NUCLEAR POWER ALTERNATIVE TO FOSSIL FUELS,
NEW YORK, 22 October (UN Headquarters) -- As global energy demand increased, along with a growing awareness of the need for sustainable development, nuclear power was the alternative to fossil fuels the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the General Assembly this afternoon as it took up the Agency’s annual report for the year 2000.
The environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels had come to light, Mohamed Elbaradei continued as he introduced the report. At present, nuclear power supplied about one-sixth of global electricity. In the foreseeable future, it could provide electricity on a large scale with practically no greenhouse gas emissions. Views on the future of nuclear power, however, were still mixed because of safety and non-proliferation concerns. Still, he pointed out, a major portion of the Agency’s work focused on other diverse applications for nuclear energy, including human health, water management, improving agricultural yields and protecting the environment.
India’s representative said there was no alternative to large-scale use of nuclear energy as a prerequisite for economic development if the global community were to bridge the energy divide. As nuclear power played an increasing role in meeting the world’s energy needs, remaining concerns about nuclear-power generation must be eliminated. The solutions were technological, not only to address economical generation of nuclear power but also in questions of safety, sustainability, proliferation resistance and long-term waste management.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, Belgium’s representative said the report indicated continued improvement in the area of nuclear safety as a result of the IAEA's initiatives. The Union would support the Technical Cooperation Programme with improved effectiveness for both recipients and donors. The Agency’s rigour in assessing and selecting only those projects that met a range of precise criteria was commendable.
Russia’s representative said that ensuring cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy was a key role for the IAEA. He called for the launch of an international project on innovative nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel cycles, aimed at developing coordinated criteria for selecting new-generation technologies of promise. He said that would promote sustainable development, nuclear non-proliferation and environmental security.
A number of speakers, notably the representatives of Japan and Australia, called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to live up to its international obligations with regard to nuclear power.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Pakistan, Slovakia, Cuba, Egypt, Peru, Republic of Korea, Brazil and Argentina (in a joint statement), Czech Republic, Mexico, United States, Belarus and Ukraine.
The representatives of Iraq and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 26 October, when it is expected to elect members of the Economic and Social Council.
The Assembly met this afternoon to take up the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The forty-fifth annual report of the IAEA for the calendar year 2000 (document A/56/313) is transmitted by a note of the Secretary-General affirming that the Agency’s Director-General would report to the Assembly on major developments since the reporting period.
The report itself recalls the goals set out as priorities in the Millennium Declaration and in which the Agency played a role. Those included peace, security and disarmament, development and the eradication of poverty, and protection of the environment. The Agency’s work rests on the three "pillars" of technology, safety and verification for the purpose of catalyzing development and transferring peaceful nuclear technologies, building and maintaining a global nuclear safety regime, and preventing weapons proliferation.
The report states there were 438 operating nuclear-power reactors worldwide at the end of 2000. Over 30 countries were using nuclear power to produce electricity and six new power reactors had come on line. While no new plants were built in North America or Western Europe, the economics of existing nuclear-power plants had improved. Initiatives on nuclear fuel cycle and radioactive waste management included a symposium on uranium mining activities (Vienna, October). It was decided that public acceptance and confidence in solutions were critical with waste management. Investigations also continued into new energy production technologies reducing actinide generation and focusing on long-lived waste transmutation.
Global climate change was another focus of technological activities for the agency in 2000, the report states. With the development and field testing of "Indicators for Sustainable Development", future prospects for energy technology depended increasingly on sustainability issues and not just economics or environmental impact. Some 25 projects were under development worldwide to devise innovative approaches for creating reactor types and fuel cycle designs that offered enhanced safety features and were proliferation resistant and economically competitive.
Maintaining knowledge and expertise in the field had become of concern, the report continues. Most countries with advanced nuclear programmes reported decreased interest in the nuclear field, possibly due to a perception that the field offered poor career prospects. The Agency’s remedial activities included coordinating cooperative training activities. It also focused on applying nuclear science in projects using radiation and isotope techniques to produce food, fight disease, manage water and protect the environment. Finally, the Agency focused on technology transfer and the critical need for freshwater management through isotope hydrology, to avert the severe shortage expected to affect two-thirds of the world population by the year 2025.
