6 November 2000


Press Release
GA/9810



TOTAL DEPENDENCE ON FOSSIL FUELS, HYDROELECTRIC POWER FACILITIES NOT SUSTAINABLE, AGENCY HEAD TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

20001106

IAEA Director-General Advocates Expansion of Peaceful Nuclear Energy, Subject to Safety, Cost, Environmental Factors

A total reliance on fossil fuels and large hydroelectric facilities was not sustainable, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed Elbaradei, told the General Assembly this morning, as it took up consideration of the Agency's report.

He said projections of global energy demand had led the World Energy Council to that conclusion. The current position of nuclear power needed to be stabilized, with the possibility of future expansion. While the future of nuclear power remained uncertain, it was clear that certain factors would be crucial to its future: the safety of facility operation; the demonstrated feasibility of safe and environmentally sound radioactive waste disposal; the ability to make nuclear power economically competitive; the growing need for environmentally clean sources of energy; and public acceptance. In that context, the Agency’s role was to help ensure that the nuclear power option remained open.

The Agency’s safeguards system, he continued, was designed to provide assurance that nuclear material and facilities were used exclusively for peaceful purposes. Comprehensive assurance could only be provided, however, for States that had in force both a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the Agency and the complementary Additional Protocol.

Since December 1998, he noted the Agency had been unable to implement its mandate in Iraq under United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 and related resolutions. Therefore, the Agency could not provide any assurance that Iraq was in compliance with its obligations under those resolutions. The Agency also remained unable to verify that all nuclear material subject to safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been declared. With the recent positive developments in the Korean Peninsula, he hoped that country might soon be ready to begin active cooperation with the Agency to that end.

He said he had continued his consultations with the States of the Middle East region regarding the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East, and the development of model agreements that would contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region. Little progress had been achieved so far.


General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9810 52nd Meeting (AM) 6 November 2000

The representative of the United States praised the dedication of the men and women in the IAEA Secretariat to getting the job done, whether in nuclear cooperation, nuclear safety or verification, to getting the job done was clear. That commitment meant that nuclear cooperation helped to support the health and nutrition of people throughout the world, that that cooperation could proceed under strict and effective safety measures, and that the risk of illicit use of nuclear material was effectively constrained.

India's representative, emphasized that the main objective of the IAEA was accelerating and enlarging the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world. Safeguards measures to prevent the use of Agency assistance for military purposes and establish safety standards for protection of health must not overshadow IAEA's activities regarding the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

In introducing an amendment to the draft resolution introduced by Nigeria's representative, the representative of Egypt said his country had initiated the promotion of a region free of all weapons of mass destruction. That would require that Israel also adopt the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). His call was not an attack on, Israel, he said; it was a call for a durable and comprehensive peace based on international will. The safeguards system was the main international mechanism for verification and detecting nuclear activities that had not been declared. His amendment would stress the integrated role played by the Agency in comprehensive safeguarding.

The representatives of Nigeria, Mexico, France (for the European Union and associated States), Brazil (for the MERCOSUR countries), Philippines, Ukraine, South Africa, Czech Republic, Viet Nam, Cuba, Republic of Korea, Japan and Indonesia also spoke. The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea exercised his right of reply.

The Assembly this morning also adopted, without a vote, a resolution approving the first report of the Credentials Committee. The representative of Iran spoke in explanation of position.

The Assembly will meet again Tuesday, 7 November, at 10 a.m. to continue consideration of the report of the IAEA and to begin consideration of cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as well as of Bethlehem 2000.



General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9810 52nd Meeting (AM) 6 November 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to take up consideration of the first report of its Credentials Committee, and the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Credentials Committee Report

The report of the Credentials Committee (document A/55/537 and Corr.1) noted a memorandum by the Secretary-General dated 31 October concerning the credentials of representatives of Member States to the fifty-fifth session of the Assembly. According to the memorandum, credentials issued by the head of State or government or by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 132 States had been submitted.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs reported that the Secretariat had received sets of credentials for two different delegations to represent Afghanistan at the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly. There had been an original communication signed by Burhanuddin Rabbani, "President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan", presenting a delegation headed by H.E Ravan Abdul Ghafour Farhâdi, "Permanent Representative to the United Nations". There had been an original communication signed by Mulla Mohammad Rabbani, "Chairman of the Ministers Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan", presenting a delegation headed by Movlawi Abdul Rahman Zahed, "Deputy Foreign Minister".

Having considered the question of the credentials of Afghanistan, the Committee decided to take the same position as had been taken at the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly. (The decision was to leave the credentials status of Afghanistan unchanged from the previously existing situation.)

The Credentials Committee recommends to the Assembly that it adopt a draft resolution by the terms of which it would approve the report of the Credentials Committee.

