GENERAL ASSEMBLY REAFFIRMS STRONG SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, AS DIRECTOR GENERAL MOHAMED ELBARADEI PRESENTS ANNUAL REPORT
GENERAL ASSEMBLY REAFFIRMS STRONG SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, AS DIRECTOR GENERAL MOHAMED ELBARADEI PRESENTS ANNUAL REPORT
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
36th & 37th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY REAFFIRMS STRONG SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY,
AS DIRECTOR GENERAL MOHAMED ELBARADEI PRESENTS ANNUAL REPORT
Calls for New Framework for Nuclear Energy Use, Including Innovation,
Multilateral Structure for Fuel Cycle, Universal Safeguards, Disarmament
Reaffirming its confidence in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, the General Assembly today adopted a resolution appealing to Member States to continue to support the Agency’s indispensable role in “encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses”.
A similar resolution had required a recorded vote for the last three years, but the Assembly reaffirmed, by consensus, its strong support for the Agency’s activities in the area of technology transfer to developing countries and in nuclear safety, verification and security.
Delivering his annual report, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told the Assembly that, given the groundswell of global interest in nuclear power –- and increased potential risk associated with the spread of sensitive technology -- the time had come to develop a new framework for using nuclear energy which took into account both lessons learned and the current reality.
He said such a framework should include action to achieve robust technological innovation in nuclear power and applications, a multinational framework for the fuel cycle to assure supply and curb proliferation risk, and universal application of comprehensive safeguards and the Additional Protocol as the standard for nuclear verification.
Moreover, it should recognize the link between non-proliferation and disarmament, and, therefore, the need for rapid progress towards nuclear disarmament -- through deep cuts in existing arsenals, downgrading of alert levels for deployed nuclear weapons and resuscitation of multilateral disarmament efforts. Those efforts should start with bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and starting negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.
On the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, the Agency had examined proposals for creating an actual or virtual reserve “fuel bank of last resort” to assure the nuclear fuel supply, converting a national facility into an international enrichment centre, and constructing a multinational enrichment facility under Agency control. “Controlling nuclear material is a complex process, yet, if we fail to act, it could be the Achilles’ heel of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” he said. Given that, he proposed an incremental approach to moving forward that included, first, the establishment of an equitable system for supply assurance, and, next, bringing under multinational control any new operations for uranium enrichment and plutonium separation.
Further, the nuclear non-proliferation and arms control regime continued to present a broad set of challenges, he said, adding that effective verification must be supported by four essential elements: adequate legal authority; state-of-the-art technology; access to all relevant information; and sufficient human and financial resources. He noted that the Additional Protocol was an instrument that enabled the Agency to draw credible conclusions about both the peaceful nature of a country’s declared nuclear programme, and also the absence of undeclared facilities. However, to date, just over half of the 162 States with safeguards agreements had brought additional protocols into force.
In that context, he welcomed the return of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the verification process, and said the Agency had confirmed on 17 July Pyongyang’s shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. On the implementation of Agency safeguards in Iran, he said the Agency had verified the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in the country. Iran continued to provide the access and reporting needed to enable verification and, in August, had agreed with the Secretariat on a work plan for resolving outstanding verification issues.
Iran’s agreement to the plan -- in response to repeated requests by the Security Council and the Board of Governors -- constituted an “important step in the right direction”. If the Agency were able to provide credible assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran’s past and current nuclear programme, that would go “a long way towards building confidence”, he added.
To that point, Iran’s representative said his country had an inalienable right to the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Nevertheless, in an “unwarranted move orchestrated by a few of its permanent members”, the Security Council had taken “unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable actions” against Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran’s programme posed no threat to international peace and security and, thus, discussion of it was devoid of legal basis or practical utility.
Under Iran’s recent agreement with the Secretariat, he said issues surrounding the P1 and P2 centrifuges were under intensive discussion. Given that multilateral means were necessary to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, there could be no doubt that recent unilateral measures taken by the United States against Iran only sought to undermine the country’s cooperation with the Agency. “No amount of United States irrational policies will be able to dissuade us from pursuing our legitimate rights and interests,” he said.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking before the Assembly took action on the draft, said the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was directly related to the removal of the United States hostile policies against his country. All along, his Government’s ultimate goal had been the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The joint statement of 2005 and his country’s practical steps taken before and since that time were testament to its position. His country would continue to implement its obligations under the 2005 joint Declaration, based on the principle of “actions for actions”.
At the same time, he said that his delegation would join consensus on the text “with strong reservations on some paragraphs”, and would with the expectation that the six-party talks would continue apace, and that IAEA would continue to address the matter of the Korean nuclear issue in a fair manner.
In other business, the Assembly began its session today on a sombre note, with representatives paying tribute to Rudiger von Wechmar, former Permanent Representative of Germany and President of the thirty-fifth session of the General Assembly, who passed away on 17 October. Expressing their condolences were representatives of Benin (on behalf of the African States), the Republic of Korea (on behalf of the Asian States), Poland (on behalf of the Eastern European States), Peru (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), Turkey (on behalf of the Western European and other States), the United States (as host country) and Germany.
Also speaking on the report of IAEA were representatives of Chile, Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market), Benin (on behalf of the African Group), Russian Federation, China, Cuba, Kuwait, Peru, Egypt, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Iceland, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Angola, Malaysia, Thailand, Croatia, Belarus, Pakistan, Singapore, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Sudan.
The representative of Syria spoke in explanation of position after action on the draft.
The draft resolution was introduced by the representative of Chile.
The General Assembly will reconvene Tuesday, 30 October, at 10 a.m. to consider a draft resolution on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.
Today, the General Assembly has before it the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (GC(51)/5), the most recent account of the Agency’s work under the three pillars of its mandate to monitor the technology, safety and verificationof nuclear use among nations. The report clarifies the latest ways in which the Agency continued to ensure that nuclear technology contributed to the promotion of “peace, health and prosperity”, and it touches on a number of issues, including nuclear power’s growth, harmonizing of safety standards and regulation.
The demand for energy around the world continues to rapidly increase, the report says, with the latest projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimating that global energy consumption will grow by 53 per cent by 2030, with 70 per cent of the growth coming from developing countries -– where 17 of the current 29 nuclear reactors under construction are located. Therefore, investment in research and development is essential for the growth of nuclear power and it needs to focus on new designs of reactors of different sizes, with higher efficiency and greater availability. At the same time, there is a strong need for the deep geological disposal of high-level waste, long-lived waste or the spent fuel itself.
The Agency supports Member States in their effort to continue to maintain a high level of safety regarding nuclear activities in 2006 and occupational radiation protection indicators showed improvement from 2005. No events led to a radioactive release that would cause the environment, workers or other people harm. In September, the Board of Governors published a set of ten new principles that set the basis on which facilities should establish safety requirements. The Agency also developed a new safety review initiative, the Integrated Regulatory Review Service, to facilitate exchanges among regulatory bodies and oversee safety initiatives. Finally, the United States and the Russian Federation completed the recovery of radioactive material in the former Soviet Union and arranged for recovery of about 100 sites in Africa and Latin America.
At the end of 2006, the Agency applied safeguards for 162 States under its oversight. A total of 75 States had both Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols. For 32 of these States, the Agency concluded all nuclear material remained in peaceful activities. For 78 States with Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements in force, but not Additional Protocols, the Agency drew the determination that declared nuclear material remained in peaceful nuclear activities. For 43 States, the Agency had not yet completed all necessary evaluations and determined that declared nuclear materials remained in peaceful activities. The Secretariat was not able to perform inspection activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and could not evaluate its safeguards.
The role of IAEA continues to expand and, with that expansion, comes the need for adequate resources to deal with the many problems within its mandate, such as nuclear safety, security, verification and disarmament. The Agency needs to continue partnering with key stakeholders -– and receive support from them –- for its monitoring, decommissioning, waste management and exploration of new applications for nuclear technology.
