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Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty ahead of the Review Conference in 2020

New York, United States of America
United Nations Security Council Briefing

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano briefs the Security Council meeting on Non-proliferation and supporting the Non-proliferation Treaty ahead of the 2020 Review Conference.  (Evan Schneider / UN New York)

(As prepared for delivery)

Mr President,

Let me begin by thanking you for taking the initiative to host this important meeting on strengthening the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

As you know, the last NPT Review Conference in 2015 did not reach consensus on a Final Document.

The previous Final Document, in 2010, recognized that “IAEA safeguards are a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, play an indispensable role in the implementation of the Treaty and help to create an environment conducive to nuclear cooperation.”

It also underlined the role of the Agency in assisting developing countries in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

With our Atoms for Peace and Development mandate, the Agency has supported the United Nations in all NPT Review Conferences. I believe our dual role of nuclear verification and assisting with peaceful uses is highly relevant to States Parties to the NPT.

Mr President,

The IAEA now implements safeguards in 182 countries, 179 of which are NPT States Parties.

Non-nuclear-weapon States are required under the NPT to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA. They must declare all nuclear material in peaceful nuclear activities.

The safeguards conclusions drawn by the Agency, which are based on our independent verification and findings, provide credible assurance to the international community that States are abiding by their safeguards obligations.

In 1997, the IAEA Board of Governors approved the model additional protocol, generally known as the AP.

This is a powerful verification tool that gives the Agency broader access to information about all parts of a State’s nuclear fuel cycle. It also gives our inspectors greater access to sites and locations, in some cases with as little as two hours’ notice.

When I became IAEA Director General in 2009, only 94 countries were implementing the AP. Today, 134 countries have brought APs into force. This is very encouraging. However, the combination of comprehensive safeguards agreement and the AP needs to become universal.

I encourage States Parties to the NPT without comprehensive safeguards agreements in force to bring such agreements into force without delay. I also ask all countries that have not yet done so to bring into force, and implement, additional protocols.

Mr President,

The steady increase in the amount of nuclear material and the number of nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, and continuing pressure on our regular budget, are among the key challenges facing the Agency today.

Under the IAEA Statute, inspections must be financed through the regular budget. For some years, our regular budget has had close to zero increases and this year it has actually been cut. If our regular budget continues to suffer cuts in the coming years, this could seriously affect our nuclear verification activities.

Mr President,

The nuclear programmes of Iran and the DPRK remain among the top items on the Agency’s agenda.

The IAEA has focused on Iran’s nuclear activities since 2002. In December 2015, I presented a Final Assessment on past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme to the IAEA Board.

I stated that Iran had conducted a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device before the end of 2003. However, these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. I also stated that we had no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.

Since January 2016, the Agency has been verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In my regular reports to the Board, I have stated that Iran is implementing those commitments. It is essential that Iran continues to fully implement its commitments. Our inspectors have had access to all the sites and locations in Iran which they needed to visit.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its NPT Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue.

The implementation in Iran of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, Additional Protocol, and additional transparency measures under the JCPOA amounts to the most robust verification system in existence anywhere in the world.

Mr President,

It is almost 10 years since IAEA inspectors were required to leave North Korea. The Agency continues to monitor the DPRK’s nuclear programme and evaluate all safeguards-relevant information available to it, including open-source information and satellite imagery.

In the past 10 years, the DPRK’s nuclear programme has significantly expanded. The country announced in 2009 that it would start uranium enrichment and build a light water reactor. In 2013, it announced that it would take measures to readjust and restart all the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.

Since then, the Agency has observed indications of the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor and reprocessing plant, the extension of the building housing the reported centrifuge enrichment facility, and the construction of the light water reactor. Since 2009, the DPRK has announced on five separate occasions that it had conducted a nuclear test, in addition to the one announced in 2006.

Over the past year, activities at some facilities continued or developed further, while some other facilities appeared not to be operating. I report regularly on these activities to our Board. However, without access, the Agency cannot confirm the nature and purpose of these activities. 