The report states that nuclear safety increased over the year in Central and Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union as the Agency continued to provide nuclear safety review services and assistance to them and others. The Agency had also strengthened safety-related activities in response to concerns, including safety implications of decisions by Germany, Lithuania and Ukraine to close nuclear-power plants earlier than expected. The ageing of research nuclear reactors was also of concern.
Beyond those two areas, the Agency reports on its activities regarding nuclear safety standards. That involves safety issues specific to other fuel cycle facilities, assistance to upgrade national radiation and waste safety infrastructures, and environmental assessments of radioactive residual materials, including a report to the General Assembly on radiological consequences of the Chernobyl accident. The Agency maintained international focus on safe management and transport of radioactive wastes and requested the Secretariat to develop internationally agreed radiological criteria for long-lived radionuclides in commodities, particularly foodstuffs and foods.
The year’s seminal event in non-proliferation and disarmament was the May Review Conference of the 187 States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The final document reviewed the implementation and operation of the NPT from 1995 to 2000, outlining a framework for the next five years. To overcome a perceived stalemate in international arms control, States established objectives to stimulate implementation of the NPT, including practical steps for non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, safeguards and export controls, peaceful nuclear cooperation, adherence and review. The Conference agreed to increase the transparency of nuclear-weapon States and to diminish the call for nuclear weapons in security policies.
On related fronts, the report states the Agency had 224 safeguards agreements with 140 States as of 31 December 2000, affecting over 900 facilities. The Review Conference received the Agency’s verification activities favourably, but the Secretariat developed a new action plan focused on cooperation between Member States to counteract the disappointing progress in adherence to safeguards agreements and protocols. States such as Peru, Japan, Kazakhstan and New Zealand developed activities with the Agency but there was little progress in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Other verification highlights were the integration of traditional measures with strengthening measures, remote monitoring and the signing by the United States and Russia of a bilateral "Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement" committing each party to withdrawing 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium from weapons programmes. Work also continued on physical protection of nuclear material, including the combat of illicit trafficking through a programme of information exchange, assistance to regulatory bodies and training.
Outreach and Management Activities
During 2000, the Agency continued to engage both traditional and non-traditional partners. A January forum with representatives from the nuclear industry had reached broad consensus on the need to intensify efforts related to safety, innovation and public confidence. Public awareness activities were undertaken as senior management reached out to a wider audience in civil society, including the arms control, academic and think-tank communities. In the area of management, the main development was the convening of the Agency’s fourth Senior Management Conference in January. It formalized the practical details of introducing a results-based approach to programming and budgeting. It also strengthened and extended the Secretariat’s review of administrative practices.
The report concludes that in its role of helping to achieve the global objectives of freedom from fear and want, the Agency had reinforced several of its mission principles during 2000. It had assisted developing countries to improve scientific, technological and regulatory capabilities. It had promoted a global safety culture and through its safeguards, had helped extend the non-proliferation regime and the environment conducive to nuclear disarmament and cooperation.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the main functions of the Agency were to bring about the development and transfer of peaceful nuclear technologies; to build and maintain a global nuclear safety regime; and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ensure the security of nuclear material and facilities. The Agency had been at the forefront in efforts to protect against nuclear terrorism. It had encouraged States to make security an integral part of the management of their overall nuclear programmes.
In addition, he said it was involved in programmes to ensure physical security, to help and respond to illicit trafficking of nuclear material and other radioactive sources; to promote the safety of nuclear facilities; to safeguard nuclear material against non-peaceful uses; and to respond to emergencies. In those areas, the Agency developed legal norms and guidelines, promoted international cooperation, provided expert advice, training and equipment and provided varying degrees of oversight.
Concerning nuclear technology, he covered issues including nuclear power and non–power nuclear applications. He said that the rapid expansion in global energy demand –- and the growing awareness of the need for sustainable development -- had put increasing focus on the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels. Nuclear power, which currently supplied about one-sixth of global electricity, was the principal alternative that could in the foreseeable future provide electricity on a large scale with practically no greenhouse gas emissions. Views on the future of nuclear power, however, were still mixed because of safety and non-proliferation concerns. For example, the United States’ new energy policy gave an explicit endorsement to nuclear expansion, whereas Germany had concluded an agreement with the industry to phase out nuclear power. He also emphasized that a major portion of the Agency’s work was focused on applications other than electricity generation, such as in the area of human health, water management, the improvement of agricultural yields and in environmental protection.