Statement by IAEA Director General
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Director General of IAEA, presented the Agency’s annual report, recalling that several milestones had marked the 50 years since the Agency was entrusted with ensuring that nuclear energy become an engine of peace: the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the development of IAEA’s verification regime were among them. The Agency had also faced challenges, including the l986 accident at Chernobyl, the discovery of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear programme in the early 1990s and the nuclear security challenge revealed in the aftermath of 11 September 2001.
In that context, he highlighted more recent developments and challenges. Regarding nuclear power technology, he said there were three strong factors driving a renewed global interest in nuclear power: steady growth in energy demand; increasing concerns about energy security; and climate change. Some 439 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries supplied just over 15 per cent of global electricity. To date, the use of nuclear power had been concentrated in industrialized countries. However, the pattern for new construction was different: half of the 30 reactors being built were in developing countries. In line with that increased interest, the Agency was conducting national energy studies for 77 Member States, 29 of which explored nuclear energy as a potential option.
On the technology innovation front, he noted that the Agency’s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) was considering projects on technological issues that needed to be addressed for improved economics and safety. It was important to actively pursue the design and production of small and intermediate-sized reactors.
The expected expansion in nuclear power would drive a corresponding increase in the need for countries to ensure a reliable supply of nuclear fuel, he continued, adding that that could also increase the potential proliferation risks created by the spread of sensitive technology. Such trends clearly pointed to the urgent need for the development of a new, multilateral framework for the nuclear fuel cycle. On the front end, he said proposals included creating an actual or virtual reserve “fuel bank of last resort” to assure nuclear fuel supply, which would operate on the basis of apolitical and non-discriminatory non-proliferation criteria. Another proposal focused on converting a national facility into an international enrichment centre, while a third proposal sought to construct a multinational enrichment facility under Agency control.
He said the Agency had examined those proposals and the associated legal, technical, financial and institutional aspects. Controlling nuclear material was a complex process, he explained, yet, if the international community failed to act, it could be “the Achilles’ heel of the nuclear non-proliferation regime”. An incremental approach was needed, starting with the establishment of an equitable system for supply assurance, and followed by bringing any new operations for uranium enrichment and plutonium separation under multinational control.
On scientific activity surrounding peaceful nuclear applications related to agriculture, he highlighted the success of the Atoms for Peace plant breeding initiative, which, in Asia, had developed more than 20 new food crop varieties, and helped Sri Lankan farmers grow a variety of green bean that was tolerant to saline soil.
Turning to nuclear safety and security, he said the primary responsibility for safety rested with the operator of a nuclear facility or user of a nuclear technique, as well as with the Government overseeing that operation or use. “Technology can be transferred, but safety culture cannot; it must be learned and embedded,” he said. Operators and regulators alike must guard against hazards such as an overemphasis on cost savings or an impulse to cover up problems. The Agency’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service, which combined previous services ranging from nuclear safety to emergency preparedness, was contributing to a more active knowledge exchange among senior regulators. Moreover, the Agency’s nuclear security programme had maintained its rapid pace of programme delivery. He noted that, over the past year, the Agency had helped to improve physical protection at facilities, and had helped improve States’ border detection capability through training in detection techniques and use of relevant instruments.
Regarding nuclear verification, he said the nuclear non-proliferation and arms control regime continued to face a “broad set of challenges”, and that effective verification must be supported by four essential elements: adequate legal authority; state-of-the-art technology; access to all relevant information; and sufficient human and financial resources.
Noting that more than 10 years had passed since the Model Additional Protocol was approved by the Board of Governors, he said the Additional Protocol had enhanced the Agency’s access to nuclear facilities, enabling it to draw credible conclusions on the peaceful nature of a country’s declared nuclear programme and the absence of undeclared nuclear facilities. However, to date, just over half of the 162 States with safeguards agreements had brought additional protocols into force. More than 100 States had yet to conclude additional protocols and 31 States party to NPT had not even brought their required comprehensive safeguards agreements into force. He urged all States to bring both instruments into force.
Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said an Agency team had visited in June to work out agreed modalities for the verification and monitoring of the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. The Agency was able to verify the shutdown of that facility as of 17 July. He welcomed Pyongyang’s return to the verification process, and its active cooperation shown to the Agency team.
Regarding the implementation of Agency safeguards in Iran, he said the Agency had verified the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in the country. Also, Iran had continued to provide the access and reporting needed to enable verification, as well as additional information and access needed to resolve long-standing issues, such as the scope and nature of past plutonium experiments. However, contrary to Security Council decisions calling on Iran to take confidence-building measures, the country had not suspended its enrichment-related activities and continued to build the heavy water reactor at Arak. That was regrettable.
While the Agency had been unable to verify certain important aspects relevant to the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, Iran and the Secretariat had agreed in August on a work plan for resolving outstanding verification issues, he said. Iran’s agreement to that plan was, therefore, an important step in the right direction, he stressed, noting that Iran’s active cooperation and transparency were key in that regard. “If the Agency were able to provide credible assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran’s past and current nuclear programme, this would go a long way towards building confidence,” he said, adding that he would report on the implementation of the plan to the Agency’s Board of Governors next month.
On the Agency’s technical cooperation programme, he said opportunities for cooperative ventures, such as jointly-owned and managed nuclear power plants, were “coming to the drawing board”, a positive trend. On budgetary matters, he said the Agency remained underfunded in many critical areas, a situation which would lead to a steady erosion of its ability to perform key functions if left unaddressed. To remedy the situation, the Secretariat would conduct a study of the Agency’s programmes for the next decade –- entitled ‘20/20’ –- to help determine what resources would be needed.
He believed the time had come to develop a new framework for the use of nuclear energy which accounted for both lessons learned and the current reality. Such a framework should include robust technological innovation in nuclear power and applications; a multinational framework for the fuel cycle at the front and back end, to assure supply and curb proliferation risk; and universal application of comprehensive safeguards and the additional protocol as the standard for nuclear verification.
Moreover, the framework should recognize the link between non-proliferation and disarmament, and, therefore, the need for rapid progress towards nuclear disarmament through deep cuts in existing arsenals, downgrading of alert levels for deployed nuclear weapons and resuscitation of multilateral disarmament efforts. Those efforts should start with bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and starting negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. A robust international security regime, universal nuclear safety regime and sufficient funding for the Agency to meet its increasing responsibilities were also needed.
In closing, he said the Agency’s mission was critical in both good times and bad. “Our professionalism, impartiality and independence are vital, both publicly and behind the scenes,” he said. “As I said in Oslo, when we were honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize –- another landmark in our history -- a durable peace is not a single achievement, but an environment, a process and a commitment.”
Introduction of Draft Resolution
Introducing the draft text on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (document A/62/L.5), MILENKO E. SKOKNIC (Chile), President of the Board of the Agency’s Board of Governors, thanked Mr. Elbaradie for his report and the additional information on the Agency’s activities he had presented to the Assembly today. He said that the draft before the Assembly enjoyed the sponsorship of some 90 Member States and reflected a broad consensus that took note of the Agency’s annual report and the resolutions that it had approved during the past year. It also expressed support of the Agency’s efforts in nuclear safety verification and technical assistance to Member States in developing countries. He added that the current text included some technical corrections that ensured that it mirrored the draft that had been adopted earlier in Vienna. He hoped that the large number of sponsors was an indication that, this year, the draft could be adopted without a vote.
