.8%. But more needs to be done.

Women make an enormous contribution to the work of the Agency at all levels. In August, the Agency co-organised for the first time the Women In Nuclear Global Conference in Vienna to showcase our work and highlight the opportunities for qualified women.

I remain committed to expanding the opportunities available to women in the Agency. I encourage all Member States to actively help us achieve the ultimate goal of equal gender representation.

Mr President,

I will conclude by thanking all IAEA Member States for their support for our work and the confidence which they have placed in me as Director General.

I am very grateful to Austria for being a model host country.

And I again express my deep appreciation to all Agency staff for their hard work and dedication.

Thank you.

Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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