International Atomic Energy Agency Report

The Assembly also had before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/55/284) transmitting the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

According to the report, the Agency Secretariat continued in 1999 the reform process intended to ensure more effective delivery of a programme that would make a clear contribution to the needs of Member States. A medium-term strategy has been developed and changes to the programme and budget formulation process were initiated. The strategy identified three "pillars" of the Agency's programme: technology, safety and verification.

In 1999, nuclear power supplied roughly one sixth of global electricity, the report notes, but as a capital and advanced technology, 83 per cent of global nuclear electricity capacity is concentrated in the industrialized countries. Recently built nuclear plants include considerably shorter construction times and lower operating costs. Today, well managed nuclear plants are often among the least expensive power plants to operate.

According to the report, for both existing and new nuclear power plants the Agency has assisted member States to enhance competitiveness with due regard to safety. It has provided analyses and expertise, and made available information on reducing initial costs, extending plants lifetimes, improving performance and decreasing operational and maintenance costs.

At the forty-third regular session of the General Conference in 1999, member States requested the Agency to help countries assess the role of nuclear power in the light of global environmental challenges and energy needs. The report states that the Agency made concerted efforts to provide information to member States and international forums on the potential role of nuclear power in a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

In the Agency's medium-term strategy, priority in the radiation and isotope technology programme was given to food and agriculture, human health, water resources management and the environment. The role of irradiation as a sanitary and “phytosanitary” treatment of food and agricultural commodities was highlighted an October 1999 conference in Turkey of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the IAEA and the World Health Organization (WHO). The report states that applications of nuclear related techniques for human health are expanding, not only as a curative technique but also in diagnostic procedures under the broad heading of nuclear medicine.

The Agency carried out monitoring of marine radioactive contamination. New remote measurements systems continued to provide confirmation that global fallout from atmospheric bomb testing is still the main source of “anthropogenic radionuclides” in the ocean, although levels have declined substantially. In the sphere of environmental protection, technical and economic considerations have indicated that electron beam accelerators are most suited for the treatment of large quantities of water and waste water.

A technical committee meeting on the prospects of non-electrical applications in nuclear energy was held in Beijing. The International Nuclear Desalination Advisory Group, at its third meeting in June, reviewed national programmes and projects in member States and stressed the importance of facilitating international cooperation in nuclear desalination demonstration activities.

The report notes the Agency’s promotion of a global nuclear safety culture comprising three elements: legally binding conventions, internationally agreed safety standards and measures to apply those conventions. In 1999, the Agency provided assistance to four member States in relation to emergency situations. The Convention on Nuclear Safety encourages countries with nuclear power plants to legally commit themselves to maintaining a high level of safety as well as imposing obligations concerning specific issues such as the siting design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants, etc.

Improving the safety of reactors in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union has been a major objective over the past decade. The International Conference on Strengthening Nuclear Safety in Eastern Europe concluded that considerable progress has been made. A number of areas need more attention, including the enforcement authority of regulatory bodies, transferring appropriate responsibilities for safety to the operators, and maintaining and enhancing an effective safety culture. Particular emphasis was placed on means for achieving the best possible improvements in safety with limited resources, such as greater exchange of information, and high quality safety analysis reports to provide a sound basis for prioritizing upgrades.

The Agency has started work on the development of tools for the assessment of regulatory effectiveness. New agency safety standards on legal and governmental infrastructure for safety could be used as a basis for developing self-assessment tools for regulatory bodies. A new service, the Transport Safety Appraisal Service, was introduced by the Agency to provide reviews, on request, of national implementation of the Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material.

The issue of residual wastes has become prominent in recent years. Some consensus on appropriate safety principles and criteria is gradually emerging; for example, new recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection on the treatment of prolonged exposure situations were approved in 1999 and will be published in the current year. During an Agency symposium, discussions confirmed that diverse policies have been and are being adopted in affected countries. The meeting served to initiate exchanges on the reasons for those differences in approach and represented a step towards international convergence.

The Agency undertook a substantial project to assist member States in addressing the year 2000 computer problem (Y2K). It prepared guidance documents, aimed at operators of nuclear installations, radioactive waste management facilities and medical facilities, and a workshop was held in November specifically to address contingency planning for nuclear power plants. The Agency also sent, upon request, 20 missions to nuclear power plants in nine member States to review and advise upon their Y2K preparations. All the countries operating nuclear power plants confirmed to the Agency that no incident with direct safety impact had occurred at any nuclear power plant as a result of the immediate transition to the year 2000.

Discussing verification measures, the report states that the Agency's safeguards system comprised extensive technical measures for verifying the correctness and completeness of the declarations made by States about their nuclear and material activities. Since 1992, in the aftermath of the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme, the Board of Governors had adopted or endorsed different measures to strengthen the safeguards system. On 31 December 1999, 224 safeguards agreements were in force with 140 States. Additional Protocols for 46 States had been approved by the Board of Governors. Eight such Protocols were in force, and one was being implemented provisionally, pending its entry into force. In addition, measures contained in the Model Additional Protocol were being applied in Taiwan, China.