JORGE DE LEMOS GODINHO (Portugal), on behalf of the European Union, said the Union considered the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocol a pre-requisite to an effective and credible safeguards system and was working towards making the Additional Protocol a condition of supply for nuclear exports. The Union urged all Member States that had not done so, to sign an Additional Protocol without further delay. It also advocated that all States that had signed, but not yet brought into force their respective Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols, do so immediately, as both strengthened the international non-proliferation regime, contributed to the security of all States and increased the confidence necessary for international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
He continued, saying the safety and security of radioactive sources and the role of the Code of Conduct adopted by the IAEA General Conference in 2003 were of the utmost importance. The Union insisted that all countries declare their political commitment to the Code and implement the Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources. The Union regretted there were more than 100 States still in need of signing and bringing into force the Additional Protocols and recommended those States proceed accordingly without delay.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that IAEA had emerged as a key multilateral forum for the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was important to preserve the Agency’s three pillars, and State parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) should strictly adhere to and promote those objectives. He said that MERCOSUR fully supported the right of Member States to use nuclear energy as a source of energy for socio-economic development, as set out under NPT. Any attempt to redefine the delicate balance of rights and obligations under NPT could contribute to undermining the framework that the Treaty had established and which enjoyed broad acceptance.
He said that MERCOSUR supported the Agency’s efforts to boost cooperation in waste management, nuclear safety and security, and technology transfer with developing countries, and its cooperation in that regard with regional organizations. He also noted the effective verification system that IAEA implemented, as a measure to assure the international community about the peaceful purpose of nuclear programmes. At the same time, he stressed that greater efforts needed to be made in the area of safeguards. He made special mention in that regard of the Common System for Accounting and Control applied by the Brazilian Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, as well as the valuable cooperation between that Agency and IAEA.
He went on to highlight the positive outcome of IAEA in achieving the objective of facilitating the use of nuclear science to address, in a sustainable manner, the socio-economic needs of States, including in the areas of water resource management, food production, environmental protection and health care. The Southern Common Market agreed with the Agency that science and technological research should be devoted to the design and building of safe and more efficient nuclear power sources and reactors. He expressed concern about rising deposits of spent fuel and other high activity waste. At the same time, the Market recognized the efforts IAEA was taking in the area of nuclear facility safety and waste disposal.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU ( Benin), on behalf of the African Group, said that he supported IAEA in its efforts to ensure the safe availability of nuclear power to States and called upon Member States to comply with all safety measures. He also said that attention must be given to the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and to maintaining all safeguards in that process. He also called for the development of small and medium-sized reactors, noting Africa’s contribution to that effort. He encouraged the Agency in its research and development activities to find reliable solutions for managing spent fuel and high-level waste and supported the creation of a fuel bank of last resort under IAEA auspices, to operate on a non-political, non-discriminatory, non-proliferation basis.
He commended the Agency for its activities regarding the development and sharing of other peaceful applications of nuclear energy, especially in the fields of medicine, food supply and agriculture, pest control and management of water resources, among other areas. He was also encouraged by the Agency’s efforts to enhance nuclear safety in emergency situations and in improving border detection capabilities with handheld and fixed radiation detection instruments. He said that such assistance should be offered to all African States, upon request, in keeping with the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).
On the promotion of international cooperation, he hoped that the Agency would pursue implementation of the Declaration and the Plan of Action adopted by African Ministers of Energy at their conference in January to responsibly use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in compliance with non-proliferation norms. He also stressed the need for cooperation in settling international disputes regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and welcomed the return of IAEA personnel to monitor and verify the recent agreement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He also called for the establishment of a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, and for the peaceful settlement of all pending issues there.
V.I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that, as a founding member, his country had always been an active supporter of IAEA. Now a respected and powerful organization, it played a unique role in monitoring compliance with international agreements to ensure that the power of the atom was used responsibly and for exclusively peaceful purposes. The Agency’s significance would only grow during the current century. He supported its verification mechanisms and the further development of its monitoring capacities. It was essential that the Additional Protocol on guarantees to NPT be made universal. In September of this year, the Protocol was ratified by the Russian Federation, and his Government would continue its support of strengthening the IAEA’s system of safeguards.
The threat of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction made effective international efforts for non-proliferation essential, he said. The inhumanity of terrorist acts, which his country had experienced, was evidence of that need. Consolidation of joint actions to forestall new challenges and threats, including in the nuclear sphere, was of primary importance, he said, citing the initiative of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States to fight nuclear terrorism, already joined by 62 States, as an example.
Additionally, it was necessary to establish practical standards for countries who observed their international obligations to attain access to nuclear energy, he said. The Russian Federation President had set out an initiative for a global atomic energy infrastructure that would establish international centres to provide enriched fuel to those countries, so that they would not have to develop their own enrichment processes. A uranium enrichment centre was now functioning in Angarsk, Kazakhstan, and sponsored by his country and Kazakhstan, that was open to third countries without conditions. It was currently in the process of being safeguarded by IAEA. He also supported other international initiatives for development of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, safe use of atomic power stations, non-proliferation and environmental protection.
Speaking on the Iranian situation and the role of IAEA, he said that “complex problems require a complex approach”, and expressed satisfaction with the initial cooperation between the Agency and Iran on the remaining issues. It was necessary to find a political-diplomatic solution with regard to Iran’s nuclear programme. He cited the work of the six-country negotiations on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme as an example of what was possible, and called for practical steps to realize phase two of that process.
CHENG JINGYE ( China) said that his Government would always support IAEA’s efforts to play a greater role in promoting that Agency’s two main objectives -– the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons -– in a balanced manner. China was pleased to note the progress that had been made in the area of technical cooperation over the past year. There had been an obvious increase in the amount of resources earmarked for such activities and the relevant programmes had made a positive contribution to promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy by Member States.
China cooperated actively in this sphere with IAEA and other Member States. In 2006, it had carried out 29 national projects and 50 regional/transregional projects in nuclear power generation, nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry and nuclear engineering technologies. On enhancing nuclear safety, he said that, last year, China had joined the Agency’s Database on the Illicit Trafficking of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material, and had established, in cooperation with IAEA, a Nuclear Safeguards and Security Training Centre in Beijing. China had also made specific arrangements with IAEA on nuclear safety cooperation and the two sides planned to cooperate on nuclear security public events, including during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Turning to non-proliferation, he said China supported the Agency’s unremitting efforts to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of its safeguards system. China hoped the Agency would further promote the universality of the Additional Protocol. He went on to say that IAEA also played an important role in solving regional nuclear issues. It not only conducted monitoring and verification on the shuttering of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it had also made progress with Iran in clarifying its outstanding issues concerning its nuclear programme. Finally, he said that China reaffirmed its support for the preservation of the international nuclear non-proliferation regimes and its position on nuclear weapons. China believed that regional nuclear issues should be resolved through diplomatic negotiations and consultations “on an equal footing” to maintain global and regional security and stability.
RODOLFO BENITEZ VERSON ( Cuba) said the world was faced with an unprecedented energy crisis and an alternative, sustainable source of energy was necessary now more than ever. As such, IAEA efforts to build capacity and to promote awareness of nuclear power for peaceful purposes were much appreciated. The supply of nuclear fuel as a means of political or economic coercion, or as a way to establish a monopoly over its distribution, was unacceptable. Developing countries should foster cooperation on matters of nuclear energy. The Regional Cooperative Agreement for the Advancement of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL) had been particularly successful and had resulted in a Regional Strategic Framework for Latin America and the Caribbean.
He added that, though his country had supported the work of IAEA and had even offered aid for those affected by the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the economic, commercial and financial sanctions imposed by the United States on the Caribbean were affecting the technical cooperation IAEA provided his country. The sanctions hindered the purchase of equipment and prevented Cuban specialists from attending meetings held in the United States. He reiterated his Government’s “utmost rejection” of the political manipulation of IAEA Technical Cooperation.
