Member States pledged their strong support for the indispensable role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy, transferring technology to developing countries and ensuring nuclear safety, as the General Assembly considered its annual report.
Adopting the resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/73/L.19) — transmitted in a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/73/315) and introduced by Jordan’s delegate — the 193‑member Assembly took note of several resolutions recently approved by the Vienna‑based IAEA. The Assembly also appealed to Member States to continue to support the Agency’s activities.
Throughout the debate, delegates commended IAEA’s efforts as the sole authority for verifying the fulfilment of safeguards obligations, with the European Union’s representative calling the safeguards system a fundamental component of the non‑proliferation regime. He stressed the need for the immediate universalization of comprehensive safeguards agreements together with additional protocols. European countries have worked to improve nuclear safety, he said, by conducting peer reviews on specific safety issues and by building a more transparent nuclear safety framework.
Others commended the Agency for providing technical assistance to developing countries — notably small States and least developed countries — and working to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The representative of Belarus said IAEA’s technical cooperation programmes, which address challenges related to social and economic development, have helped Belarus recover from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
South Africa’s delegate said his country has immensely benefited from IAEA’s scientific and technological support in the clinical management of oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Its nuclear applications, meanwhile, in agriculture, food security, human health, water resource management and animal health improve the socioeconomic development of developing countries.
Speakers also emphasized the inalienable right of every State to research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Noting that this right is outlined in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran’s representative expressed concern that the United States has withdrawn from that pact and reimposed its illegal sanctions against his country. The agreement outlines that any reimposition of sanctions while Iran remains compliant gives Iran the right to respond by wholly or partially ceasing to perform its duties. He called on the remaining participants to hold the United States accountable for its actions and ensure that his country is compensated unconditionally.
The representative of the Russian Federation called Iran “the most verified country” by the Agency. There are regular assurances that Tehran is complying with its obligations under the Plan of Action. Actions by the United States to undermine that agreement are deeply concerning. “The non‑proliferation system must remain non‑politicized,” he added.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed concern that the Agency’s report failed to acknowledge positive developments on the Korean Peninsula. “The IAEA has lost its impartiality as an international organization and is being abused for political purposes,” he said. Pyongyang has agreed to permanently shut down its Tongchang-ri engine test ground and rocket launch pad — under the observation of international experts — and is pursuing additional efforts to dismantle other nuclear facilities. However, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula can only be guaranteed if hostile relations that have persisted for decades come to an end.
On that point, Singapore’s delegate welcomed the inter‑Korean summit, which her country had hosted in June between the United States President and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Chairman. She encouraged all parties to take steps to implement the Joint Statement on the Singapore Summit, calling on Pyongyang to fulfil its Security Council obligations and return to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
In other matters, Assembly Vice‑President Sovann Ke (Cambodia) announced changes to the plenary schedule. Delegates will now consider the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council” on Tuesday, 20 November; the “Situation in Afghanistan” on Thursday, 6 December; and “Sport for development and peace” on Monday, 3 December.
Also speaking today were representatives of Jordan, Australia, Monaco, Thailand, Libya, Paraguay, China, Japan, Indonesia, Jamaica, India, Algeria, Argentina, El Salvador, Egypt, Cuba, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.
The representative of Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 14 November, to appoint members to the Joint Inspection Unit, United Nations Dispute Tribunal and United Nations Appeals Tribunal.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
ASEM MOHAMMAD THEEB ABABNEH (Jordan), introducing the draft resolution titled, “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/73/L.19), stressed the global importance of the Agency’s mandate. The report “strikes great balance” among activities that help consolidate international peace and security and enable the implementation of several Sustainable Development Goals. It also enjoys consensus among Agency Member States. The draft resolution is in line with cooperation initiatives between the Agency and the United Nations, he said, assuring the Agency of support by Member States and calling for the draft to be adopted by consensus.
GEORGIOS KRITIKOS, European Union, said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system is a fundamental component of the nuclear non‑proliferation regime, underscoring the Security Council’s responsibility in ensuring compliance with relevant agreements. The European Union is determined to work with the international community to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and deeply regrets the withdrawal of the United States from that pact. As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear‑related commitments, as confirmed by the Agency, the European Union will remain committed to fully implementing this nuclear deal. Reiterating the need for Iran to continue to abide strictly with all nuclear‑related commitments, he expressed full support for the Agency’s long‑term mission of verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear‑related commitments.
