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29 November 2012 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors

Introductory Statement to Board of Governors

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to begin by informing the Board about my visit to Ethiopia earlier this month. I visited the headquarters of the African Union to address the Second Conference of States Parties to the Pelindaba Treaty. I complimented the countries of Africa on their success in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone covering the entire continent. I also took the opportunity to meet the Government of Ethiopia and senior officials from the African Union to discuss their cooperation with the Agency in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

My visit to Addis Ababa once again brought home to me the very real needs that many developing countries have in areas such as cancer treatment, control of human and animal diseases, water management, and food production and safety. The scale of their needs can sometimes appear daunting. But it is very encouraging to see the important impact which IAEA technical cooperation projects can have.

Tsetse fly eradication in Southern Ethiopia is a good example of a project which is likely to have a significant impact on farmers' lives and on agricultural output in the region. Tsetse flies are not just a direct threat to animal health. They also render huge stretches of fertile land unusable because it is too risky for humans and livestock to be in infected areas.

After years of difficulty, the tsetse eradication project in Southern Ethiopia has made good progress this year. Weekly releases of sterilised male tsetse flies began in April. I gained a better understanding of the size and complexity of the project when I visited the tsetse rearing and irradiation facility at Kaliti.

My counterparts at the African Union stressed the importance of countries working together on common problems such as this. The tsetse fly situation differs from country to country but the same technology can be used in response. As you may know, the IAEA has been working for many years with the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomosis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) to tackle this serious problem across the entire continent. The Agency is firmly committed to making this ambitious project a success.

Mr. Chairman,

I thought this might serve as a useful introduction to your discussions on one of the main items on your Agenda - the Agency's Technical Cooperation Programme for 2013, as conveyed by the TACC to the Board. It might help us to keep in mind the human needs that lie behind the figures.

This is the second year of the current two-year TC cycle. The document before you presents the budget for 2013 and proposals for two footnote-a/ projects for Palau, a new Member State. Nuclear safety and security, food and agriculture, and health and nutrition remain the top three core funded priorities for Member States, accounting for around 68% of the 2013 programme budget.

Preparations for the 2014-2015 TC programme cycle are well underway. Member States have already submitted project concepts and received our feedback. I welcome the reduction in the number of concepts submitted as we work together towards fewer but larger projects with greater impact. I encourage the development of large, multi-country projects in which Member States, the Agency and other partners can join forces to tackle pressing transboundary development challenges. I believe this approach benefits all the countries concerned, both large and small. A good example of this is our project on water management in the Sahel region.

The Technical Cooperation programme remains the primary mechanism for the delivery of IAEA services to Member States. The programme is designed to be flexible and responsive to their needs. I remind you all of the importance of contributing, on time and in full, to the Technical Cooperation Fund. I remain concerned about the falling rate of attainment, which affected our ability to carry out planned project activities last year, and which could affect implementation in the new cycle.

Much of the science and research that underpins our Technical Cooperation programme is conducted by the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications. I highlighted our work in food security at the Scientific Forum in September, which was entitled Food for the Future: Meeting the Challenges with Nuclear Applications. Scientists and experts from around the world discussed the role of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture and considered efforts by the IAEA and its partners to improve food security worldwide. It was clear that significant capabilities in the use of nuclear sciences and technologies have now been established in many Member States, with the assistance of the IAEA. But, of course, there remains considerable demand for Agency support.

Yesterday, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf. I thank the many Governors and other Member State representatives who came to show their appreciation for the work done at the labs. Our laboratories are unique within the UN system, providing R&D, capacity-building and analytical services which are greatly valued by Member States. We have seen tremendous successes at Seibersdorf in the past half-century. As I informed the General Conference in September, we plan to modernize the laboratories in the next few years to ensure they can provide the best services to Member States. I also plan to establish a Cancer Training Centre in Seibersdorf. This will build on the existing training offered by the IAEA Dosimetry Laboratory.

Cancer control remains a high priority for the Agency and for Member States. We continue to see strong demand for IAEA imPACT reviews - integrated missions of our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy. I am grateful for the increasing funding which we have received through the Peaceful Uses Initiative and in the form of voluntary contributions from individual countries. Thirteen imPACT Reviews have been conducted so far this year, bringing to 47 the number of Member States which have received them. These reviews have helped several countries to improve their radiotherapy capacity-building through integrated cancer control planning approaches.

Nuclear Safety and Security

Mr. Chairman,

I will now update the Board on recent developments in nuclear safety and security, starting with implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. My report on this has been circulated.

More than a year since the adoption of the Plan, significant progress has been made, especially in the areas of peer reviews and emergency preparedness. Demand for IAEA peer reviews remains high. Our services have been strengthened since the Fukushima Daiichi accident and we are working continuously with Member States to make further improvements. Numerous missions have been conducted in all areas of nuclear safety this year, including eight OSART - Operational Safety Review - missions. We also carried out eight Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) missions, the largest number in a single year since this programme began. Virtually all Member States with nuclear power plants have conducted stress tests.

As Japan proceeds with clean-up work in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, it can count on the continued support of the Agency and of other Member States. Considerable specialist knowledge and expertise are available in areas such as decontamination, disposal of spent fuel and dismantling damaged reactors. International cooperation is needed to ensure that the best available technology is used. This will enhance the transparency and credibility of the remediation process.

Next month, the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, organized by the Government of Japan and the IAEA, will take place in Fukushima Prefecture. It will provide another opportunity to share further knowledge and lessons learned from the accident. I encourage all Member States to participate. On this occasion, I will express my intention to implement cooperative projects with the Fukushima Prefecture in the areas of radiation remediation and human health. These projects are mutually beneficial and will be financed by voluntary contributions from the Japanese Government.