Countries had an inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said. Attempts to prejudge the character of certain countries’ nuclear programmes were unacceptable, since IAEA was the only body with the authority to verify the fulfilment of obligations incurred under the respective Safeguards Agreements. Outside pressure or “wrongful interference” in the Agency’s work might compromise its credibility and efficiency. In regards to the nuclear issue in Iran, the recently agreed-upon work plan was a positive step towards a rational solution and any attempt to apply extra conditions, such as the unilateral suspension of nuclear fuel cycle activities in Iran, would be discriminatory, illegal, and would violate the sovereign equality of all States. Unconditioned dialogue was necessary for peaceful solutions and, as such, he welcomed the recent six-party talks to find a solution to the Korean nuclear question. In conclusion, he said that, despite the proclaimed ending of the cold war, there were 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with more than 12,000 ready to be immediately deployed. The mere existence of nuclear weapons and the doctrines prescribing their possession were a serious threat to international peace and security and the selective application of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was unacceptable. “Nuclear disarmament is and should continue to be the highest priority in the area of disarmament.”
ABDULLAH AHMED AL MURAD ( Kuwait) said, since joining NPT in 1986, his Government had implemented numerous initiatives to build national capacity and ensure the safe handling of nuclear materials. The Agency played a key role in the exchange and transfer of nuclear information and know-how to developing countries. Its efforts to promote the use of nuclear energy to foster peace, health and prosperity and, in particular, its work concerning the applications of nuclear science and technology to treat cancer were much appreciated.
The Agency also had a vital role to play in preventing the use of nuclear power for military purposes, he said. It was regrettable that calls for some countries to join NPT were being ignored. The Middle East, for example, would never achieve peace and stability as long as Israel remained the only country in the region that refused to subject its facilities to the safeguards regime of IAEA. Such action could encourage other States in the region to seek nuclear weapons “under the pretext of the Agency’s overlooking and laxness in dealing with the countries that refuse to open their installations for verification”. All weapons of mass destruction should be removed from the region, though States should still be allowed to acquire the experience they need in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
On the subject of nuclear activity in Iran, he called on the international community to work towards a peaceful solution to the crisis. He welcomed the recent agreement between Iran and IAEA as an important step on the road to dispel fears and doubts surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme. Dialogue and cooperation should be transparent and flexible enough to ensure a successful outcome for the discussions currently taking place in Tehran. In conclusion, he reiterated his support for the work of IAEA in its work to ensure full, non-selective implementation of NPT and its pillars of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHAVEZ BASAGOITIA ( Peru) said that his country remained firmly committed to curbing the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and biological weapons and their delivery systems. Peru took part in regional initiatives in that regard, including the Andean Zone of Peace among others. Peru fully supported all national commitments in the area of nuclear non-proliferation and was concerned at the deadlock on such issues in recent years. He called on all Member States to press ahead with relevant delegations in an open and productive manner.
He said that IAEA’s role could be strengthened in order to ensure safety in such areas as nuclear waste disposal, trafficking of nuclear materials, and the implementation and monitoring of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Peru supported the objective of NPT and other international commitments in the area of disarmament. It also believed that dialogue and negotiation should be favoured, in order to ensure implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and IEAE commitments.
In that regard, Peru welcomed improvements in the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and called for negations in that area to continue. Peru also was awaiting IAEA’s report of the state of Iran’s nuclear programme. Finally, he underscored that, in the current global situation, the credibility of the international non-proliferation regime must be strengthened and verification and control mechanisms enhanced. Broad efforts should be aimed at ensuring the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and ensuring that the spectre of the use of a nuclear weapon by a terrorist group did not become a reality.
MAGED ABDULAZIZ ( Egypt) said the comprehensive safeguards system applied by the Agency in non-nuclear-weapon States was one of the most central international systems employed to maintain peace and security. However, that system was far from universal and, especially in the Middle East, the international community should intensify efforts to apply those safeguards. A nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would contribute to confidence-building and comprehensive peace. The lack of stability in the region resulting from the presence of nuclear facilities outside the comprehensive safeguards system demanded a more effective response by the international community, since the situation threatened to trigger a nuclear arms race.
Turning to the need of developing countries for clean and economic energy, he said IAEA played a growing role in supporting sustainable development and facilitating non-nuclear-weapon States in fulfilling nuclear power needs. It was regrettable that the transfer of nuclear technology from developed to developing countries was being further impeded by unjustified restrictions and preconditions regarding nuclear materials needed to develop peaceful nuclear programmes. Reinterpretations of article IV of NPT only led to further suspicions between its members and added new challenges to the credibility and effectiveness of the comprehensive safeguards system. Though non-nuclear-weapon States had given up the military nuclear option, they still faced additional pressures aimed at imposing more obligations and additional safeguards. Those additional requirements ignored the voluntary nature of any new international commitments and the universality of the safeguards system.
In conclusion, he confirmed the importance of IAEA technical cooperation activities for Egypt and other developing countries. The role of IAEA in technology transfer should be strengthened through stabilizing and increasing funds allocated for technical cooperation. His Government would continue to work closely with the Agency to enhance national capabilities in the area of peaceful applications of nuclear technologies and explore means of benefiting from nuclear technology for power generation and other peaceful applications.
ARUNA KUMAR VUNDAVALLI ( India) said the world was on the threshold of a paradigm shift. Demand for energy was on the rise, especially in developing countries, but the unmindful and unsustainable use of fossil energy was leading to global warming and climate change. Nuclear power could play an important role in helping to meet the growing demand for energy without the serious environmental consequences. As such, IAEA should take the lead in alleviating misapprehensions about the safe design, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of nuclear power plants and waste disposal.
He said India had pursued a three stage nuclear programme designed to maximize the energy potential from its domestic uranium and thorium resources without adding to the global carbon dioxide burden. Opening international civil nuclear cooperation would open up the possibility of exporting reactors and services, particularly to countries wishing to enter nuclear power generation with relatively modest investments and infrastructure. Given the large manufacturing base and relatively low manufacturing costs, India had the potential to become a manufacturing hub for equipment and components for the global nuclear industry. Activities related to capacity-building and nuclear knowledge maintenance for sustainable energy development were greatly appreciated, as was the Agency’s work on the subject of nuclear applications in agriculture, health, nutrition, the environment and industry.
On the subject of nuclear security, he said his Government had organized a number of workshops and trainings under the aegis of IAEA for the Asia Pacific region. He noted with approval many of the Agency’s initiatives in that regard, such as its Incident and Emergency Centre and the Emergency Preparedness Review. Nuclear verification was a high priority, which his delegation had worked towards strengthening through the safeguards system. “A global nuclear energy renaissance increasingly appears not just inevitable, but a necessity,” he said. However, it would rest on a fragile foundation unless robust inclusive partnerships were built on the basis of trust and mutual understanding. The adoption of closed fuel cycle options to maximize energy availability should be an integral part of that rebirth. There were risks and challenges, but they were within the professional competence of existing technology and institutional control. Answers could be found if every responsible partner was seen not as a problem, but as part of the solution.
LESLIE B. GATAN ( Philippines) said his country attached great importance to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the vast benefits it had for all nations, particularly the developing ones. The Philippines and IAEA had expansive links in technical cooperation and had had much success in terms of increasing agricultural and industrial productivity, irradiation of food exports, access to clean drinking water and addressing environmental challenges. Another essential programme was the Programme of Action on Cancer Therapy (PACT), which the Philippines believed would lead to enhanced cancer training capabilities in the region.
He continued, saying nuclear security posed an area of concern and the support the Agency provided to Member States was essential to establishing effective national nuclear security regimes and to preventing nuclear accidents. High standards of safety for nuclear power facilities needed to be maintained, especially with the increasing number of power plants. However, the Agency had done its job, doing much to assure the international community that nuclear materials were not misused or in the wrong hands -– that they were used only for peaceful purposes. Improved technological capabilities and methodologies would continue to detect undeclared nuclear material.