On nuclear safety, he said that while safety was primarily a national responsibility, it was equally a legitimate international concern. Nuclear safety, like environmental practices, had implications that transcended national boundaries. In that context, he mentioned the establishment of international safety standards, safety in the management and disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste, the Common Forum on Chernobyl, the assessment of the effects of depleted uranium and other challenges in nuclear safety.
He stressed that the Agency’s verification activities were designed to provide assurance that nuclear material and facilities were used exclusively for peaceful purposes. The Agency had been given broader authority by the international community to strengthen its verification ability as a result of the discovery of clandestine nuclear-weapons programmes in Iraq. For nearly three years, the Agency had not been in a position to implement its mandate in Iraq under United Nations Security Council resolution 687. As a result, it could not provide any assurance that Iraq was in compliance with its obligations.
Since 1993, he said, the Agency had also been unable to fully implement its NPT safeguards agreement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He called upon that country to normalize its relations with the Agency, including of its membership. That would not only make for better interaction in the verification field, but would also enable the Agency to provide important safety advice and expertise related to the ongoing light-water reactor project. He also referred to the application of Agency safeguards in the Middle East, progress on trilateral and nuclear disarmament efforts, and general challenges in nuclear verification.
B. S. PRAKASH (India) said that many industrialized countries with nuclear-power capabilities were witnessing electricity demand saturation, while many developing countries were unable to access nuclear power. In sharp contrast to that global scenario, the situation in some Asian countries, especially India, was vastly different. In those countries, there was a growing energy demand matched by significant industrialization already in place. Those Asian nations had acquired the necessary capability to pursue nuclear-power technology to meet their energy needs. If the global community wished to bridge the energy divide to its maximum extent, there was no alternative to large-scale utilization of nuclear energy as a prerequisite for economic development.
As nuclear power played an increasingly important role in meeting the world’s energy needs, it was imperative to eliminate the remaining concerns about nuclear-power generation, he continued. Technological solutions were needed, not only to address economical generation of nuclear power but also the question of safety, sustainability, proliferation resistance and long-term waste management. There were currently several technological solutions which would simultaneously address all those issues. The IAEA’s plan to launch the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles was worthy of strong support. Such programmes would contribute to greater nuclear-power generation and enhance safety worldwide with no fear of proliferation. He strongly recommended better budgetary support to such programmes, which simultaneously addressed the long-term objectives of IAEA programmes in nuclear energy, nuclear safety and safeguards.
India was alert to the dangers of illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and other radioactive sources, especially since the terrorist strikes of 11 September, he said. Events since then had underlined the need for the international community to pool its efforts to counter the menace of global terrorism. He appreciated the efforts made by the IAEA for the past several years in cooperating with other States to prevent and combat illicit nuclear trafficking. His country had an elaborate domestic system adhering to the standards of physical protection recommended by the Agency, and had put in place a stringent system of export controls to rule out the illicit diversion of material, equipment or technology in the nuclear field.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that the world population had surpassed the six billion mark, yet one-third of that number, two billion people, lacked access to electricity. Energy demand could not be met by fossil fuels alone since that would impose an unacceptable burden on the environment. The massive development of hydro-power was one option. The only other proven and sustainable option was the use of nuclear energy. Opposition to nuclear power, despite its good safety record and environment-friendly character, was based on misunderstandings or else was a deliberate pretext to deny the technology to developing countries. Pakistan was keen to make increasingly large use of nuclear power to meet its future electricity requirements. In order to diversify the country’s power generation system and reduce its dependence on energy imports, increasing utilization of nuclear power was a desirable option for Pakistan.
A high-profile "safety culture" was an indispensable component of any successful nuclear-power programme. He added that the IAEA was playing an important role in safety-related issues. To ensure requisite safety controls, his Government had, earlier this year, set up the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, which had been given the responsibility for controlling, regulating and supervising all matters related to nuclear safety and radiation protection. It was important that safety-related technical cooperation be strengthened amongst all IAEA member countries. He hoped that the IAEA would play a more proactive role in convincing the advanced countries of the need for liberal transfer of safety-related technology and equipment to developing countries.