Preparatory work has begun on the comprehensive IAEA report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, which I announced in September. The report, which will be finalised in 2014, will be a major undertaking, requiring considerable technical expertise and funding. I count on Member States with the necessary resources and expertise to make these available.

An International Experts' Meeting on Decommissioning and Remediation after a Nuclear Accident will be held from 28 January-1 February 2013 in Vienna. This is one of a number of expert meetings which will take place next year.

Preparations are well underway for the International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century in St Petersburg, Russia, next June. The Conference will provide an opportunity for high-level discussions, among ministers as well as leaders from the nuclear power sector, about the contribution of nuclear power to sustainable development. I encourage active participation by all sides.

Good progress has also been made in preparing for the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security in July 2013. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, His Excellency Mr. Janos Martonyi, has indicated his availability to serve as President of this Conference. I am grateful for this encouraging sign of support. I encourage all countries to participate at ministerial level to underline the growing international political commitment to achieving tangible improvements in nuclear security. Broad ministerial participation will help to add political weight to this important Conference. Outcomes will also be reflected in the IAEA Nuclear Security Plan for 2014–2017.

Nuclear Verification

Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols
Turning now to nuclear verification, since my last report to the Board, Vietnam and Iraq have brought additional protocols into force. I visited Baghdad several weeks ago and congratulated the Government of Iraq for bringing this important instrument into force. This is a positive example of best practice for countries in the region and beyond.

The number of States with additional protocols in force now stands at 119. I urge remaining States to conclude additional protocols as soon as possible. I am writing to the 13 States party to the NPT which do not have comprehensive safeguards agreements in force asking them to bring such agreements into force without delay. I also call on States with small quantities protocols that have not yet done so to amend or rescind their protocols.

ECAS Project
Construction of the Nuclear Material Laboratory in Seibersdorf remains on schedule and within budget. I thank the Member States which announced extrabudgetary contributions to the ECAS project during the General Conference. I encourage all Member States which are in a position to contribute to do so.

We will hold an informal technical briefing on the status of the ECAS project on Tuesday, 11 December. Member State representatives will have an opportunity to travel to the site, put on hard hats and tour the new building. I encourage Governors and representatives of all Member States to participate.

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Mr. Chairman,

I remain seriously concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As you are aware, the Agency has not been able to implement any safeguards in the country since April 2009.

In my last report to the Board, I said that statements by the DPRK about uranium enrichment activities and the construction of a light water reactor were deeply troubling. Since then, the DPRK has continued construction of the light water reactor and largely completed work on the exterior of the main buildings. However, the Agency remains unable to determine the reactor's design features or the likely date for its commissioning. Similarly, while the Agency continues to monitor the reported uranium enrichment facility, using satellite imagery, its configuration and operational status cannot be established.

The Agency is ready to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme. I again call upon the DPRK to fully comply with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, and with the NPT, and to cooperate promptly and fully with the Agency.

Implementation of Safeguards in Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr. Chairman,

The Agency has continued its intensive efforts to resolve all of the outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme. However, no concrete results have been achieved. I am unable to report any progress on clarifying the issues relating to possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme.

We continue to seek agreement with Iran on the structured approach to resolve the outstanding issues. The next meeting between Iran and the Agency will take place in Tehran on 13 December.

As you will recall, the Agency has information indicating that Iran constructed a large explosives containment vessel at the Parchin site in which to conduct hydrodynamic experiments. Despite repeated requests, Iran has still not granted the Agency access to the Parchin site.

Satellite imagery shows that extensive activities, including the removal and replacement of considerable quantities of earth, have taken place at this location. I am concerned that these activities will have seriously undermined the Agency's ability to undertake effective verification. I reiterate my request that Iran, without further delay, provide access to that location and substantive answers to the Agency's detailed questions regarding the Parchin site and the foreign expert.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

Mr. Chairman,

It is now one year since I spelled out in detail the basis for the Agency's concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme. However, we have not been able to reach agreement with Iran on the structured approach. In the meantime, Iran has continued to enrich uranium up to five per cent and 20 per cent, and has expanded its enrichment capacity, contrary to resolutions of the Agency's Board of Governors and of the UN Security Council. The structured approach, which has been under negotiation for almost a year, should be agreed and implemented immediately, with concrete, tangible results.

The IAEA is firmly committed to dialogue. There is an opportunity to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically. Now is the time for all of us to work with a sense of urgency and seize the opportunity for a diplomatic solution.

Implementation of NPT Safeguards Agreement in Syrian Arab Republic
As far as implementation of safeguards in the Syrian Arab Republic is concerned, there have been no new developments since my last report to the Board. I renew my call to Syria to cooperate fully with us in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations.

Management Issues

Mr. Chairman,

Turning briefly to management issues, information security and maintenance of confidentiality continue to be of the utmost importance. We have undertaken a number of initiatives to strengthen information security. Next year, I intend to submit to the Board a report providing an overview of the Agency's information security policy and measures taken in this regard.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I will say a few words about the Programme and Budget for 2014–2015.

We are preparing budget estimates to be discussed at the meeting of the Programme and Budget Committee next May. I have instructed Major Programmes to identify lower-priority projects and areas where efficiencies can be realized. There are, however, new needs and priorities for the next biennium which need to be financed. Priority areas will be technical cooperation and nuclear safety and security. Additional demands for Agency services may result in a proposal for a modest budget increase.

I hope to provide Member States with overall budget estimates and programmatic priorities at an informal meeting of the Programme and Budget Committee in February 2013.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.