R.M. MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) expressed his appreciation for the emphasis IAEA placed on the use of nuclear energy and technology for development. There were rising expectations for nuclear energy, especially as a means to generate electricity, and the Asia Pacific region was one of the most dynamic in the world in terms of nuclear power development. The Agency’s promotion of the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy was particularly important for Indonesia, as it was embarking on a nuclear power programme and was currently at the crucial stage of dissemination of information and education about the role nuclear energy played in sustainable development. The Agency had also effectively broadened awareness of the future role of nuclear energy in the challenge of climate change.
His Government attached great importance to IAEA technical cooperation for the transfer of nuclear science and technology to Member States, he said. That cooperation had resulted in numerous projects in the fields of energy, food, agriculture, health and the environment. In the future, it would be essential for the Agency to have adequate resources, for that cooperation to continue effectively. Not only should financing be strengthened, but the Agency should also pursue a more balanced allocation of its budget to reflect the equal importance of its many activities, while promoting technical cooperation. Measures to strengthen nuclear security should not hamper international cooperation on peaceful nuclear activities. His country was particularly concerned by potential accidents in the transportation of spent fuel and nuclear waste and he welcomed the Agency’s efforts to strengthen cooperation on that issue. He reaffirmed his Government’s support for the strengthening of safeguards pursuant to the provisions of NPT and noted the call for the development of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle as a measure for strengthening non-proliferation.
Turning to certain regional nuclear issues, he voiced concern for the continued inability to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, due to the continuously defiant attitude and policy of one single country. Further, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was of utmost importance for peace and stability in that region and the implementation of recent agreements was a positive step forward. Finally, in regards to the Iranian nuclear issue, he welcomed the recent work plan and said its timely implementation would be the key to a peaceful and statutory resolution.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that, in recent years, energy demands had expanded and global warming had intensified. Nuclear power generation was expected to expand, as well as a means to ensure a steady energy supply and to combat climate changes. Last May, Japan had introduced a new proposal called “Cool Earth 50” to address global warming, and, as part of its proposal to establish an effective post-2012 global climate accord, Japan would promote international efforts to expand safe and peaceful uses of nuclear power. It would also work to provide assistance, such as infrastructure development for introducing nuclear power to developing countries. He added that, in introducing and expanding nuclear energy, it was essential to ensure non-proliferation, safety and security.
From that perspective, he said that IAEA’s role had become ever more important. For its part, Japan had strictly limited the use of nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes since 1955, when it had introduced nuclear power. Since that time, Japan had gone a long way to gain international confidence, through, among other measures, faithful implementation of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, concluded in 1977, and the early conclusion of the Additional Protocol. Japan planned to further expand its use of nuclear energy, and would at the same time uphold its established policy on peaceful uses through the strict application of safeguards.
He went on to say that the international community currently faced a number of serious challenges, such as the nuclear issues concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and the threat of nuclear terrorism. The unanimous adoption of Security Council resolutions against those threats demonstrated the international community’s strong will, and Japan welcomed worldwide concerted action to curb those threats and called on all Member States to implement the relevant resolutions.
He said that the first session of the Preparatory for the 2010 NPT Review Conference had been held in April and May under Japan’s Chairmanship in Vienna. Despite some difficulties, the Preparatory Committee had reached “common recognition” of the need to promote the Treaty’s three pillars -– nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. That Committee had also made a good start towards the success of the 2010 Review, which would be an important step in reinforcing the NPT regime. He added that strengthening the IAEA safeguards system was vital to reinforcing the non-proliferation regime. Japan believed that the universal application and adoption of the Additional Protocol was the most realistic and effective way to achieve that objective.
On the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that that country’s proclaimed nuclear test last October, coupled with its build-up of ballistic missile capabilities, were threats to regional and international peace and security. Those activities also threatened the NPT regime. In that regard, it was important that Security Council resolution 1718 (2006) was steadfastly implemented. He underscored recent welcome and important developments, including Pyongyang’s commitment, in the outcome document of the six-party talks, to the declaration of all its nuclear programmes and the disabling of three facilities in Yongbyon. Japan continued to work towards peaceful resolution of nuclear issues within the framework of the six-party talks, with a view to resolving outstanding issues, including abductions, nuclear and missile issues, settling the “unfortunate past” and realizing the normalization of relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He also said that Iran, regrettably, continued to expand its uranium enrichment-related activities in defiance of calls from the international community. Japan hoped that Iran would sincerely cooperate with IAEA in the current consultations aimed at resolving “outstanding issues”. At the same time, he stressed that resolving those issues would not alone remove all the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran had to make further efforts to restore the global community’s confidence by responding sincerely to the requirements set out by the IAEA Board and Security Council resolutions, as well as implementation of the Additional Protocol.
HJALMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to IAEA and its valuable role in international nuclear cooperation and safety. While the three pillars of the Agency’s Statute “remained solid”, the verification of the peaceful uses of nuclear materials in order to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons was currently facing its greatest challenge. Member States could spare no efforts in ensuring a high level of safety in all nuclear and radiological application and installations. Iceland strongly supported international cooperation to maintain and improve safety in that area and reiterated the important and indispensable role of IAEA.
He went on to say that Iceland attached great importance to IAEA’s technical cooperation work that was aimed at the use of nuclear technology in a safe, secure and sustainable manner, including in the areas of human health, food, agriculture, nuclear science and the management of radioactive waste. Nuclear technology played an important role in fighting the spread of hunger, in particular in developing countries.
Turning to some specific issues, he welcomed recent developments regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and appreciated IAEA’s swift response last February following the diplomatic breakdown. The shuttering of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities and the implementation of the verification and monitoring measures by IAEA were important first steps, he said, going on to urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resume the implementation of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement under NPT.
On Iran, Iceland hoped that the current work plan between Iran and IAEA would lead to the resolution of outstanding questions. At the same time, Iceland had strong concerns about the implications of Iran’s nuclear programme and regretted that that country had not fulfilled its obligations under Security Council resolutions. The Iranian Government must take steps to build confidence regarding the scope and nature of its programme. Moreover, Iceland urged Iran to ratify and bring into force the Additional Protocol.
LESLIE M. GUMBI ( South Africa) said the increase in the number of countries considering nuclear power to meet energy needs created new challenges and responsibilities for the global community. Mastering the nuclear fuel cycle would result in more countries moving closer to nuclear weapons capability, which would, in turn, affect the Agency’s verification activities, nuclear fuel management, nuclear safety, and technical cooperation assistance. In terms of the IAEA budget, there were inadequate funds for technological innovation investments. That situation needed to be corrected in order for the Agency to rid itself of its dependency on one country’s technical resources to carry out its verification mandate. That dependency could negatively affect the entire Agency’s credibility. The comprehensive safeguards system should be strengthened, since the system and its additional protocols were essential to creating a favourable environment for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
The Technical Cooperation Fund deserved urgent attention to ensure that its projects received sufficient and predictable funding, he said. In the future, the Agency should incorporate those projects in its regular budget to ensure the utmost effectiveness. In regard to the nuclear fuel cycle, it was regrettable that a number of proposals made recently were geared towards restricting the right of countries to develop domestic capabilities. Unwarranted restrictions should not be imposed on those countries and a non-discriminatory approach was necessary to ensure a reliable supply of nuclear fuel, with respect for non-proliferation obligations and the rights of States to pursue peaceful nuclear programmes. South Africa was considering a cooperative approach to the fuel cycle, from the mining and processing of uranium to nuclear power generation and waste disposal. All regulatory functions would be centralized in a single nuclear and radiation safety statutory agency.