An important key to strengthening safeguards was the increased use of short notice inspections within the routine inspection regime. The development and use of advanced verification technology also continued in 1999. Environmental sampling was being routinely applied at facilities covered by comprehensive safeguards agreements after successful trials in 11 member States. A computerized system known as the Protocol Data Information System was put in place in 1999 to treat all information supplied by States pursuant to their Additional Protocols. The sixth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was planned to be convened for the first time under the strengthened review procedures agreed upon in 1995. The Review Conference would examine how the Agency's strengthened safeguards system could most effectively continue to support the goal of nuclear non-proliferation.

With regard to outreach, the report stated that one of the strategic goals reflected in the medium-term strategy was effective interaction with partners and the public. Special attention was given, in 1999, to reaching non-traditional partners. A particular example was the Scientific Forum organized by the General Conference entitled 'Sustainable Development: A Role for Nuclear Power?' Also, a meeting on 'Nuclear Research Centres in the Twenty-first Century' was held in Vienna in December.

Throughout the year, the Secretariat had continued its management reform process. By the end of the year, a number of significant developments had taken place. The most important was the decision that results-based programming would be introduced for the 2002-2003 biennium. The draft programme and budget for the year 2001 contained rationales, objectives and performance indicators down to the subprogramme level, and, in September, the General Conference approved a change to the Statute that would allow biennial budgeting. Apart from the medium-term strategy, internal management practice was another major theme for reform throughout the year. Management training was taken up as a priority concern with the dual objectives of improving programme management and creating a “one house culture” through Agency-wide standards of good management practices.

Draft Resolution

Also before the Assembly was a draft resolution (document A/55/L.25), sponsored by Argentina, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the United Kingdom on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would welcome the measures and decisions taken by the Agency to maintain and strengthen the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of its integrated safeguards system in conformity with the statue of the Agency. It would affirm that strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards system with a view to detecting undeclared nuclear activities must be implemented rapidly and universally by all concerned States and other parties in compliance with their respective international commitments and consistent with the respective safeguards undertakings of member States. All concerned States and other parties to safeguards agreements that have not yet done so would be requested to sign additional protocols promptly, and take the necessary measures to bring them into force or provisionally apply them as soon as their national legislation allows. It would recommend that the Director- General, the Board of Governors and member States of the IAEA consider implementing the elements of a plan of action as identified in resolution GC(44)/RES/19, as appropriate and subject to available resources, so that safeguards agreements and additional protocols could be brought into force.

By the same terms, the draft would urge all States to strive for effective and harmonious international cooperation in carrying out the work of the Agency; in promoting the use of nuclear energy and the application of the necessary measures to strengthen further the safety of nuclear installations and to minimize risks to life, health and the environment; in strengthening technical assistance and cooperation for developing countries, and in ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the safeguards systems of the Agency.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would stress the need to continue to pursue activities of the Agency in the areas of nuclear science, technology and applications for meeting basic sustainable development needs of member States. It would commend the Director-General and the secretariat of the Agency for their continuing impartial efforts to implement the safeguards agreement still in force between the Agency and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The Assembly would call on Iraq to implement, in full, all relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate fully with the Agency and to provide the necessary access to enable the Agency to carry out its mandate. It would appeal to all States that have not yet done so to take the necessary steps to become parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management so that it may enter into force as soon as possible.

The Assembly also had before it an amendment to the draft resolution, (document A/55/L.26) sponsored by Egypt. It would replace the operative paragraph in the original draft relating to the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the IAEA’s safeguards system with the following:

"Also welcomes the measures and decisions taken by the Agency to maintain and strengthen the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of its integrated safeguards system in conformity with the statute of the Agency, and in this regard, stresses the importance of the Agency’s comprehensive safeguards system, and also the importance of the Model Additional Protocol approved on 15 May 1997, affirms that strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards system with a view to detecting undeclared nuclear activities must be implemented rapidly and universally by all concerned States and other parties in compliance with their respective international commitments, urges all States to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements as soon as possible, requests all concerned States and other parties to safeguards agreements that have not yet done so to sign additional protocols promptly, requests the States and other parties to safeguards agreements having signed additional protocols to take the necessary measures to bring them into force or provisionally apply them as soon as their national legislation allows, and recommends that the Director-General, the Board of Governors and member States consider implementing the elements of a plan of action as identified in resolution GC(44)RES/19, as appropriate and subject to available resources, so that safeguards agreements and additional protocols can be brought into force.”