Pakistan had always emphasized the need and importance of the IAEA’s safeguards, he said. By enacting legislation for effective nuclear export controls last year and acceding to the International Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, Pakistan had clearly demonstrated its resolve to carry out its obligations and responsibility in that regard. He stressed that Pakistan’s track record in adhering to IAEA safeguards had been immaculate. He concluded by saying that while the Agency’s positive role in promoting technical cooperation was acknowledged, it was important for IAEA’s credibility to promote peaceful uses of the atom and maintain focus on its technical promotional character. He expected the Agency to follow a balanced and non-discriminatory approach in providing access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, particularly to developing States.
STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said he was well aware of the difficult financial context in which the Agency needed to carry out its important tasks. If was of concern that many States were failing to pay their contributions to the regular budget. The Agency’s initiatives to adapt by maximizing effectiveness were bound to bear fruit. The European Union considered it a priority for the Agency to limit the number of projects it undertook, on the "less but better" principle. Also important was to achieve the flexibility to transfer resources between sectoral programmes when needed, and to focus on activities with the greatest potential impact. All the Agency’s tasks were important and useful, but particular attention should be given to the guarantee programme, which gave absolute assurance that nuclear activities and cooperation could not be diverted from exclusively peaceful applications.
In that context, he continued, another concern was the growing imbalance between expenditures on statutory activities related to the non-proliferation guarantee, and the resources Members were willing to allocate for that purpose as part of the regular budget. States should remember that the NPT conferred responsibilities regarding compliance, which in turn necessitated essential activities the Agency was obliged to meet with resources in the interests of the international community. The Agency’s work in implementing safeguard agreements was welcome, as reflected in the report. Also, the work on integrating safeguards should lead to reducing inspection efforts in countries that had met the criteria.
Noting the Agency’s initiatives on safety, he said the report revealed a continued general improvement in that area. The Agency’s activities toward development of peaceful uses for nuclear energy were particularly welcome. The Union would continue to support the Technical Cooperation Programme. The Agency had improved effectiveness for both recipients and donors, particularly with its rigorous selection of only those projects that met a range of precise criteria. The resolution Australia was expected to present would be welcome.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said his country -– the only one to have suffered a nuclear attack and one that had long been committed to the peaceful use of nuclear energy -- was determined to use its wealth of experience for the greater benefit of humankind. It attached the highest priority to safety and security in utilizing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Japan had actively promoted the peaceful use of nuclear energy as a stable energy source in the course of its economic development, because it was heavily dependent on imported oil and because nuclear energy had enormous merit from the perspective of global environmental considerations. It would make its use of plutonium transparent.
In the light of the present international situation, enhancement of the nuclear non-proliferation regime was one of the most important issues, with strengthening the NPT regime the most realistic option. In June, Japan had organized the International Symposium for Further Reinforcement of IAEA Safeguards in the Asia-Pacific Region, which had deepened the understanding among participants on the issue of universalization of the Additional Protocol. He hoped the IAEA would organize similar events for other regions. He urged the IAEA secretariat to accelerate its work on substantiating the concept of Integrated Safeguards. He supported programmes and activities of the IAEA which were conducive to preventing acts of terrorism.
From the perspective of maintaining peace and security in Northeast Asia, the role of the IAEA in the context of suspected nuclear-weapons development by North Korea was a serious one. Japan would continue to actively support the efforts made by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to implement the Light-Water Reactor Project smoothly. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to improve its relations with the IAEA and to comply, promptly and completely, with its obligations under the safeguard agreement.
PETER TOMKA (Slovakia) regretted the continuing failure to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty into force and to resume negotiations on a ban on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. Both elements, if in place, would represent a large qualitative step in strengthening the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. He appreciated the IAEA’s readiness to provide its expertise for the negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).
It was clear, he said, that measures for strengthening safeguard systems must be supported by effective physical protection of nuclear material. Though illegal trafficking had so far involved only small quantities of nuclear material, the battle against it represented a growing challenge that called for further decisive measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents. It was no wonder that at this session of the General Assembly, greater focus was put on the chapters of the Agency’s report that covered this issue. The recent tragic events openly suggested the scale of consequences one might face in the future if the issue was not adequately addressed.