He reiterated his country’s support for the conversion of civilian facilities from highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium, but cautioned against attempts aimed at efforts to reduce highly enriched uranium for peaceful civilian purposes. Further, nuclear safety was proving to be an integral part of nuclear programmes and required more serious consideration. Agency Safety Standards were the benchmarks for the implementation of the regulatory mandate. Greater harmonisation between requirements related to safety and security should be considered. Nuclear terrorism was one of the greatest challenges the world faced in reaching the common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Each nation had the responsibility to move towards progress in nuclear disarmament and other related nuclear arms control measures. The elimination of nuclear weapons would “effectively curb their proliferation because you cannot proliferate what you do not have”.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said the increasing demands of Member States for the use of nuclear science and associated technology to meet sustainable socio-economic requirements underscored the need for ensuring the comprehensive fulfilment of the Agency’s mandate. Nuclear technology had broad peaceful applications in the fields of food production, health, water resource management and agriculture, and was a reliable source of energy for development. As such, a number of countries, in particular developing countries, had introduced or expanded the construction of nuclear power reactors. Strengthening the technical cooperation activities of IAEA to improve the capabilities of developing countries in nuclear energy production should be pursued as a matter of priority.
He said NPT recognized the inalienable right of all States parties to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, the cooperation of developed countries -– as the main suppliers of modern technology -- with developing nations remained at an unsatisfactory level. Nuclear cooperation between suppliers and recipients had been beset by restrictions and obstacles aimed at hampering the access of developing countries to nuclear power technology under the pretext of non-proliferation concerns. The Agency should play a decisive role in remedying that shortcoming by pursuing a balanced and non-discriminatory application of the provisions of NPT and the safeguards. He added that it was unfortunate that the budget of the international cooperation section of the Agency remained unsteady due to its voluntary nature and the conditionality imposed by certain Member States.
Despite efforts by the Agency to apply and promote the universality of the safeguards system, he said it was distressing that some States continued to refuse to sign, ratify and implement the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements. Further, there was a dangerous trend at work moving in the opposite direction. Under that trend, those who have chosen not to accede to NPT. In particular, he pointed to the “Zionist regime [which] has been allowed to acquire a large stockpile of nuclear weapons in the volatile Middle East region” and to defy the will of all regional States and the international community.
On a national level, he stressed his country’s inalienable right to the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iran’s nuclear programme was completely peaceful and all IAEA reports since November 2003 were indicative of that fact. Nevertheless, “in an unwarranted move orchestrated by a few of its permanent members, the Security Council has taken unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable actions” against Iran’s nuclear programme. The move to bring the Iranian nuclear file to the Security Council was driven by ulterior motives and not by so-called proliferation concerns. Despite that fact, his Government had recently agreed to intensive negotiations to resolve a few outstanding issues. Those negotiations had resolved two major issues, namely the plutonium experiment and the contamination of the Karaj Facility. The issues of P1 and P2 centrifuges were currently under discussion.
The agreed work plan coming out of those discussions was described by the IAEA Director General as a “significant step forward”, he said, and that, combined with his Government’s efforts to ease concerns over its nuclear programme, should warrant the return of Iran’s nuclear file to the Agency’s framework in full. Multilateral means were necessary to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. Recent unilateral measures imposed by the United States against Iran would only undermine the current negotiations and cooperation between Iran and IAEA. “No amount of United States irrational policies will be able to dissuade us from pursuing our legitimate rights and interests,” he said. His Government would continue to develop peaceful aspects of nuclear technology, while fulfilling its obligations under NPT.
PARK HEE-KWON ( Republic of Korea) underlined the importance of promoting safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. Additional protocols should be applied universally in order to improve current safeguards and verification regimes. States that had not yet signed, ratified and implemented such protocols should do so without delay. His Government supported a new multilateral framework for the nuclear fuel cycle, as well as initiatives to provide reliable and equitable access to nuclear technologies and fuel, while limiting proliferation risks. The peaceful use of nuclear energy should be promoted to ensure a high standard of nuclear safety and security.
In regards to the six-party talks, he said there had been significant progress which had resulted in the re-establishment of relations between IAEA and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Agency had been able to verify the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility and continued to implement the ad hoc arrangement agreed upon in February. He commended the Agency on the successful implementation of that agreement and its monitoring and verification activities in the region. In September, another step forward was taken with an agreement on the “Second-Phase Actions for the Implementation of the September 2005 Joint Agreement”. According to that Agreement, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would completely disable its experimental reactor, reprocessing plan and nuclear fuel rod fabrication plant at Yongbyon by the end of the current year.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was expected to begin the disablement process in November, while the five other parties to the Agreement would begin taking corresponding measures, he continued. If the declaration and disablement measures were smoothly implemented, the abandonment of those nuclear facilities could be achieved in the following year. Completing those second-phase actions would give impetus to the negotiations aimed at achieving the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner. He expressed hope that the countries involved in the six-party talks and the international community as a whole would continue to support the process and continue to work closely for a peaceful resolution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear issue.
FIDELINO DE FIGUEIREDO ( Angola) noted that the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme was the main vehicle for sharing nuclear technology and know-how across countries in a cost-effective way, and so contributed to greater self-reliance among Member States, especially developing countries. But the Programme was beset by insufficient and unpredictable funding. He encouraged all Member States to pay their contributions to it in full and on time. Examples of ongoing technical cooperation programmes included the establishment of the first radiotherapy centre and the introduction of nuclear medicine techniques to clinical practices, among others.
He said IAEA had helped Angola establish a legal framework for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, leading to the promulgation of a national atomic energy law in June. As a result, the country would soon establish a national radiation protection institute. For the 2009-2011 technology cooperation cycle, Angola submitted six “concept projects” for IAEA’s consideration, such as strengthening national capacity in medical physics and the improvement of beans by mutation breeding, to name two. Centring on the chosen project, IAEA would organize training courses, seminars, workshops, scientific visits, fellowships and provide expert advice and equipment.
Although the peaceful uses of atomic energy might contribute to social and economic development throughout the world, he said the prevalence of disease and pest infestations in Africa would stand in the way of progress. The Agency was encouraged to proceed with its numerous projects, such as using the “sterile insect technique” to eradicate tsetse flies and supporting the development of an AIDS vaccine. Finally, he stressed the importance of reinforcing monitoring of the application of NPT and moving towards global disarmament. At the same time, all States had a right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said that his delegation highly appreciated IAEA’s work assisting developing countries in planning for and in the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. However, he said that more should be done to advance the inalienable rights of developing countries, particularly to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy. Those countries should also have the right to participate actively in the exchange of equipment, material and technology for peaceful purposes, without discrimination and in conformity with their respective safeguards agreements under NPT.
He went on to say that Malaysia had greatly benefited from the IAEA’s Technical Assistance and Cooperation Programme (TCAP). While it had been an initial TCAP recipient, Malaysia was now providing its experts for IAEA missions to other developing countries under the Programme. But, despite its commitment to the Programme, Malaysia was somewhat disappointed that, at times, it was unable to secure places for its scientists and engineers to be trained in the nuclear fields in countries with more advanced science and technology programmes. That could be attributed to a tightened control regime by those countries on the transfer of such technologies and equipment. While appreciating such concerns, he reaffirmed Malaysia’s intention to seek to develop indigenous expertise in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, in line with the non-proliferation and safeguards commitments under NPT. He urged IAEA to look into that matter with a view to “finding a way forward”.
Having foresworn the use of such weapons, Malaysia believed that developing countries that were States parties to NPT deserved to be accorded preferential treatment in terms of access to nuclear equipment, material and technology for peaceful uses over non-State parties, whether through TCAP or through bilateral agreements. He went on to say that there was increased interest in nuclear energy as an alternative energy source. Among developing countries, particularly those in Asia, there was a strong interest in harnessing nuclear power for meeting future energy needs. Indeed, the report of IAEA revealed that half of the 30 nuclear reactors under construction were in Asia.
He said that the three main factors fuelling interest in nuclear power were increased energy demands, increasing concerns about energy security and the challenge of climate change. Malaysia currently depended on indigenous natural gas resources for more than 70 per cent of its power generation, but, as a rapidly developing country, it would “keep its future energy options open”. To that end, Malaysia was keenly interested in developing equitable multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, believing that such arrangements would be beneficial in the long run, especially in cases where developing countries would need to eventually embark on a nuclear power programme to meet future energy needs. At the same time, Malaysia believed that any such approach should not adversely affect the inalienable rights of NPT States parties to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, either by imposing mandatory permanent suspension of any part of such rights as a pre-condition for the participation by such parties in any such multilateral approach, or any other.