Welcoming the positive steps taken to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage seriously in follow‑on negotiations and take steps to embark on a credible path towards a complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization. Until Pyongyang takes such steps, the European Union will continue to strictly enforce existing sanctions and will call on all States to continue to do so as well. Turning to Syria, he urged Damascus to cooperate promptly with the Agency to resolve outstanding issues, including through concluding and implementing an Additional Protocol as soon as possible. He further called for the immediate universalization of comprehensive safeguards agreements together with Additional Protocols. The European Union has taken steps towards improving nuclear safety through peer reviews on specific safety issues and by building a more transparent nuclear safety framework. Member States must ensure the availability of sufficient resources for the Agency to carry out its mandate.
TATYANA FEDOROVICH (Belarus) said cooperation with the Agency must account for sustainable development. “The Agency is contributing towards achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she said, adding that the broad use of atomic energy can have medical and environmental benefits. Belarus supports IAEA safeguards and she called on the Agency to adhere to the priorities of relevant parties. The Agency’s technical cooperation programmes, which address challenges related to social and economic development, have helped Belarus recover from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Such accidents make clear the necessity of securing nuclear infrastructure, she said, encouraging the Agency to engage with States to that end and expressing support for today’s draft resolution.
VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said his country was at the forefront of the Agency’s creation and values its activities. IAEA must broaden international cooperation while bolstering the nuclear non‑proliferation regime, he said, adding that its mechanisms allow for close monitoring of compliance with international requirements. He noted that Iran is “the most verified country” by the Agency and there are regular assurances that Tehran is complying with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Actions by the United States to undermine the Plan of Action are deeply concerning. The Agency does not allow for resources to be provided to deconstruct nuclear infrastructure, he said, however it is renewing its readiness to enhance safeguards on the Korean Peninsula.
“The non-proliferation system must remain non-politicized,” he said, adding that the Russian Federation participates in Agency activities. He expressed full support for its technical cooperation efforts and said Moscow has signed peaceful atomic cooperation agreements with several countries. The Russian Federation supports the Agency’s work to assure the physical security of nuclear facilities. “The broad participation of States in protecting nuclear objects is crucial,” he said, calling on States to comply with relevant international agreements. The Agency must not go beyond its mandate, but rather work towards the peaceful use of the atom, he said, voicing support for the draft resolution.
PETER HORNE (Australia) citing the sixtieth anniversary of the Agency’s establishment, said nuclear science and technology, safety, security, safeguards and technical cooperation are as important today as in the beginning. Expressing strong support for increasing women’s representation in technical areas and in senior management, and recalling in that context the establishment of the “Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear”, he said Australia will provide an extra budgetary contribution to the Peaceful Uses Initiative for modernizing nuclear applications laboratories at Seibersdorf, Austria. Australia remains committed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of “North Korea”. While noting that country’s commitment to halt nuclear testing and allow international inspection of test sites, he said Australia will maintain pressure on Pyongyang until it takes steps towards complying with relevant Security Council resolutions.
ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) said that in a world where States are often confronted with myriad challenges, IAEA remains essential in advancing peace, agriculture and development. She underscored the various positive contributions of nuclear technology, adding that the Agency is critical to assessing the effects of climate change. Monaco shares IAEA’s deep commitment to science and improving the quality of life for all people, she said, noting that her country’s cooperation with the Agency dates to 1961, when a marine laboratory was created to evaluate the impacts of human activities on the sea. In 2012, the Agency also set up a centre to study the impacts of ocean acidification on fisheries and coastal populations. She pledged Monaco’s full commitment to working to advance the Agency’s mandate.
YANISA CHUCHOTTHAVORN (Thailand) said the Agency has contributed greatly to global security and plays an essential role in upholding the principles of nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation. Having ratified and acceded to a number of treaties under the Agency’s auspices, Thailand has benefited from its technical cooperation and assistance programmes. Furthermore, IAEA has designated the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology as a Collaborating Centre on water resources assessment and management. At the same time, Thailand hosted capacity‑building activities covering areas such as nuclear safety and radiation technology. As a member of its Board of Governors for 2018‑2020, Thailand looks forward to exploring other potential areas of collaboration and advancing the Agency’s work, she said.