Action on Credentials Committee Report

The first report of the Credentials Committee was approved by the Assembly without a vote.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Iran, said his country had reservations on the report with regard to Israel, and his delegation wished to dissociate itself with the parts of the report referring to the approval of the credentials of Israel.

Statements on IAEA Report

MOHAMMED ELBARADEI, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that while the future of nuclear power remained uncertain, it was clear that certain factors would be crucial to the future: the safety of facility operation; the demonstrated feasibility of safe and environmentally sound radioactive waste disposal; the ability to make nuclear power economically competitive; the growing need for environmentally clean sources of energy; and public acceptance.

Projections of global energy demand led the World Energy Council to conclude that a total reliance on fossil fuels and large hydroelectric facilities was not sustainable, and that the current position of nuclear power needed to be stabilized, with the possibility of future expansion. In this context, the Agency’s role was to help ensure that the nuclear power option remained open.

A major part of the Agency’s nuclear technology activities were related to applications other than electricity generation, he said. Agency coordinated research projects focused on the use of nuclear techniques to increase food production, fight disease, manage water resources, and protect the terrestrial and marine environments. With each new year, nuclear techniques were also developed related to human health. The Agency’s safeguard system, he continued, was designed to provide assurance that nuclear material and facilities were used exclusively for peaceful purposes. However, comprehensive assurance could be provided only for States that had in force both a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the Agency and the complementary Additional Protocol.

He said 51 States party to the NPT had yet to bring comprehensive safeguards agreements into force. Furthermore, the 11 States that had Additional Protocols approved in the past year brought the total to 55, but so far only 17 of those had entered into force.

Since December 1998, he went on, the Agency had been unable to implement its mandate in Iraq under United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 and related resolutions. Therefore, the Agency could not provide any assurance that Iraq was in compliance with its obligations under those resolutions. The Agency also remained unable to verify that all nuclear material subject to safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been declared. With the recent positive developments in the Korean Peninsula, he hoped that the Democratic People’s Republic would soon be ready to commence active cooperation with the Agency to that end. In keeping with the General Conference mandate, he had continued his consultations with the States of the Middle East region regarding the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East, and the development of model agreements that would contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region. Little progress had been achieved so far. He would continue to use all available means to move that mandate forward.

He said the Agency continued to consult with the Russian Federation and the United States of America on methods of verifying nuclear materials in excess of their military programmes. Those verifications must be sufficient to assure the international community that the material had been irreversibly removed from military application. In September, the United states and the Russian Federation also signed a bilateral plutonium management and disposition agreement, which committed each party to the withdrawal of 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium from its weapons programme, and to early consultation at concluding an agreement with the IAEA to allow the Agency’s verification measures.

Another major area of the Agency was safety, he said. While it was a national responsibility, international cooperation on safety-related matters had proven to be indispensable. The international safety regime consisted of three major components: international conventions, a body of internationally agreed safety standards and mechanisms for applying those standards. Conventions in the safety area aimed to establish binding norms that covered activities across the entire fuel cycle. The Agency had made progress in the past several years on updating its body of standards -– nearly 80 new or revised standards would be produced in total. Once agreed upon, those standards must be uniformly applied by all States.

The Agency continued to focus international attention on the threats to public health arising from so-called “orphan” radioactive sources –- sources that were no longer under the control of national authorities. The Agency had worked extensively to strengthen the ability of member States to respond to such emergencies, focusing on infrastructure upgrades, the development of national registries of radioactive sources and the enhancement of regulatory structures. One of the most pivotal issues in the debate over nuclear technology was the managing of spent fuel and radioactive waste. A number of countries were engaged in geologic disposal projects. Research was also active on waste disposal methods that were reversible, and researchers were focusing on waste transmutation and other techniques to reduce the activity or volume of long-lived waste. The Agency continued to maintain international focus on the waste issue in order to accelerate progress toward solutions and to bridge the gap in perception between technical experts and the public at large.

ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said his country attached great importance to the objectives of the IAEA, and had demonstrated its commitment to international peace and security and global non-proliferation efforts, especially those directed at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and all forms of weapons of mass destruction.

He said the draft resolution -– which Nigeria was honoured to introduce -- drew attention to the increasing relevance of the non-proliferation regime, notably the safeguards agreements, which had direct bearing on verification and confidence-building, and the need for the IAEA to maintain and strengthen the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the integrated safeguards system. Further, the draft renewed the concern of the international community in the field of nuclear energy with regard to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iraq.

With respect to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, he said Nigeria appealed to States which had not yet become parties to do so. Nigeria took cognizance of the genuine contributions of all countries to the draft, which facilitated the achievement of the transparent and balanced text.

AHMED ABOULGHIET (Egypt), in introducing the amendment to the draft resolution, said there were a number of topics, both regional and international, to which Egypt attached particular importance. An important aspect of the Agency’s work was the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; that was particularly needed in the Middle East where Egypt had, for a long time, attempted to establish a nuclear–weapon-free region.