Turning to other matters, he said that Malaysia remained concerned that a majority of nuclear-weapons States had yet to conclude the Protocol to the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. While welcoming China’s expressed readiness to accede, he called upon the remaining nuclear-weapon States to consider such a move. He also called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and called on Israel to acceded to NPT and place all its nuclear facilities in the scope of IAEA safeguards. On Iran, he said that Malaysia reiterated that IAEA was the sole competent authority for the verification of that country’s safeguards obligations. He said that Iran’s willingness to all continuous IAEA inspection of its nuclear facilities was a significant confidence-building measure that could gain the international community’s trust. He welcomed the recent positive developments between Iran and IAEA. Likewise, he welcomed recent positive actions taken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and viewed such actions as significant confidence-building measures.
DON PRAMUDWINAI ( Thailand) congratulated IAEA on the progress made on the work plan with Iran and the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and encouraged those countries to continue their cooperation with the Agency. He also supported broadening the Agency’s mandate to promote and regulate the peaceful uses of nuclear power for development and was ready to work with the Agency to improve nuclear security.
As a State party to NPT, Thailand supported the right of States to develop, research, produce and utilize nuclear technology for peaceful purposes without discrimination, he said. The role of nuclear energy for sustainable development should be re-evaluated in the context of energy security and climate change, in accordance with Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals. In that context, he saw nuclear power as a viable alternative to fossil fuels, noting Thailand’s plans to generate nuclear-powered electricity by 2021. The country’s operational and regulatory bodies for nuclear energy were already working with IAEA. He also hoped to cooperate with the Agency on developing nuclear applications in the fields of medicine, food and agriculture, environmental management and industry.
He urged countries to report their progress in fulfilling international obligations regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy and strengthening safeguards to IAEA. He welcomed the Agency’s efforts to explore multilateral mechanisms to ensure a reliable supply of, and access to, fuel cycle services for States that chose not to acquire full fuel-cycle capabilities. He also applauded the role of the Technical Cooperation Fund in strengthening technology transfer and promoting scientific and technological cooperation, but said that the Fund could be managed more effectively.
MIRJANA MLADINEO ( Croatia) noted that the election of Croatia’s representative to the IAEA Board of Governors as its Vice President confirmed the country’s readiness to play a constructive part in the Agency’s activities. Further, Croatia was among the co-sponsors of the draft resolution on the Agency’s report. She commended the Agency for its activities in the fields of technology, safety and verification and for its continuing efforts to address dangerous new trends in nuclear proliferation. She said that universal application of a strengthened safeguards system was an urgent priority and expressed concern that over 100 countries had yet to bring into force the Additional Protocols. She also called for greater verification resources, so that the Agency could deal effectively with growing verification demands.
Croatia supported IAEA efforts to prevent proliferation and increase nuclear security through: improvement of export and import controls; strengthening border controls; re-evaluation of national legislative frameworks; enabling more frequent exchange of information, nationally and internationally; and enhancing public awareness of proliferation issues. She further said that Croatia had ratified the Additional Protocol, the amendment to Article VI of the IAEA Statute and the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and supported the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, and the supplementary guidance on the import and export of radioactive sources.
The Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme was supporting five ongoing projects in Croatia, she said, in such areas as non-proliferation, radiation protection and the fight against trafficking and the potential threat of nuclear-related terrorism. She added that Croatia had strengthened its regional role, noting the importance of coordinated measures to maximize the peaceful use of nuclear energy and confront the growing risks of proliferation. In closing, she said that the challenges facing IAEA could only be met in partnership with its stakeholders: Member States, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, national counterparts and the public.
SERGEY RACHKOV ( Belarus) said that, over the 50 years of its existence, IAEA had secured its place as the leading international organization facilitating the safe use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and effective monitoring of international obligations with regard to non-proliferation. He noted the work of the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme with individual countries, to assist them in applying the most up-to-date nuclear technologies, particularly with regard to global nuclear and radiation safety. In the fight against nuclear terrorism, protection of nuclear and radioactive materials was being strengthened, he said, and called on all States to join the nuclear non-proliferation regime and an effective system of IAEA safeguards.
Belarus was an active supporter of all IAEA initiatives and adhered to the IAEA motto, “Atoms in the name of peace”. He stressed the importance of IAEA’s technical cooperation with Belarus, particularly as a country that had borne the burden of the Chernobyl tragedy. That cooperation had laid the groundwork, socially and medically, to help revive affected areas of the country.
He praised the Agency for its work with the growing number of countries wishing to establish their own nuclear programmes. The Agency should start discussing new approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle that would guarantee nuclear fuel to interested users. Despite the complexities of the issues, he said, any country meeting its obligations under NPT should have access to developing nuclear energy. Further, he expressed satisfaction that the Agency had called for international efforts to help the recovery from the Chernobyl accident, and called on Member States to support IAEA on that issue.
MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said his delegation attached great importance to the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme, and had benefited from the initiative’s work in the form of training, the provision of experts and the hosting of seminars and workshops. Pakistan had been one the first countries to launch a nuclear power generation programme, with its first plant having been operational since the early 1970s. The country’s second nuclear facility was currently on line and a third was under construction. Pakistan had developed the entire range of nuclear fuel cycle facilities, while at the same time making progress in other areas, including, among others, nuclear research and human health, where several radio-pharmaceuticals were being used extensively for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
He went on to say that the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission was also implementing the IAEA’s Programme of Action on Cancer Therapy and, in that regard, was now applying the latest techniques, acquiring suitable equipment and training radiation oncologists for better and more accurate therapy, with the Agency’s help. Further, Pakistan’s nuclear technology had also led to advancements in food processing and preservation, and water resources management. He said that, from the very beginning, Pakistan had recognized the vital objective of maintaining nuclear safety and security, at both national and international levels. The Government had, therefore, established a strong safety and security infrastructure, had adopted a national nuclear regulatory plan and belonged to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and other relevant IAEA instruments.
He said that, along with Pakistan’s expanding economy in recent years, had come the rising demand for energy. The country’s indigenous energy resources were limited and the Government had, therefore, adopted a 25-year energy security plan to address the matter. That strategy called for the maximum use of indigenous energy resources, such as coal, local gas and renewable energies to reduce dependence on imported fuels. To support planned expansion of nuclear power, Pakistan had begun to build a uranium conversion and enrichment facility that would cater to the needs of fuel for its power plants. At the last IAEA General Conference, Pakistan had announced the possibility of placing that facility under IAEA safeguards. That measure would be facilitated through Pakistan’s non-discriminatory integration arrangements for peaceful nuclear cooperation.
Finally, he said Pakistan was closely following recent proposals and initiatives on assurances in supply of nuclear fuel. The basis of accepting any such mechanism would be that of trust in the system. It should encourage expansion of nuclear power through the assured supply of nuclear fuel and other related services in a non-discriminatory manner. Above all, it should include all States with advanced fuel cycle capabilities without discrimination. He said that Pakistan complied with its important obligations under IAEA’s verification regime and shared the view that all States must comply fully with their obligations. The most important step towards maintaining the credibility of the safeguards regime was the fulfilment of legal obligations by all States. A balance between the Agency’s regulatory, promotional and safety functions would ensure the continuing relevance of the Agency into the twenty-first century.
NOORITA MOHAMED-NOOR ( Singapore) welcomed the closure of the Yongbyon nuclear facility in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the return of that country to the six-party talks. Continued cooperation would lead to enhanced security on the Korean peninsula. She added that cooperation between Iran and IAEA would also build confidence and resolve outstanding questions on Iran’s nuclear programme. Turning to regional issues, she said Asia Pacific’s demand for energy was commensurate with the region’s growing economic development. Demand would only increase in the future and, as such, it was now time to consider other sources of energy to replace the continued use of environmentally unfriendly fossil fuels.
