17/09/2001
Press Release
SG/SM/7958
IAEA/1348



NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT PROGRESS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT AFTER TERRORIST ATTACK

ON UNITED STATES SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY MEETING


Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the forty-fifth General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), delivered by Steinar Bjornsson, Deputy-Director, United Nations Office at Vienna, on 17 September:


I am pleased to convey my warm greetings to all the participants in the forty-fifth regular session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  The IAEA plays a key role in our collective efforts to achieve the twin goals of peace and development, and has been a catalyst for the development and transfer of peaceful nuclear technologies, as well as assisting the international community in curbing nuclear weapon proliferation.


Making progress in the areas of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament is more important than ever in the aftermath of last week’s appalling terrorist attack on the United States.  The States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) agreed last year that this challenge could not be overcome by halfway measures.  Indeed, they concluded that "the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons".  Regrettably, several important treaties aimed at nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament or nuclear reductions still await entry into force.  It is vitally important for the world community to continue its efforts to implement the commitments already made, and to further identify the ways and means of achieving nuclear disarmament as soon as possible.

Looking towards the future, it is evident that broad international cooperation is essential to upgrade the physical protection of nuclear material, to improve capabilities for intercepting and responding to illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and other radioactive sources, and to enhance the protection of facilities against terrorism and sabotage.  Another issue of fundamental importance is the enhancement of nuclear safety worldwide.  I would like to commend the IAEA for its efforts in assisting the people affected by the Chernobyl accident, and in enhancing safety levels in the hope that an accident of this nature is never repeated.

Finally, I would like to urge the IAEA to further develop its work in developing the use of nuclear energy for sustainable development.  Coupled with your work in identifying environmentally sound sources of energy, these efforts can help transform nuclear energy into a universal force for progress and peace.  The IAEA’s mission is likely to grow and deepen in the decades ahead, and as you tackle this vast array of challenges, I wish you all success.

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