Mr. BENSHABAN (Libya) said his country would continue to encourage IAEA to undertake its activities in a balanced manner to advance denuclearization and achieve socioeconomic development. He called on all Member States to continue to provide support for the Agency’s monitoring and verification programmes, expressing concern that some nuclear countries had taken a politicized approach to dealing with nuclear matters, and that such behaviour could undermine efforts to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He outlined various ways in which Libya uses nuclear energy to improve peoples’ lives, stressing that his Government would continue to work with IAEA to advance development and ensure denuclearization.
STEPHEN NTSOANE (South Africa) said IAEA’s nuclear applications in agriculture, food security, human health, water resource management, nuclear technology and animal health contribute to the socioeconomic development of developing countries. South Africa has immensely benefitted from IAEA’s scientific and technological support in the clinical management of oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases. The Agency has also supported South Africa’s initiative to control malaria. As the only country to have voluntarily dismantled its nuclear weapons programme — carried out under the Agency’s guidance — South Africa can attest to the indispensable role of the IAEA safeguards system.
ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) reaffirmed his country’s confidence in IAEA’s ability to promote international peace. The Agency’s nuclear verification work must not be used for military purposes and he reiterated Paraguay’s commitment to nuclear non‑proliferation. All States must facilitate IAEA verification and monitoring work. Paraguay is working with the Agency on the timely notification of the possession of nuclear material and of any plans for nuclear installations. Legislation is also in place to regulate security in the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. “The peaceful use of nuclear energy must be part of a transparent process,” he said, calling for efforts to limit damage on the environment and on human health. Technical cooperation is essential for developing countries to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he concluded.
SUN LEI (China) said the Agency is effectively implementing efforts to pursue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and making progress towards improving nuclear security. Growing use of nuclear energy plays a crucial role in adapting to climate change and achieving sustainable development. “The risk of nuclear terrorism cannot be ignored,” he said, pressing the Agency to focus on technical cooperation to support the application of nuclear energy in developing countries. Also, IAEA, through its safeguard mechanisms, must strengthen the non‑proliferation regime and promote regional and international cooperation. He welcomed efforts to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and noted progress towards achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Underscoring the importance of nuclear energy and pointing to China’s good nuclear safety record, he said “China supports international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and stands ready to increase cooperation with the Agency.”
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy, it is essential to strengthen existing safeguards. Japan advocates the universalization of the Additional Protocol with a view to strengthening these safeguards. Over the past seven years, Japan has worked to enhance nuclear safety, drawing on lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, and will continue to share its experiences with the international community. With a view towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Japan and IAEA have signed Practical Arrangements to cooperate on nuclear security. Turning to the Korean Peninsula, he expressed support for steps taken towards denuclearization, underscoring Japan’s commitment to working with the international community to achieve complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all “North Korea’s” nuclear weapons and programmes. “The international community needs to come together to support the process between the United States and North Korea,” he declared, also expressing support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
CHAN MEOW SHIANG (Singapore) said the Agency should provide sufficient technical assistance to developing countries — notably small States and least developed countries — to help them achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Recalling that the Singapore‑IAEA Third Country Training Program was signed in 2015, she welcomed IAEA partnerships at the regional level, which play a crucial role in fulfilling the Agency’s motto of “Atoms for Peace and Development”. IAEA conducted itself well over the past year in dealing with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea dossier, and in verifying and monitoring Iran’s activities under Security Council resolution 2231 (2016). She welcomed the recent inter‑Korean summits, recalling that Singapore had hosted the summit between the United States President and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Chairman in June. She urged all concerned parties to take steps to implement the Joint Statement on the Singapore Summit, and called on Pyongyang in particular to both fulfil its international obligations under relevant Council resolutions and return to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) encouraged IAEA to pursue its work in a balanced manner, including to promote the benefits of nuclear science and technology for development. The Agency is helping Indonesia develop its nuclear energy programme and supporting nuclear security measures. He said cooperation conducted through the Agency’s Peaceful Use Initiative supports least developed countries in establishing their safety infrastructure. Nuclear security efforts “must be pursued in a comprehensive manner” that goes beyond nuclear materials for peaceful use. Such efforts must not hamper international cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities or undermine the established priorities of the IAEA technical cooperation programme. Indonesia will pursue increased cooperation with the Agency on environmental issues.