President Mubarak had, in 1990, initiated the promotion of a region free of from all weapons of mass destruction, as an extension and natural development of a nuclear-free zone. Egypt had repeated this call one year after another. That was not an Arab or an Egyptian demand, but an international endeavour. However, this would require that Israel also adopted the provisions of the non-proliferation treaty, since Israel was the only country in the region that had not done so.

He said his call was not an attack on, or criticism against, Israel. It was, rather, a call for a durable and comprehensive peace based on international will. Israel was urged to join the treaty and subject its national nuclear facilities to the Agency’s comprehensive safeguard monitoring. The safeguards system was, in fact, the main international mechanism for verification and detecting nuclear activities that had not been declared. He said Egypt had proposed an amendment to operative paragraph 5 of draft resolution L.26 in order to stress the integrated role played by the Agency in comprehensive safeguarding.

GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) expressed satisfaction with the positive results of the sixth conference on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Of special importance to the international community was the unambiguous commitment of nuclear-weapons States. The fulfilment of that commitment was of particular importance, as was the important role of the IAEA for safeguards, non- proliferation, technical cooperation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

He said Mexico felt that the fulfilment of verification responsibilities entrusted by the international community to the Agency required a strengthened safeguards system. He was satisfied by the growing number of States that had adhered to the internal protocol agreements between States and the Agency for the application of safeguards. In the past year, there was increased cooperation between Mexico and the Agency, and his Government had formulated a nuclear waste policy with IAEA support.

On the issue of regional responsibility, he said Mexico was the first country to ratify the Regional Agreement of Cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean. Mexico looked forward to renewed efforts for a universal culture of nuclear safety. It also encouraged all countries to work in favour of a framework of understanding, taking account of the danger of ships transporting nuclear waste. The success of the IAEA’s work depended on political commitment and financing; all countries should meet their obligations in a timely manner.

PHILIPPE BOSSIERE (France), speaking for the European Union and associated States, welcomed the changes within the Agency. The European Union attached great importance to the respect for agreements entered into under the Non-proliferation Treaty.

There was continuing concern, he said, that, despite the efforts of the IAEA, no progress had been made with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 1994, particularly with regard to verification. It was hoped that recent developments in the Korean peninsula might eventually lead to resolution of the issue.

On the situation in Iraq, he said, the European Union urged Iraq to cooperate with the new commission and respect the Agency, so that it could implement its mandate. Iraq was also urged to respect Security Council resolutions.

It was essential for international stability and security that the risks of proliferation be controlled, he said. A climate of confidence was needed for the peaceful use of the atom. Safety must be a constant concern to be ensured in all areas. Governments had a responsibility when it came to the use of nuclear power, a responsibility to the population, its neighbours and the international community.

The European Union, he went on, emphasized the importance of the nuclear safety convention and the safety of managing spent fuel and radioactive waste. All parties had a responsibility to ensure a better culture of safety. All member States should ratify relevant conventions and speed up their entry into force.

He said the IAEA provided guidance and assistance to States needing that support for national implementation. The European Union attached great importance to safety and security of radioactive materials, in order to rectify weaknesses in that area and the gaps in management which had been a cause of radiological accidents. He, therefore, supported the efforts of the Agency to eliminate laxity in technical cooperation.

LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and associated countries, said that he would like to state his satisfaction with regard to the report. He said he wished to repeat the active and permanent commitment of those nations with regard to the promotion of peaceful use of nuclear energy, disarmament and non-proliferation. He supported actions to guarantee the exchange of material equipment and technology for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and urged the Agency to give priority to the integration of safety measures.

He referred to the formula for financing safeguards that had been adopted at the recent conference of the Agency, which would require greater contribution from the MERCOSUR countries. They would examine the proposals and propose adjustments.

He said the application of the Additional Protocol should be neutral with respect to the cost of safeguards. The use of nuclear energy in the MERCOSUR region needed to have increased reliability and respect for the environment, so that people would accept it. The matter of the transport of nuclear waste by sea was of constant concern. He pointed to the need for cooperation and coordination with a view to strengthening the standards regulating such transport of waste by sea.

MARY JO B. ARAGON (Philippines) said nuclear power held the promise of safe and affordable energy, as well as improved agricultural productivity, safer foods and drinking water, and better human health for the continued growth and progress of a globalized world. At the same time, nuclear power still bore the potential for massive terror and destruction. The IAEA played an important and challenging role, and she noted the continuing efforts of the Agency in advancing the causes of non-proliferation, safety in the application of nuclear technology, and technical cooperation in support of the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

The activities of the Agency to ensure and promote the safe use of nuclear energy was particularly important to Asia, she said. There had been no significant increase in the number of nuclear power plants in other parts of the world, but, in Asia, planning for an expansion of nuclear power continued. The use of nuclear power was likely to grow over the short term. As an archipelago, the Philippines attached particular importance to the marine environment. She continued to support the efforts of the Agency to marine radioactivity contamination in the marine environment, in cooperation with other United Nations agencies.

