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Statement to Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

Vienna Austria
Yukiya Amano

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery) 

I am pleased to welcome you all to Vienna for this 2017 PrepCom meeting ahead of the 2020 NPT Review Conference. I believe this may be the first time that an IAEA Director General has addressed a PrepCom.

Last year and this year, we have been celebrating the 60th anniversary of the IAEA.

We have looked back on the Agency’s many achievements in contributing to international peace and security, and improving the health and well-being of humankind through the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

And we have given much thought to how we can continue to serve our Member States in the coming decades by implementing our Atoms for Peace and Development mandate.

From the 26 countries which had ratified the IAEA Statute when it entered into force in July 1957, we have grown to an organisation with 168 Member States that spans the globe.

Our membership continues to increase: four new countries have joined the IAEA since the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

I believe this reflects a growing appreciation of the immense value of nuclear science and technology, and a realisation that the IAEA is an organization that delivers.

Today, I will give you a brief overview of important developments in key areas of our work relevant to the implementation of the NPT since 2015.   

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The past 60 years have demonstrated that nuclear science and technology play a significant role in supporting development.

Today, the Agency is helping countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by world leaders several months after the last Review Conference.

Developing countries are making increasing use of nuclear technology in health care, energy, food and agriculture, industry, and many other areas.

Last month, the IAEA hosted the first International Conference on the Application of Radiation Science and Technology in Vienna.

The remarkable applications presented included sterilizing human tissue for use in surgery, tackling industrial pollution and producing high-quality biodegradable food packaging. The Agency assists countries in numerous applications of radiation science and technology.

In recent years, we have demonstrated our ability to respond quickly to emergencies such as the Ebola and Zika viruses. We supplied affected countries with simple nuclear-derived kits so they could diagnose the diseases quickly and accurately in the field.

Through the Sterile Insect Technique, we help farmers to suppress, and even eradicate, harmful insect pests such as the tsetse fly and Mediterranean fruit fly.

After devastating earthquakes in Ecuador and Nepal, we sent experts in non-destructive testing techniques to assess the safety of hospitals and schools in danger of collapse.

Improving access to effective cancer treatment in developing countries remains an important focus of our work.

We work with partners such as the World Health Organization to help improve the availability of radiotherapy and nuclear medicine. We provide education and training for health professionals and sometimes supply equipment for diagnosis and treatment.

We are an active partner in the United Nations Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control, which aims to reduce cervical cancer mortality in participating countries by 25% by 2025. Our role in this important programme is to improve diagnostic capacity and access to radiotherapy, which is often an effective treatment for this disease.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IAEA technical cooperation programme is the primary mechanism for the delivery of our services to Member States. In recent years, we have had more staff funded by our regular budget to implement technical cooperation activities. This enabled us to achieve a higher implementation rate for the TC programme.

The first International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme will start in Vienna at the end of this month. The aim is to ensure greater understanding of our work on assisting sustainable development.

The Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, launched in 2010, provides additional funds for our work in this area. It has helped to raise over 100 million euros for more than 200 projects that benefit around 150 countries.

I am very grateful to all countries which have contributed and I hope to be able to continue with this valuable initiative with the support of our Member States.

I am pleased to report that modernisation of the eight IAEA nuclear applications laboratories – not far from here, in Seibersdorf – is proceeding well.

The laboratories train scientists, support research in human health, food and other areas, and provide analytical services to national laboratories. I thank donor countries for their generous contributions and I hope that Member States will continue to provide strong support for further work on this important modernisation project.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Turning to nuclear power, there are presently 449 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries. Another 60 reactors are under construction. Around two thirds of the new reactors being built are in Asia.

Nuclear power was once seen as the preserve of developed countries, but today many developing countries are interested in it.

The IAEA’s annual projections, which are based on information from Member States, indicate continued growth in nuclear power in the coming decades. But it remains to be seen whether that growth will be modest or significant.

Nuclear power is one of the lowest-carbon technologies for generating electricity. It can help to improve energy security, reduce the impact of volatile fossil fuel prices and mitigate the effects of climate change.

An important IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century will take place in Abu Dhabi in October and November this year. The venue is significant because the United Arab Emirates is about to become the first new country to join the nuclear power club for around 30 years.

The IAEA LEU Bank project in Kazakhstan continues to make good progress.