DENIESE SEALEY (Jamaica) applauded the Agency’s work, including implementing safeguards in more than 180 countries, and extending support for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Jamaica has nine projects with the Agency, including to upgrade a research reactor, to organize irrigation management to improve crop output, and to build capacity for cancer diagnosis. New projects would tackle, among others, coastal and marine pollution, child obesity and the development and use of nuclear cardiac imaging in the diagnosis and management of non‑communicable diseases. Jamaica remains fully committed to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and looks forward to the third preparatory committee for the 2020 review conference. She welcomed the 2017 adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India) said IAEA’s work in food and agriculture, human health and nutrition, water resources management, and environmental protection is helpful in meeting the needs of developing countries. India will continue to provide IAEA support in these areas, he said, noting that advanced fission reactors, including fast reactors, foster more efficient use of nuclear fuel and reduced radioactive waste. Thorium‑based fuel cycles and technologies present opportunities for enhanced passive safety features, as well as the use of national Thorium resources and the metal’s inherent proliferation resistance. International collaboration under IAEA’s auspices would help provide a much wider resource base for nuclear technology development in this direction. He also welcomed IAEA’s work in nuclear fusion.
KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said his Government is making “proactive proposals” towards the establishment of peace and pursuit of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Those proposals foster an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation and advance efforts towards stability in Northeast Asia and the Asia‑Pacific region. He said summits held with the Republic of Korea and United States were enthusiastic, noting that his country decided to discontinue nuclear and inter‑continental ballistic rocket testing and to “irreversibly” dismantle its nuclear test ground. Pyongyang agreed to “permanently shut down” its Tongchang-ri engine test ground and rocket launch pad, under the observation of international experts, and is pursuing additional efforts to dismantle other nuclear facilities.
“The discontinuation of the nuclear test is an important process for global nuclear disarmament,” he said, adding that his country is fully committed to implement its agreements with the United States. However, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula can only be guaranteed if hostile relations that have marked the past decades come to an end. Relations between Pyongyang and Washington, D.C. must be based on “mutual trust and peaceful coexistence”, with confidence‑building initiatives working to remove deep‑rooted distrust. He warned that the Agency’s report fails to acknowledge positive developments on the Korean Peninsula. “The IAEA has lost its impartiality as an international organization and is being abused for political purposes,” he said, categorically rejecting the report.
MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria) welcomed international conferences on technical cooperation which provide an important opportunity to address the application of nuclear energy towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The expansion of technical cooperation requires adequate resourcing for IAEA. Within its national framework to combat cancer, Algeria is training medical personnel on issues related to radioactivity. It makes considerable efforts to promote cooperation among African States for research and development on nuclear energy. Nuclear safety is of “paramount importance” and States bear the primary responsibility for such, he said, noting that measures to promote safety and security must not hinder cooperation or restrict IAEA initiatives. The Agency’s verification system is essential to denuclearization and must be universal. He called on all States to support efforts to establish the Middle East as a nuclear‑weapons‑free region.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said it is impossible to discuss sustainability without considering nuclear energy as part of the global energy mix. Argentina’s nuclear sector enjoys a high international profile and emphasizes the global safeguards system. “The effectiveness of the verification system is fundamental for preventing nuclear proliferation,” he said. However, verification measures must not hinder States’ capacity to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Noting that IAEA represents a milestone in confidence‑building for the exclusively peaceful development of nuclear energy in the region, he expressed support for its work related to the physical security of nuclear facilities and underscored Argentina’s commitment to preparations for the conference on that matter scheduled for 2020. “These initiatives are part of the core role of the IAEA,” he said, adding that Argentina participates in regional capacity‑building and provides training in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) emphasized the inalienable right of States to research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as well as participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific data for peaceful purposes. He stressed the importance of IAEA’s statutory functions and primary responsibility to assist Governments in research on, and the practical application of, nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The Agency also is the sole competent authority for verifying the fulfilment of safeguards obligations. Iran will vigorously continue to exercise its inalienable right to develop a full national nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes. “All accusations against Iran’s nuclear programme were baseless from the beginning,” he stressed, calling them “a manufactured crisis to sustain pressure on Iran”.
He said such efforts came to an end with the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. However, the current United States administration has withdrawn from this agreement and reimposed its illegal sanctions against Iran. “All such illegal measures of the United States were rejected by the international community, including by almost all of its friends and allies,” he said. Urging the international community to remain vigilant, he warned against being deceived by United States fabrications which are rooted in hostility towards Iran and underscored Iran’s commitment to the accord as long as all other participants honour their obligations. The agreement outlines that any reimposition of sanctions while Iran remains compliant gives Iran the right to respond by wholly or partially ceasing from performing its duties. The remaining participants must hold the United States accountable for the consequences of the new sanctions and must provide guarantees that Iran is compensated unconditionally through appropriate measures.
