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Statement to Sixtieth Regular Session of IAEA General Conference 2016

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

Mr President,

I am very pleased to welcome all participants to the 60th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This is a significant milestone in our history. The Agency has achieved a lot in the past six decades.

By making nuclear science and technology available to improve human well-being and prosperity, we have made a real difference to the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

We have also made a unique contribution to international peace and security through our work to verify that nuclear material remains in peaceful uses.

The Agency was given special recognition in 2005 with the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded jointly to the Agency and to my distinguished predecessor Dr Mohamed ElBaradei.

I pay tribute to all of my predecessors for their enormous contributions to shaping the organization that we are proud to serve today. 

Mr President,

A key area of IAEA activity from the start has been to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons by monitoring nuclear material and facilities.

Over the years, we have dealt with some of the most critical issues on the international agenda. These include nuclear verification in Iraq, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Today, the IAEA implements safeguards in 181 States, 173 of which have Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements in force.

As Director General, I have encouraged countries to implement the additional protocol, a powerful verification tool that gives the Agency greater access to information and locations.

The number of countries with additional protocols in force has risen to 128 today from 93 in 2009.

The Agency worked from 2003 onwards to verify Iran’s nuclear programme. We reported regularly on Iran’s implementation of its safeguards agreement with the Agency, and of UN Security Council resolutions. Last year, we provided a clear, factual assessment of Iran’s past nuclear activities.

The work of the Agency was indispensable in paving the way for the diplomatic breakthrough achieved last year in the form of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

We are now verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under that agreement.

The fact that the Agency enjoyed the confidence of all parties in this very complex issue is a tribute to the professionalism, objectivity and impartiality of our inspectors.

Mr President,

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

To take just one example – improving access to effective cancer treatment in developing countries has been a high priority for Member States, the Agency and for me personally.

Through our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy – PACT – and other activities, we help countries to devise comprehensive cancer control programmes.

Real progress has been made in recent years in Africa, in particular. New specialist cancer centres have been established. Radiation oncologists and medical physicists are returning home after receiving intensive training abroad with the support of the Agency.

But the needs remain great and the Agency will maintain its focus on cancer control as a priority issue.

Cancer is only one of many areas in which the IAEA contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We are also helping countries to achieve the goals concerning poverty and hunger, clean water, affordable and clean energy, and climate change. These are all areas in which nuclear science and technology can make an important contribution.

The Joint FAO/IAEA Division has generated more than 3,200 new varieties of foods such as wheat and rice, using nuclear techniques. This has improved global food security.

We contributed to the eradication of the cattle disease Rinderpest, which is only the second infectious disease – after smallpox – to have been eradicated globally.

And we have helped to make nuclear power available to countries that wish to use it, and to strengthen nuclear safety and security throughout the world.

In all of these areas, capacity building is of vital importance.

Since 1958, more than 48,000 scientists and engineers have held fellowships and scientific visitor positions through the IAEA technical cooperation programme, both at the Agency’s laboratories, and in the facilities of our partners around the world.

Many of these scientists and engineers went on to play a key role in building capacity in nuclear science in their countries.

The Agency’s activities need to be supported by adequate funding. The Peaceful Uses Initiative, launched in 2010 as a complementary funding mechanism to the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund, has proven to be very effective in raising additional resources.

I am very pleased to inform you that total PUI funding to date has just exceeded 100 million euros. I am very grateful to all the countries that have contributed and helped us to deliver our Atoms for Peace and Development mission.

Mr President,

When I first took up office, I stated that nuclear power should not be the preserve of developed countries and that developing countries should also be able to use it.

Nuclear power can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy security, while delivering energy in the large and growing quantities needed for development.

Today, some 30 developing countries are considering introducing nuclear power. The first of four nuclear power reactors in the United Arab Emirates is expected to come on line in 2017.

If countries opt for nuclear power, we support them actively at every step of their journey so they can use it safely, securely and sustainably.