Slovakia ranked among the countries that operated peaceful nuclear facilities. They provided for nearly 50 per cent of the yearly electricity generation, he said. Safe operation continued to be one of Slovakia’s utmost priorities. Therefore, Slovakia had promoted and enjoyed fruitful cooperation with the Agency since joining it in the early 1990s. At present, Slovakia was cooperating with the Agency in dozens of national, regional, and inter-regional technical projects. Besides nuclear safety and technology, there were other important areas in which cooperation between Slovakia and the Agency took place, including international expert workshops.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said the work of the IAEA in the areas of technical assistance and cooperation, safeguards and nuclear security was positive, apart from a few questions. Nuclear energy offered a safe and economically viable alternative to meet the pressing energy needs of States. However, that had not prevented certain developed countries from cutting back contributions towards funding of technical assistance programmes or placing selective conditions on their use. Organizational systems should be improved, but financial resources destined for those programmes should also be reliable. The decline in real terms of financing for cooperation resources was not in accord with the growing needs of developing countries.
Since the 1980s, he said, the nuclear programme in Cuba had included two components: application of nuclear technologies and nuclear energy. Plans to build the Juragua nuclear reactor had been scrapped recently because other options had emerged. Seventy per cent of Cuba’s energy was produced by domestically produced fuels. His country recognized the important role of nuclear energy in development and would therefore continue to develop its nuclear programme. It had achieved excellent results in the area of health, agriculture, industry and other areas. Cuba also helped other countries by sending experts and certain Cuban products.
Regarding safeguards, the question of the NPT became an inevitable issue. His country’s position was that the Treaty resulted in discriminatory discrepancies, allowing a select number of countries to possess nuclear weapons. Some countries were not even compelled to submit their installations and nuclear arsenals to the IAEA. That was why Cuba had not signed the Treaty. As part of the rigid blockade against Cuba, its programme for the peaceful use of nuclear energy had been a target of measures to prevent its advance. The Helms-Burton Act stated that the operation of any nuclear facility in Cuba, even for peaceful means, would be considered an act of aggression. His country would continue to develop its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes in a transparent way, he said.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said his country’s policy was to secure strategic stability by preserving and strengthening the international legal framework in the area of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Having ratified key disarmament agreements, it had confirmed its commitment to obligations in deed and in word. At the Assembly’s present session, it would join Belarus and China in introducing a resolution on preserving and complying with the Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the backbone of strategic stability. The resolution called for mobilizing the international community to prevent undermining of existing arms control and disarmament measures.
In his country, he said, an important element of nuclear disarmament was disposing of excess weapon material and reducing the nuclear-weapon complex. On the broader scale, it was time to go beyond unilateral and bilateral agreements to consider strategic issues in the framework of multilateral mechanisms responsible for international agreements, including the "P-5 States", the Permanent Members of the Security Council. Implementing the Final Document of the 2000 NPT was important for the international security system, and the Agency’s report indicated that all major programmes last year had been implemented according to plan. The Agency’s work in the area of safeguards was of particular note and intimately tied to enforcing the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Always looking to support the strengthening of the IAEA safeguards system, including by the development of comprehensive safeguards, Russia had a national programme for scientific and technical support of IAEA guarantees.
As a universal agency, he said a key role for the IAEA was to ensure the cooperation of States in the peaceful use of atomic energy. An international project on innovative nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel cycles should be launched, aimed at developing coordinated criteria for selecting new-generation technologies that held promise. Russian President Putin had suggested that last year at the Millennium Summit, as a practical plan conducive to sustainable development, nuclear non-proliferation and environmental security. Russia’s own strategy for developing nuclear energy predicted it would outpace other types of power generation three times over before the year 2050. It included a legislation package authorizing the import of radioactive nuclear fuel for technological storage and processing. It also provided for broad capabilities in reprocessing the spent fuel and guaranteeing the return of spent fuel, all conducive to promoting international cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy.
In conclusion, he said the IAEA should maintain the right proportions and balance among its functional programmes. Hopefully, the Assembly would adopt a substantive draft resolution on the report, to tangibly confirm the Agency’s role in its nuclear-nonproliferation tasks and its assistance in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) said he had read the report of the IAEA and learned of its clear achievements over the past year. He reaffirmed the importance of the Agency’s comprehensive safeguards system for the peaceful use of nuclear power. A safeguard system was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and of utmost importance. In view of the international momentum towards non-proliferation, he was amazed that certain States did not seem to feel the need to encourage the universality of the safeguards system. That was a concern to the international community, he said. The non-compliant States used conditions and called for additional measures by countries already committed to those safeguards. In that context, the resolution of the General Conference of the Agency was a step in the right direction in enhancing the safeguards system.