The Agency was helping to develop knowledge that could help in rapid assessment of the impact of any possible future releases from accidents that might occur at coastal nuclear facilities or nuclear waste sites, or from the ocean transport of spent fuel or high level waste. Although the Agency was a “child of the cold war”, it had grown and matured, and she was confident it would be able to successfully face the many and diverse challenges of today.

VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said that, being a strong supporter of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, Ukraine had gone beyond the NPT and the safeguards agreement with the IAEA to sign a Protocol Additional to the Safeguards Agreement on 15 August. Given the level of its nuclear activity, the Ukraine had, therefore, contributed to further progress towards the universal application of the safeguards regime. The Ukraine, he went on, called upon all member States of the Agency that had not done so, to sign a Protocol Additional to the safeguards agreements as soon as possible.

He noted the historic decision of the Government of Ukraine to close, on 15 December 2000, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. That step was a valuable contribution, aimed at the mitigation and the minimization of the Chernobyl disaster, despite the fact that the closure set a number of challenging tasks for the Ukraine in terms of safety issues and created a new range of socio-economic ramifications for his country.

As a follow-up of the IAEA Director-General’s recent visit to Ukraine, he added, another step was taken towards promoting safety within the framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme for the cycle 2001-2001. Two additional projects had been agreed upon: support for Chernobyl decommissioning, and management and physical protection of radioactive material from the “shelter” at the Chernobyl plant

He said the Agency’s efforts against illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and other radioactive sources were widely acknowledged. His country attributed importance to cooperating with the IAEA under the Programme on Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials, and to the exchange of information within the IAEA illicit trafficking database. The Ukraine joined others in support of the swift completion of the elaboration of an International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. As a party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the Ukraine supported the draft resolution calling for acceding to the Convention of those countries that had not yet done so, to strengthen efforts in combating illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and other radioactive sources.

BALBIR K. PUNJ (India) emphasized that the IAEA's main objective was accelerating and enlarging the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world. Safeguard measures to prevent the use of Agency assistance for military purposes and to establish safety standards for protection of health must not overshadow the IAEA's activities regarding the peaceful uses of atomic energy. Primacy must be accorded to technology.

He said it was appropriate for the Agency to address the issue of various nuclear fuel-cycle options. Because of his country's limited uranium resources, and in order to ensure long-term energy security, India had opted for a closed nuclear fuel-cycle policy, involving a fast breeder-reactor programme and thorium utilization and associated fuel-reprocessing and refabrication plants. A closed fuel cycle was also important for the safe management of the environment. His country had requested a "nuclear technology review", a request that had been heeded by the Agency’s Director-General.

Quality in the implementation of safeguards must be improved, he said, since much had changed since 1971 when the new inspection regime had been put in place. That should be reflected in the quality and quantity of inspection efforts, with corresponding reductions in cost. The argument that increases in safeguards needed to be accommodated automatically because they were mandatory requirements under NPT agreements brought into question the differences between statutory activities and mandatory activities. With promotion being the prime statutory aim of the IAEA, he wondered why only 5.9 per cent of the Agency's budget went to an important activity like nuclear power. On the other hand, he said, there seemed to be no holding back of resources for safeguards activities.

He reiterated his appreciation for the Agency's efforts in preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear materials. However, in "his neighbourhood", clandestine acquisition of sensitive technology and materials was known to have occurred. Preventing it required the commitment of Agency’s member States.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said that safety and security were gained at a cost. It was certainly not any different when referring to the safeguards system. An innovative solution for the safeguards budget would have to be found soon. Such a solution would take into consideration that, with the abolishment of shielding, the burden on the developing countries should not be increased further.

He considered the Agency's assistance to developing countries, in terms of its Technical Cooperation Programme, very important. In a regional context, the application of nuclear technology had, in many instances, brought viable solutions to some of the African continent's problems. Africa had succeeded in tailoring a communal approach to the utilization of the peaceful uses of nuclear science through the work and activities of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Science and Technology (AFRA). Although an interim solution for the funding of technical cooperation projects had been found, contributions from major donor countries would still be required.