The Host State Agreement has entered into force. Construction of the LEU Storage Facility is proceeding on schedule and Kazakhstan expects to have the facility built, and ready to receive LEU, by September this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nuclear safety and security are national responsibilities, but the IAEA serves as the forum for international cooperation in these areas.

We continue to assist Japan in dealing with the consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi accident of 2011.

My report on the accident was published in August 2015, along with five technical volumes by international experts. The intention was to enable all countries to learn the lessons from the accident so they can make their nuclear facilities safer. And nuclear safety has greatly improved all over the world in the past six years. The IAEA Fukushima Daiichi Report is the key reference document related to the accident. 

Demand for IAEA support in helping countries to prevent nuclear and other radioactive material from falling into the hands of terrorists continues to grow.

We train police and border guards, provide radiation detection equipment and advise on nuclear security at major events such as the Olympic Games and World Cup soccer championships.

A key nuclear security instrument, the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), finally came into force in May 2016, 11 years after it was adopted.

The Amendment makes it legally binding for the Parties to protect nuclear facilities, as well as nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport. Its entry into force helps to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack involving nuclear material, which could have catastrophic consequences.

Last December, the second IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security took place at ministerial level in Vienna. It brought together some 2,000 participants, including more than 40 ministers, from over 130 Member States.

The Ministerial Declaration which they adopted welcomed the positive impact of the IAEA’s increasing nuclear security efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the 2010 Final Document noted, IAEA safeguards are a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and play an indispensable role in the implementation of the NPT.

We send nuclear inspectors to verify that countries are complying with their safeguards agreements. We use advanced technology that enables us to detect diversion of nuclear material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

We have state-of-the-art safeguards laboratories near Vienna which analyse samples taken during our inspections. Wherever possible, we monitor nuclear facilities remotely, in real time, using permanently installed cameras and other containment and surveillance devices.

The number of States with safeguards agreements in force stands at 182. Since the 2015 Review Conference, one country has concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement.

Four countries have brought additional protocols into force, bringing the total to 129. The additional protocol is a powerful verification tool which significantly increases the Agency's ability to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities by giving us greater access to information and locations.

I urge all NPT non-nuclear-weapon States, which have not yet done so, to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency. I also call upon States which have not yet done so to conclude, and implement, additional protocols as soon as possible.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 2015, the IAEA helped to bring about an important agreement between Iran and the group of countries known as the P5+1 – and the EU – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA.

Since implementation of the JCPOA began in January 2016, we have been verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the agreement.

The JCPOA represents a significant gain for nuclear verification. 

Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime. Our inspectors have expanded access to sites, and have more information about Iran’s nuclear programme. That programme is smaller than it was before the JCPOA came into effect.

Iran is provisionally implementing the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the Agency.

The IAEA will continue to implement safeguards in Iran with a view to being able to draw, in due course, what we call the “broader conclusion” – that all nuclear material remains in peaceful activities. This is likely to take many years.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Last year, it carried out two more nuclear tests. It continues to launch missiles and threaten other countries. This is extremely worrying.

North Korea declared its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003. Our inspectors had to leave the country in 2009.

Nevertheless, the Agency continues to work hard to collect and evaluate information regarding North Korea’s nuclear programme, including by monitoring satellite imagery as well as open-source and trade-related information.

Without direct access to relevant sites and locations, the Agency cannot confirm the operational status of North Korea’s nuclear facilities. But all the indications suggest that North Korea is making progress with its nuclear programme.

I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate with the Agency in implementing its NPT Safeguards Agreement, and to resolve all outstanding issues. Our inspectors remain ready to return to North Korea at short notice if political developments make this possible.

As far as safeguards implementation in the Syrian Arab Republic is concerned, there have been no major developments since the last Review Conference.

Our assessment remains that it was very likely that the building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site in 2007 was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared to the Agency by Syria under its Safeguards Agreement.

I continue to urge Syria to cooperate fully with the Agency in connection with all unresolved issues.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IAEA makes an important contribution to the establishment of a world free of nuclear weapons.

We do this primarily through our safeguards activities, through which we aim to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in countries. This is a valuable international confidence-building activity.

The Agency may also help to build confidence among States by making our safeguards expertise available, if requested, to verify the implementation of nuclear disarmament agreements.

We support the creation of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and help to implement them. These already cover vast regions of the world.

And through our nuclear security programme, as I mentioned earlier, we help to prevent nuclear and other radioactive material from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This concludes my remarks.

I wish you every success in your deliberations in the coming weeks at this important meeting.

Thank you.