He stressed that Israel remained intransigent when it came to compliance with the non-proliferation regime. He reminded the Assembly that the vast majority of countries had acceded to the NPT and the comprehensive Agency safeguards system, and had called for the Middle East to be a nuclear-weapon-free zone. However, Israel had not complied. Since 1974 Egypt had been striving to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. That had culminated in an initiative by President Mubarak to make the Middle East an area free from all weapons of mass destruction. The call for Israel to comply was not merely an Egyptian call, nor an Arab call, but a call by the international community which recognized the importance of Israelis accession to the NPT.
He concluded by welcoming the increase of technical cooperation programmes with developing countries. However, that technical cooperation needed to be supported by practical steps, such as the provision of adequate funding.
MARCO BALAREZO (Peru) said that the terrorist attack against New York emphasized the urgency of establishing an effective system for the protection both of fissile material and nuclear facilities and reinforcing the non-proliferation and disarmament regimes. His country acknowledged the need for an expansion of the evaluation and information skills of the IAEA, which was why it had signed the additional protocol for safeguard measures. When the protocol had entered into force last July, Peru had become the first Latin American country with a full commitment towards the political objectives of the Agency. In December of this year it would host a Regional Seminar of the IAEA for the purpose of promoting the signing of Safeguard Agreements and their Additional Protocols among the member countries of the Tlateloco Treaty.
His country emphasized the importance of the debate that took place at the last General Conference on Radiological Protection and the Safe Management of Radioactive Waste, he said, which had led to the approval by consensus of an unpublished resolution on that important aspect. The resolution sought to establish a constructive dialogue between the transporting States and those that were potentially affected by this activity, through an early notice of such shipment. It had also acknowledged the concepts of protection for island and coastal States against economic losses that could be produced by an accident involving radioactive material.
His country also wished to emphasize the support it had been receiving from the IAEA in the field of technical cooperation for peaceful purposes, and specifically in the development programme for the Peru-Ecuador border region. Based on the fruitful experience, his country had been studying the possibility of expanding its request for cooperation to support the projects.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said that as Australia would chair the Board of Governors in 2001-2002, it would submit a draft resolution on the IAEA report in the next few days, once the consultations in Vienna had concluded. The events of 11 September had vividly demonstrated the imperative of redoubling efforts to respond to global security threats, such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He attached particular importance to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and called upon all States to adhere to it. He considered the IAEA a central pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the cornerstone of which was the NPT. NPT safeguards applied by the Agency remained essential to advancing trade and cooperation in support of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
His country was pleased to be the first State in which integrated safeguards were being applied. He hoped the experience would demonstrate that integrated safeguards were not burdensome, but rather delivered benefits in terms of increased efficiency and effectiveness. The ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament would not be achieved without effective measures that ensured nuclear non-proliferation. The 2000 Review Conference had identified the negotiation of a FMCT as one of the most urgent disarmament and non-proliferation steps the international community could take, he said.
There was a continuing need to remain vigilant in looking for clandestine nuclear weapons programmes and in maintaining pressure on non-compliant States, he said. Two States continued to test the non-proliferation regime: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iraq. It was essential to the successful completion of the light-water reactor project for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cooperate fully with the IAEA and come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement. In Iraq, the IAEA had been unable to conduct its verification and monitoring activities under the relevant Security Council resolutions. Iraq must cooperate fully with the Agency and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to enable the Agency to fulfill the mandate entrusted to it by the Council, he said.
Maintaining peace and security also had socio-economic dimensions, he said. He placed great importance on the unique role of the Agency in ensuring the safe utilization of nuclear energy, and in the application of nuclear technologies in developing countries. A particular focus for Australia was promoting improvements in the international safety regime for research reactors. His country also continued to promote constructive dialogue between shipping and coastal States on the safe transport of radioactive material.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that the Republic of Korea remained at the forefront in developing advanced nuclear-power technology. His country was developing a next-generation reactor of 1400 MWe (APR-1400), as well as SMART, a system integrated modular small reactor used for both desalination and power generation. Concerning safety and security of radioactive materials, his country had implemented the Radiation Safety Information System (RASIS) which could track and monitor radio-isotopes from production to disposal via the Internet. He believed that further discussions were needed at the international level to continuously improve the safety and security of radioactive materials.