Under NPT, States had the sovereign right to use nuclear energy for peaceful means, she said. States considering the use of nuclear energy had a responsibility to carefully consider safety issues and should adopt the necessary measures to allay any concerns. The IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety had a pivotal role to play in helping those countries achieve the necessary safety standards and build capacity in a secure manner. She welcomed IAEA activities towards that end, while stressing the need for the Agency to strengthen its technical cooperation with relevant countries through increased partnerships. The Agency safety standards were of paramount importance and provided a widely accepted basis for nuclear safety. Its new review initiatives were particularly welcome.
The effectiveness of IAEA depended, in large part, on cooperation from States, she said. Regional safety and security regimes, created under the auspices of IAEA, were useful in building national capacity within the IAEA framework. In her region, the plan of action to implement the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and the newly endorsed Nuclear Energy Safety Subsector Network would help to develop alternative, sustainable energy sources, while maintaining international standards on nuclear safety. Companies involved in the provision of nuclear energy plants must help ensure that nuclear power plants met the highest standards. On a global level, IAEA, with the cooperation of States, must continue to build confidence about the safety and security aspects of nuclear energy, while ensuring that nuclear energy did not become the source of future problems.
VIKTOR V. KRYZHANIVSKYI (Ukraine) said, by renouncing its nuclear weapons arsenal, his country had proven its dedication to using nuclear energy as a means for sustainable development for all nations seeking a more secure and predictable environment. The peaceful use of nuclear energy should be expanded in a safe and secure manner and should not increase the risk of weapons proliferation. He expressed his appreciation for the Agency’s work in evaluating worldwide, long-term use of nuclear energy, in creating a non-discriminatory mechanism of nuclear fuel supply, and its work in the field of fuel cycles and new safe reactors.
His country had suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant and effective safety standards were now his country’s top priority, he said. His Government continued to upgrade its approaches to safety improvement at the national level and in the framework of international cooperation. Efforts to enhance nuclear security and the improvement in the security of nuclear materials and radioactive sources were much appreciated. The comprehensive safeguards system and additional protocols were important tools in that regard, and all States should sign, ratify and implement the Safeguards Agreement without further delay. The universality of the safeguards system must be considered a priority and IAEA should devote special attention to safeguards implementation by countries striving to develop nuclear activities.
Mitigation of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster was also a top national priority, he said. The assistance of other countries towards that end, especially via contributions to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, was highly appreciated. Ukraine would initiate, during the current session of the General Assembly, a resolution on strengthening international cooperation to mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and looked forward to consensus. Finally, he expressed his support for the development of effective measures to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists, such as the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and his support for the overall work of IAEA.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that Kazakhstan took effective measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, including implementation of the Additional Protocol. In renouncing the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world, the country affirmed its firm commitment to meet its obligations. Kazakhstan continuously worked to strengthen the prevention of the illicit transfer of nuclear materials, she said, but warned that such work must not become a barrier to the peaceful use of atomic energy.
Kazakhstan was working with IAEA to revise the Code of Conduct for securing and storing radioactive sources. In the city of Kurchatov, work had begun on a nuclear technology park as a base for diverse uses of atomic energy. Further, she said that Kazakhstan, which had the world’s second largest uranium reserves, was aware of its responsibility to see that they were used for peaceful purposes. Kazakhstan signed an agreement with the Russian Federation on uranium enrichment in the city of Angarsk. She said that such international projects could provide secure and reliable sources of fuel, while preventing the spread of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technologies.
Kazakhstan was active regionally and internationally in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, she said. It recognized the right of nations to pursue peaceful nuclear technology. A way must be found to resolve conflict situations that had arisen, without impinging on the rights of countries to technological development and knowledge, and that that would lead to trust among countries. A system of controls over all the complex issues related to nuclear weapons and technologies must be devised. She called for the creation of international centres for the reliable provision of fuel for atomic power stations, and for the secure storage or disposal of nuclear waste, especially with regard to sensitive phases of the nuclear fuel cycle. That would require resolving political, commercial and financial questions.
OMAR AL-AMIN ABDALLAH ( Sudan) said IAEA played a growing role in coordinating international cooperation on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The Agency had achieved significant success in cooperating with various scientific bodies to improve the overall standard of living for people in need. In particular, he noted the development of new technologies in the field of agriculture, medical vaccines, and in the fight against cancer and said all States using nuclear energy had an obligation to undertake similarly progressive research.
He said the production of nuclear energy should be done in accordance with international standards. States should avoid imposing their own political agendas on IAEA and thus placing unnecessary pressure on the institution. Such actions threatened the Agency’s credibility. In particular, outside interference on regional nuclear issues should be avoided and IAEA and concerned States should be allowed to negotiate a peaceful resolution, without external pressures. The Treaty set a goal for nuclear-free zones in regions throughout the world. The Middle East was a long way from reaching that goal, due to Israel’s refusal to sign NPT and the additional protocols, despite calls by the international community. The only way to put an end to the tensions in the region was for Israel to sign the Treaty. Doing so would not only help to resolve issues in the region, but would help maintain international peace as well.
In conclusion, he commended the work of IAEA in Africa, such as its efforts to develop new technologies to fight malaria. Such efforts improved economic and social development in the region and helped countries in the implementation of national development programmes. He ended by calling on the international community for the allocation of additional resources towards that end.
Action on Draft
Next, the Assembly took up the text on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (document A/62/L.5).
Speaking in explanation of position before action, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was directly related to the removal of the United States hostile policies against his country. All along, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ultimate goal had been the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The joint statement of 2005 and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s practical steps taken, before and since that time, were testament to its position. His country would continue to implement its obligations under the 2005 joint Declaration, based on the principle of “actions for actions”. Such actions would include not only the removal of the United States hostile policies, but also removing his country from the United States list of “terrorist States”.
Further, he said Japan should follow with actions and not just words. The fact that Japan had earlier called for the implementation of “so-called” Security Council resolution 1718 was proof of that country’s real intention to block the current process. “No action would be resolved through sanctions and pressure,” he said. At the same time, he said that his delegation would join consensus on the text, “with strong reservations on some paragraphs” and would with the expectation that the six-party talks would continue apace, and that IAEA would continue to address the matter of the Korean nuclear issue in a fair manner.
The Assembly adopted the draft without a vote.
After action, the representative of Syria said that his delegation had joined consensus on the text, but at the same time was disappointed with the double standard practiced by several States in several successive conferences of IAEA, particularly regarding the Israeli nuclear threat. Those double standards and hypocrisy had led to the annual postponement of the discussion of that item, while major international pressure was being brought to bear on other States trying to exercise their sovereign right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The item had remained on the Conference’s agenda for more than a decade, during which time “a pile of resolutions” to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East had built up. Those texts had also called on Israel to abandon its nuclear choice and open its facilities to inspection along the same lines as other States in the region.
He added that Syria was disappointed at the international community’s failure to send a clear message to Israel of its intentions to implement the nuclear non-proliferation principle in an equitable manner. The annual vote that was usually held in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East was the position of those States that did not want obstacles placed in front of discussion of the item.
First, Israel remained the only State in the Middle East that was not a party to NPT. Moreover, the operating paragraphs emphasized the importance of Israel joining the non-proliferation treaty and opening its nuclear facilities to the comprehensive safeguards of IAEA. All those demands constituted an international and regional will to protect peace and security from the Israeli nuclear threat. He added that “continuous manoeuvres” to silence the voice of truth about the Israeli nuclear threat and the danger it posed to the Middle East would lead to the frustration of the nations and peoples, leading to a nuclear arms race that could threaten States who now covered up Israel’s actions.
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