Environmental considerations, safety operations and waste management practices were becoming a people's issue, a business imperative, a sensitive government debate and a technological challenge, he said. The future of nuclear energy as a source of electricity production was very much dependent on the safe operation of nuclear facilities and obtaining acceptable solutions for the safe management and disposal of nuclear waste. The guidance provided and the activities conducted by the IAEA to member States during the past year should be commended, he said. VLADIMIR GALUSKA (Czech Republic) said that his country had signed the Additional Protocol to the Safeguard Agreement on 28 September 1999, and, since then, the proper amendments to the relevant domestic legal act had been drafted. The Czech Republic would be ready to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol in the very near future. The Czech Republic considered the consistent implementation of safeguards, together with physical protection of nuclear materials, to be the pillars of the system to struggle against nuclear terrorism and to prevent the illegal trade in nuclear materials.

Nuclear power generation constituted the main part of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic, he continued. At the beginning of this year, the Czech Government had approved the country’s new Energy Policy Strategy, which envisaged further use of nuclear energy for electricity generation, thus enabling a desirable diversification of energy sources and, consequently, a substantial reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and the exploitation of the country’s limited fossil fuel deposits. His country had a modern legislation, under which the States Regulatory Authority was furnished with sufficient independence, resources and competence to be able to secure the highest level of nuclear safety and radiation protection with respect to all relevant activities.

By using the mechanism of expert missions organized by the IAEA, his country had received an independent review of the licensing process with regard to the Temelin nuclear power plant as well as of the assessment of the plant’s readiness for the start-up phase. The experts had positively viewed the Temelin plant’s readiness for start-up, and it went without saying that all their recommendations had been implemented. The Czech authorities had always been ready to maintain a broad dialogue on cross-border aspects of safety of the Temelin nuclear power plant, and had never failed to provide honest answers to questions.

HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam) said that, as a developing country, Viet Nam had focused its efforts on expanding its cooperative activities with the IAEA, as well as with other Member States under the auspices of the Agency. He expressed gratitude for the generous assistance his country had received in the areas of nuclear applications for health, agriculture and safety. It was also grateful that hundreds of its experts had had the opportunity to participate in training courses organized by the Agency.

He said that since nuclear energy had been well established as the most clean, environment friendly and efficient use for energy generation, its development would further enhance the sustainable economic development of many developing countries. Viet Nam hoped that greater financial support and technical expertise would be given to efforts to help developing countries share the benefits and use of nuclear energy.

He said his Government also supported the work of the Agency in the field of verifying and monitoring the compliance of the safeguards agreements signed by State members in accordance with the Agency’s statute and safeguards system. The utmost efforts should be made to ensure that verification activities be fully impartial; they must not violate the national sovereignty of States.

RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) described the programme of technical cooperation his country had had with the IAEA, with excellent results in the fields of human health, agriculture, industry and other areas. He said Cuba took note of the programme of regional rules of cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean for providing solutions to concrete problems between countries in the region. However, there were many challenges before the Agency; there was an imbalance between the two vertical work principles of the IAEA -- cooperation and technical assistance had not received the same benefit as the safeguards activities.

He said the real decline in funding for technical cooperation did not correspond to the growing needs of developing countries. It was important that those activities were not only maintained, but strengthened and diversified. The Agency must keep the funding for technical cooperation predictable and secure, he added. It was unfortunate that there was a freeze on that funding, which had been set at $73 million for the next biennium. Cuba urged an integrated approach in an effective and efficient system, one which did not impose an excessive burden on countries with limited resources.

On the question of the NPT, the position of Cuba was well known. It believed that the Treaty was discriminatory and selective because it legitimized nuclear stockpiles by a select “club of” countries. His Government had not signed nor ratified the Treaty. In spite of not being a State party to the Treaty, Cuba had supported the nuclear installations safeguards agreement with the IAEA, becoming the first non-signatory to the NPT to accept the protocol. In 1996, he stated, the Government of the United States had adopted the Helms-Burton law, which called for the termination of any nuclear installation in Cuba. That law must be considered an act of aggression by the United States. He said he rejected such discriminatory behaviour and affirmed that his country would continue to carry out its nuclear programme; the cycle of confrontation should end.

NORMAN A. WULF (United States) said that among the strengths that the IAEA brought to its portfolio was its ability to change over time. Over the past decade, times had demanded different things and the IAEA had responded –- through expanded work in hydrology, new initiatives in landmine detection, a comprehensive work plan on “orphan” sources and extensive effort to strengthen safeguards –- to name only a few examples. Commitment to its goals was central to the success of any institution, he said.