Concerning safeguards, he stressed that non-proliferation must be the foremost prerequisite for the use and development of nuclear energy. For that reason, his country had made an active contribution to all aspects of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. To enhance nuclear transparency, the Republic of Korea had for the past four years put into effect its own State System of Accounting and Control (SSAC), in addition to the inspections conducted by the IAEA. Those efforts had enabled his country to meet over 95 per cent of the inspection goal requirement. Under this programme, Korea was helping the IAEA foster the experimental New Partnership Approach (NPA), which he hoped would be developed into a new model for IAEA inspections in the future.
Since 1993, he said, the General Conference of the IAEA had adopted resolutions urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Last November, the Agency had conveyed to that country a detailed programme of the entire verification process. In May 2001, the Agency had presented two concrete steps that could be taken with respect to the Isotope Production Laboratory and the verification of plutonium in spent fuel rods stored in canisters at the 5Mwe reactor facility. Thanks to the effort of the KEDO secretariat and its partners, the construction work for the light-water reactor project was moving forward. Last September, KEDO began the excavation of the power block, with the permission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. With the completion site arrangement and building infrastructure, KEDO was poised to proceed with this important milestone in the construction of the reactor. He called upon the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to provide the IAEA with full cooperation in a prompt manner.
GELSON FONSECA, JR. (Brazil), also speaking on behalf of Argentina, said he was making a joint statement to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Brazilian-Argentinian Agency for the Accountability and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC), and announce the creation of the Argentinian-Brazilian Agency for the Application of Nuclear Energy (ABAEN). Both of those events marked the permanent resolve of Argentina and Brazil to strengthen their bonds of friendship and integrate their two societies more closely. The two joint agencies symbolized trust in the peaceful application of nuclear energy.
ABACC was created as a bilateral accounting and control system, which complemented the nuclear safeguards of the IAEA. ABACC’s mandate was concrete and permanent in nature, and it was natural that the two countries’ next steps would encompass joint endeavours in the peaceful applications of nuclear energy. They had signed a joint declaration in creating ABAEN, which would begin a new chapter for Argentina and Brazil in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
The two countries would cooperate in such areas as the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear waste and nuclear energy reactors. Cooperation would promote the right conditions for the design and execution of joint projects and supplement the Argentinian-Brazilian Standing Committee on Nuclear Policy. The two countries would also enter into a dialogue on coordinating business initiatives in the near future, which would be attended by Government entities and the leading corporations of each country. The first task would be to outline scenarios for Government planning and the programme of action for the first year.
HYNEK KMONÍC (Czech Republic) said he could not overemphasize the importance of the IAEA’s responsibilities concerning the NPT, which needed continuous support from all Member States in terms of policies, know-how, financing and implementation of legal instruments. He also commended the Agency for assisting Member States in implementing the Nuclear Safety Convention, the Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Safety Management -– the Joint Convention.
At the end of last year, the Czech Government had approved an updated national energy policy, he said. The nuclear option was maintained as well as an increased effort to use energy and renewable energy sources efficiently. A new legal framework for using nuclear energy and ionizing radiation was built on the priorities of quality control and transparency in the nuclear industry, as well as diversity of expertise on safety and radiological protection. The NPP Temelín power plant had undergone thorough licensing procedures and, taking into account its technological complexity, nothing irregular had occurred during the commissioning tests.
Several lessons had been learned during the NPP Temelín debate, he said. Peer reviews, as provided by the IAEA, should be better explained to Member States, as should the philosophy of IAEA safety standards and measures to increase the safety of nuclear installations. The failure of Member States to take due account of IAEA findings, especially with regard to nuclear installations, undermined the competence and authority of the Agency. Having various other organizations perform nuclear installation safety reviews could put the central role of the IAEA in doubt. The Agency’s role must not be allowed to erode.
ROBERTA LAJOUS (Mexico) said the international community had condemned the appalling terrorist attacks of 11 September. Mexico had expressed its political resolve to act in concert, in cooperation with the international community, against those kinds of threats to international peace and security. She added that Security Council resolutions 1368 (2001) and 1373 (2001) were an appropriate point of reference for coordinated action against terrorism. In that context, she said that the Agency played a vital role in preventing terrorist groups from obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction. All nuclear-power plants therefore needed to be subject to the Agency’s safeguards system. She stressed that the verification of nuclear materials and equipment must be a priority in the work of the Agency. Activities in that field were very important, she said, and she urged nuclear-weapons States to go ahead with the total elimination of their arsenal.