The IAEA coordinated the international response to the most serious accidents at nuclear power plants – at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima Daiichi in 2011.

After the Fukushima Daiichi accident, we quickly convened a ministerial conference which led to the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. This helped to bring about a significant improvement in nuclear safety throughout the world.

Last year, I released my report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, along with five technical volumes. It will serve as the key reference document for many years to come. 

In future, we plan to give increased attention to issues such as the safety of radioactive sources used in industry, health care and other non-power applications.

We can never be complacent about nuclear safety. A robust safety culture must be maintained everywhere.

Mr President,

The IAEA is recognised as the global platform for strengthening nuclear security. Countries increasingly seek our help in minimizing the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists.

We have trained thousands of police officers and border guards in nuclear security, supplied thousands of radiation detection devices and helped countries to address weaknesses in security at facilities.

In 2013, we organised the first international conference on nuclear security, at ministerial level, that was open to all Member States. The next ministerial conference will take place in December. I encourage all countries to be represented at ministerial level.

We worked hard to encourage countries to adhere to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

This is a key nuclear security instrument, which finally came into force in May this year, 11 years after it was adopted.

Implementation of the amended Convention will help to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack involving nuclear material, which could have catastrophic consequences.

Mr President,

Membership of the IAEA continues to grow.

I welcome three countries that have joined us in the past 12 months – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Turkmenistan. They bring our membership to 168 nations.

I also welcome the applications for membership of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Islamic Republic of the Gambia, which are on the agenda of the General Conference.

This continued growth shows that the IAEA remains an organization that delivers.

Mr President,

In recent years, the Agency has constantly adapted to the changing needs of Member States. Despite a difficult economic environment, we have continued to invest for the future.

We completed two new state-of-the-art safeguards laboratories at Seibersdorf, within budget.

We launched a project to modernise the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories, known as ReNuAL, and construction of two new buildings at Seibersdorf has started.

Construction of a new IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan has also begun. This will give countries confidence that they will be able to obtain nuclear fuel for reactors in the event of disruption to existing fuel supply arrangements.

Mr President,

Sound management has been key to the Agency’s successes in recent years.

As a technical organisation dealing with advanced nuclear technology, we have handled the often sensitive issues on our agenda impartially and objectively.

We have demonstrated our ability to successfully manage costly major projects such as the modernisation of the safeguards laboratories and the planned launch of the LEU Bank.

We have responded swiftly to crises such as Ebola and Zika.

We have maintained high standards of integrity. We significantly increased the proportion of women in senior positions, although more needs to be done in this area.

We can take pride in our achievements, but we continue to face major challenges.

Verification and monitoring in Iran has just begun and will continue for many years to come.

The nuclear programme of the DPRK, which has carried out two more nuclear tests this year, remains a matter of serious concern. It is a growing threat to peace and security in north-east Asia and beyond.

The Agency maintains its readiness to resume its verification work in the DPRK once political developments make this possible.

Member States seek increasing assistance from the Agency in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in energy and other key areas. Our work in this area does not receive the recognition it deserves.

Member States want us to provide more help in nuclear safety and security.

They also expect us to continue to manage our limited financial resources prudently, and with maximum impact.

It is essential to maintain the momentum in all areas of our work in the coming years. I would be honoured to provide the necessary continuity should Member States again place their confidence in me as Director General.

I have informed the Chairman of the Board of my availability to serve another term.

The Agency has a remarkably broad mandate, covering many disparate areas, which needs to be implemented in a balanced manner.

As Director General, I will continue to focus on delivering concrete results, timely decision-making, responsiveness to Member State needs, and sound management.

Mr President,

Let me conclude by thanking all IAEA Member States for their active support for our work, and for me personally. The full engagement of Member States is one of the keys to the success of the Agency.

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

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

Thank you, Mr President.



Last update: 25 Nov 2019

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