SERGIO MANRIQUE TREJO BLANCO (El Salvador) welcomed the decisions adopted at IAEA’s latest session, noting that his country fully recognizes the sovereign right to exploit and use nuclear technology for peaceful uses. Member States are obliged to work towards disarmament in the pursuit of peace and security, he said, pointing to the benefits of nuclear technology in health, food, technology and research. “It is possible to achieve excellent results for the benefit of our people,” he added. El Salvador is collaborating with other countries, pooling efforts to ensure that nuclear energy is used to enhance health coverage and better address natural disasters. IAEA has provided invaluable support in enabling El Salvador to make significant progress in that regard, he said, pledging to deepen cooperation with the Agency.
BASSEM YEHIA HASSAN KASSEM HASSAN (Egypt) recalled that his country was a founding IAEA Member State and among the first to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He called for redoubled efforts to provide financing and technical resources to the Agency to ensure its continued work in promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy, itself an inalienable right. IAEA is the sole global entity mandated to verify the dismantling of nuclear weapons and programmes. Its verification and safeguard programmes must fully honour their obligations under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) supported IAEA efforts to achieve peace and sustainable development. “Achieving nuclear disarmament is the highest priority,” she said, citing the Agency’s applications of nuclear technology towards social development. In 2017, Cuba participated in 50 regional projects with the Agency and 49 technical meetings and welcomed several international experts. Continued support for the peaceful application of nuclear technologies in developing countries requires increased resources for the Agency’s technical assistance. Cuba supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy and calls for the immediate lifting of restrictions on the import of nuclear materials for peaceful purposes. She condemned the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which hinders efforts to establish a nuclear‑weapons‑free zone in the Middle East.
HASSANAIN HADI FADHIL FADHIL (Iraq) reaffirmed the primacy of IAEA’s technical cooperation, as Iraq benefits from such efforts. He called for the adequate resourcing of the Agency to pursue technical cooperation, especially in relation to the 2030 Agenda. Iraq is making progress in the fight against terrorism and has adopted measures related to combating nuclear terrorism. It is working with the Agency to dispose of nuclear material and is safely disposing of radioactive waste from dismantled nuclear sites. A Middle East free of nuclear weapons is essential for regional security and the international community must foster cooperation towards that end. He called for a conference to establish a nuclear‑weapons‑free zone in the region, noting that the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) adopted a text on the matter. “Israel must begin a process of denuclearization,” he said.
ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) expressed support for IAEA’s activities to promote the transfer and development of technologies related to peaceful nuclear applications. Kazakhstan has helped to finance IAEA and intends to deepen its technical cooperation with the Agency, he said, calling its safeguard system the most effective instrument for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. He expressed support for IAEA’s proposed project to establish a Low Enriched Uranium Bank, which will foster the development of peaceful uses for nuclear energy. He underscored IAEA’s important role in advancing the nuclear non‑proliferation regime.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said his country is building its first nuclear power plant with assistance from the Russian Federation. Efforts are underway to recruit personnel for the power plant and provide maintenance and safety training. The Agency’s guiding role is coordinating global efforts to strengthen nuclear safety, security and safeguards in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It must support Member States in sharing knowledge, expertise, technology and information on all aspects of nuclear safety, including through the development of effective national infrastructure. He urged IAEA to support efforts to develop nuclear science education and promote medical research. Bangladesh supports the Agency’s mandated work related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the application of safeguards in the Middle East.
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/73/L.19 without a vote.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said comments by the European Union delegate confirmed long‑standing doubts over whether to include the bloc as an observer at the United Nations. Calling that endorsement a “great mistake”, he said European Union Member States are responsible for two world wars which killed over 100 million people. As mere observers, the bloc’s representatives must learn and understand their limits, as such accusations against a Member State run counter to General Assembly procedure. The European Union delegate did not even address Israel, “the real danger” in the Middle East and a possessor of nuclear weapons; the reason why is clear: European countries provide Israel technology for its nuclear weapons and cooperate with that country to bolster its military capacity. The European Union displays hypocrisy in both its statement and its policy, he stressed.