Whether in nuclear cooperation, nuclear safety or verification, the dedication of the men and women in the IAEA Secretariat to getting the job done was clear. That commitment meant that nuclear cooperation helped to support the health and nutrition of people throughout the world, that this cooperation could proceed under strict and effective safety measures, and that the risk of illicit use of nuclear material was effectively constrained. Commitment must go hand in hand with competence to assure sound performances, he continued. The fact that the world community repeatedly and consistently had turned to the IAEA as a means to manage intractable problems had been seen in the Chernobyl disaster and the nuclear challenges posed by Iraq and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The 2000 NPT Review Conference recognized many of the diverse aspects of the Agency’s work as well as many new initiatives. Among those, was the role that the IAEA could play in support of the disarmament objectives of the NPT by helping to assure the international community that the removal of excess fissile materials for nuclear weapons was proceeding. That would help meet the call in the NPT Final Document for irreversibility by all nuclear-weapon States and, in particular, the call to complete and implement the Trilateral Initiatives. The United States, Russia and the IAEA were very close to agreement on the legal framework for such verification, and he hoped that the remaining minor differences could readily be resolved.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that his country had completed the concept design of a 330-megawatt small-sized reactor called SMART (System- integrated Modular Advanced Reactor). The experience of developing SMART would be of much assistance for the Agency’s plans to promote the development of small- and medium-size reactors in the future. His country was fully disposed to share its knowledge and experience in nuclear technology research and development within the framework of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme.

While sharing the view that every country should maintain the highest possible level of nuclear safety through rigorous national measures, the Republic of Korea also believed that international cooperation on safety related matters was indispensable. The IAEA should further promote international cooperation to create a set of rules and standards for nuclear safety. For many years, his Government had made every effort to instill within the society a culture of nuclear safety. The Republic of Korea hoped for a speedy conclusion of the international discussions concerning the safety of radioactive sources and the safe transport of radioactive materials.

Since 1993, he continued, the General Conference of the IAEA had adopted resolutions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear issue. The resolution adopted by the forty-fourth General Conference of the Agency urged that country to come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. His country commended the impartial efforts of the Agency in resolving that issue and looked forward to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s full compliance with the safeguards agreement. His country welcomed the recent positive developments in Northeast Asia and hoped that they would provide an opportunity to resolve outstanding issues, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear issue.

HIDEAKI KOBAYASHI (Japan) said his country, strictly observing the principles of peaceful use and safety, remained committed to the advancement of nuclear power generation and the establishment of a nuclear fuel cycle. It attached great importance to transparency in its nuclear activities and intended to keep the international community informed of its policies, as well as the situation regarding the use of plutonium. As the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack and as a country that had long been committed to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Japan was determined to use its wealth of experience for the greater benefit of humankind.

He urged the international community to further strengthen its efforts to promote the universalization of the Additional Protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreements, which he saw as an integral part of the safeguards system. In order to promote the conclusion of the Additional Protocol, his Government intended to make extra-budgetary contributions to the IAEA's Secretariat. He also expressed his country's readiness to host a workshop for the Asia-Pacific region next year on the universalization of the Additional Protocol.

He welcomed the positive developments on the Korean peninsula. In light of those developments, it was all the more important for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to fully cooperate with the Agency in the implementation of its safeguards agreement, so as to further strengthen the atmosphere of cooperation

and reconciliation. Japan had been actively participating in the light-water reactor project of the Korean Energy Development Organization, which had an important role to play in promoting the IAEA's activities on the Korean peninsula.

RHOUSDY SOERIAATMADJA (Indonesia) said that, for reasons of energy security, countries with limited fossil fuel resources should be encouraged to diversify their energy supply systems to include both renewable and non-renewable sources in ensuring national development on a sustainable basis. The IAEA deserved commendation for its efforts in providing information and training on the potential role of nuclear power under the clean development mechanism. Collective efforts with the assistance of the Agency should be undertaken towards appropriate technical solutions in providing safe and reliable energy at affordable rates, especially for the developing countries.

He said while responsibility for the safe design, construction and operation of a nuclear installation rested with the State, cooperation among States was needed to ensure that internationally accepted levels of nuclear safety were in place everywhere. Technical cooperation programmes were the most valuable components of the Agency's activities; it had greatly benefited Indonesia, which was willing to share its expertise and scientific facilities with other developing countries, depending upon the Agency's efforts to promote South-South cooperation in addition to the existing North-South framework.

He said cooperative activities implemented through effective programmes would contribute significantly to improving the scientific, technological and regulatory capabilities of the developing countries. He welcomed the technical cooperation strategy and the concept of “partner in development”.

Right of Reply

HONG JE RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), speaking in right of reply, referred to comments by the Director-General of the IAEA and some others on the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula. It was well known, he said, that this was not an issue to be discussed in the United Nations. It was a political and military issue to be resolved bilaterally with the Unites States. The nuclear issue would be resolved when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States agreed framework was implemented. To talk about that in the United Nations would be no help to resolving the issue. The representative of the Republic of Korea knew much better than others that this was an issue for the Democratic Republic of Korea and the United States. His statement, therefore, gave rise to much suspicion. He said his delegation deplored the “two-faced approach” of Japan towards the issue. Japan, he said, should settle its “past crimes against Korean people” before talking about that issue.

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