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25 March 2014 | The Hauge, Netherlands
Nuclear Security Summit 2014

Statement at Nuclear Security Summit

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Good afternoon, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In recent years, world leaders have put the need to protect nuclear and other radioactive material from malicious acts high on the international agenda. Many of the commitments made at the first two nuclear security summits have been fulfilled.

Globally, much has been achieved in the past decade. Many countries have taken effective measures to prevent theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer, or other malicious acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material. Security has been improved at many facilities containing such material.

While the responsibility for nuclear security at the national level rests entirely with each State, the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in helping to strengthen the global nuclear security framework is widely recognized. We continue to expand the services we offer.

However, too much nuclear material still goes missing. Too many facilities are still inadequately protected. Border security remains lax in too many places. And attempts are still being made to acquire nuclear or other radioactive material with malicious intent. The threat of nuclear terrorism remains real.

As many as 150 incidents of thefts and other unauthorised activities involving nuclear and radioactive material are reported to the IAEA every year. This means the material is outside regulatory control and potentially available for malicious acts. Some material goes missing and is never found.

Most of the incidents reported to us are fairly minor, but some are more serious. Any country, in any part of the world, could find itself used as a transit point. And any country could become the target of an attack.

Effective counter-measures are possible if the threat is taken seriously.

Prevention is the first line of defence. That means proper physical protection of nuclear and other radioactive material, wherever it is. We also need effective detection and response capabilities.

Nuclear security is a national responsibility, as I mentioned. But it is also a shared responsibility of us all. Terrorists and criminals operate international networks and could strike anywhere in the world. So the response must also be international.

To ensure that all countries have a high level of preparedness, action is needed in many areas, from putting the necessary laws on the statute book and strengthening border controls, to training law enforcement officers and installing radiation detectors at ports and airports.

The IAEA, with 162 Member States, has programmes to help countries in all of these areas.

In the past four years, we trained more than 7 000 people from over 120 countries in nuclear security. We helped to secure the safe return of 950 kg of high enriched uranium to countries of origin. We helped to upgrade physical protection at 110 facilities in 34 countries. And we supplied more than 1 000 radiation detection instruments for use throughout the world.

We provide unique nuclear security guidance which all countries can make use of. We help countries to develop comprehensive Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plans tailored to their specific needs. We provide nuclear security support for major public events such as the Olympic Games and the soccer World Cup.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me highlight two areas where the leaders in this room can help.

First, bring into force the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. The Amendment was agreed in 2005, but it has still not entered into force because not enough countries have ratified it.

The original Convention protects nuclear material only while it is in international transport. The Amendment would expand its coverage to include the protection of nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport, and the protection of nuclear facilities against acts of sabotage.

Entry into force of the Amendment is an achievable goal. We need just 26 countries to ratify it. Twelve of the countries represented at this important gathering have yet to ratify the Amendment. Let all of us work together to bring this instrument into force soon.

Second, make full use of the services offered by the IAEA. This includes using IAEA nuclear security guidance and the specialist training we provide for police, customs officers and border guards.

I encourage all countries to invite the IAEA to organize expert peer reviews of their nuclear security arrangements. These have helped to improve security in many countries. Everyone benefits.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A functioning global nuclear security framework is now in place. Our goal must be to strengthen and sustain that framework and eliminate the vulnerabilities which still exist.

Last year, the IAEA hosted a global conference on nuclear security, with 125 countries taking part. This was the first such conference at ministerial level, open to all IAEA Member States, and one of the largest conferences ever held by the Agency.

Ministers adopted a Declaration with a firm commitment to strengthen nuclear security. We are building on the momentum of that event. Our Member States have agreed that the next such conference will take place in three years' time.

The IAEA will remain at the centre of international efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism. We can help you use limited resources in the most cost-effective manner.

I ask you to ensure that we have adequate funding to help meet your nuclear security needs. To help make borders more secure by installing radiation monitors, as we did in Malaysia. To help improve physical security at hospitals so radioactive sources are not stolen, as we did in Ghana. To help seize high enriched uranium from would-be smugglers, as Moldovan police did, with the help of the IAEA.

I count on your continued support for the IAEA nuclear security programme. We have the mandate, the technical expertise and the global reach.

And I ask you to maintain constant vigilance so that nuclear and other radioactive materials, which benefit humanity in so many ways, are never used intentionally to inflict harm.

Thank you.