The IAEA closely follows international developments on the DPRK nuclear issue. We hope that these processes will lead to an agreement and to the implementation of concrete denuclearization measures.

The Agency does not have a role in political negotiations among countries concerned. However, it is important that any agreement on denuclearization is accompanied by an effective and sustainable verification mechanism.

The IAEA, with its long experience and well-established practices, is the only international organization that can verify and monitor denuclearization in an impartial, independent and objective manner. This would help to make the implementation of any agreement sustainable. It would also contribute to the denuclearization of the DPRK in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as required by numerous resolutions of the Security Council.

Since 2017, the Agency has intensified its efforts to monitor the DPRK nuclear programme and enhanced its readiness to undertake verification and monitoring activities in the DPRK if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned. Subject to the approval of our Board of Governors, we could respond within weeks to any request to send inspectors back to the DPRK.

Mr President,

Let me note briefly that the IAEA makes an important contribution to the establishment of a world free of nuclear weapons in a number of ways.

We assist States in creating nuclear-weapon-free zones, which already cover vast regions of the world.

In 2012, for example, the Agency provided background documentation to the facilitator for the United Nations Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. It described the work undertaken by the IAEA and the experience gained concerning modalities for a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

If requested by Member States, the IAEA can play a role in nuclear disarmament by sharing its experience in the implementation of verification.

Mr President,

The IAEA technical cooperation programme is the main vehicle for the transfer of nuclear technology, based on the Agency’s Statute and on requests from Member States. While the focus of our technical cooperation work is on developing nations, we provide assistance to all IAEA Member States.

The Agency helps to improve the health and prosperity of millions of people by making nuclear science and technology available in health care, food and agriculture, industry and many other areas.

An extensive modernisation of our nuclear applications laboratories at Seibersdorf, near Vienna, is nearly complete, thanks to generous contributions from many Member States.

This will enable us to deliver improved services to Member States to make food safer, improve control of harmful insect pests, and maximize the benefits of new radiation technology for cancer treatment – to name just a few examples.

Helping countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, using relevant nuclear technology, is an important part of our work. In fact, the IAEA helps countries to use nuclear science and technology to meet at least nine of the 17 SDGs directly.

The IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative, launched in 2010, provides additional funds for our technical cooperation activities. It has helped to raise over 140 million euros for around 300 projects that benefit more than 150 countries. I am grateful to all the countries that support this valuable initiative.

Mr President,

Nuclear power can help to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Today, nuclear power produces 10 percent of the world’s electricity. But when it comes to low-carbon electricity, nuclear generates almost one third of the global total.

The Agency’s latest annual projections show that nuclear power will continue to play a key role in the world’s low-carbon energy mix. However, without significant progress on using the full potential of nuclear power, it will be difficult for the world to secure sufficient energy to achieve sustainable development and to mitigate climate change.

Mr President,

Utmost attention to safety and security is essential in all uses of nuclear and radiation technologies. Nuclear safety and security are national responsibilities, but the IAEA plays the central role in helping countries to cooperate effectively in these areas.

We continue to assess the effectiveness of Agency peer review and advisory services in nuclear safety and security so that they can better support Member States in the application of IAEA safety standards and security guidance.

Our work in nuclear security is one of our high priority issues. By helping to prevent nuclear and other radioactive material from falling into the hands of terrorists or other criminals, the Agency makes an additional important contribution to international security.

The next IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security will take place at ministerial level in Vienna in February 2020.

Mr President,

By undertaking the activities I have outlined, the IAEA delivers concrete results for the benefit of our 171 Member States. Effective and efficient management has been the driving force behind the many achievements in which we take pride. I am working hard to increase the representation of women, especially at senior levels.

I am confident that States Parties to the NPT, most of whom are also IAEA Member States, will continue to derive great benefit from the work of the Agency.

I hope that the 2020 NPT Review Conference will be a success and will make an important contribution to strengthening international peace and security.  

Thank you.

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