Her Government supported the increased attention paid to technical cooperation and the practical steps highlighted by the Agency. She stressed the importance of technical cooperation with developing countries, and pointed out that Mexico and Guatemala had been cooperating in that area. However, for technical cooperation to be successful and effective, it was necessary to mobilize more financial resources.
Concerning international cooperation on nuclear safety, she expressed concerns as to the transport of radioactive waste. Priorities needed to be discussed and determined in the area of transport of radioactive waste. She was particularly concerned about the risks in maritime transportation of radioactive waste, and recalled that Mexican legislation had been updated and reviewed in that area. She encouraged States that dispatched waste material to hold consultations with coastal States before sending out radioactive waste. That could help in preventing natural disasters, she said.
MICHAEL D. ROSENTHAL (United States) said his country was grateful for the unequivocal condemnation of the 11 September attacks by the United Nations and for the condolences offered by the IAEA. The attacks had made the international community increasingly mindful that the NPT and the IAEA were crucial to efforts to counter any form of nuclear terrorism. The success of the NPT regime had limited terrorist targets of opportunity, and the United States called on all States to bring into force additional protocols as well as safeguards agreements. However, the resources to do that work were increasingly strained, due to serious constraint on the Agency’s regular budget. Without relief soon, the Agency might fail in its critical function of verifying the location and use of nuclear material and supporting nuclear safety worldwide.
Theft of nuclear material and sabotage of nuclear facilities had long been a matter of concern. If the Agency were unable to track the location and use of nuclear material worldwide, or to give support to national nuclear safety measures, the consequences to the global community could be grave. The physical protection of nuclear material and facilities was essential to preventing sabotage, and provided a first line of defence by ensuring that nuclear material was not diverted to unauthorized uses. His country welcomed the Director-General's decision to convene an open-ended meeting to draft an
The United States, he said, commended the Agency for its success in supporting the safeguards system and in applying safeguards, and reaffirmed the necessity of maintaining that effectiveness while strengthening the Agency's ability to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities. Preserving and strengthening the international safeguards system was the highest priority for the United States in supporting the IAEA. His country was also pleased to note the impressive efforts of the Agency to intensify its work dealing with radiation sources.
The IAEA'a ability to sustain those programmes depended on continued support from its members, he said. The United States would continue to provide the agency with significant financial assistance. However in the light of 11 September, the United States was undertaking a careful review, both of the Agency's programmes and needs and how best to meet those needs. It was hoped that the review would be completed soon, and his country would look to other Member States to be its partners in efforts to ensure that the Agency had the resources it needed.
SERGEI LING (Belarus) said that as a full-fledged member of the IAEA, his country had consistently supported the role that the Agency continued to play in effective maintenance and consolidation of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as the establishment of a reliable system of safeguards for existing atomic power plants and nuclear technologies all over the world.
Overcoming the consequences of the disaster at Chernobyl played a special role in the cooperation of Belarus with the IAEA, he said. Belarus took note with great appreciation of the fact that 15 years after the accident, the Agency continued to pay a great deal of attention to the problem. Practical evidence of that was a number of important projects in the areas of studying, mitigating and minimizing the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, implemented in the Republic of Belarus with the assistance of the IAEA.
In that context, Belarus noted with a great deal of interest the idea put forward by the IAEA Director-General at the recent 45th session of the IAEA General Conference, regarding a single international consultative mechanism for the collection and analysis of data on the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. The aforementioned idea deserved further comprehensive and detailed international consideration.
VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) was concerned that 50 States, parties to the NPT, remained without a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Having shut down the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in December last year, Ukraine had considerably contributed to the strengthening of the global nuclear safety regime. He welcomed an initiative to establish a common forum on the consequences of Chernobyl and believed the Agency had a central role to play in such a body.
He said many Member States considered nuclear power as the primary or major alternative source for their energy supply, and a way of achieving sustainable development. It was regrettable that underfinancing of the Agency undermined an adequate response to the challenges faced. The use of nuclear technologies in the future would largely depend on how the Agency supported Member States with objective and comprehensive information as to options available. There was a potential for the Agency to assist in meeting global energy needs, with due account for adequate safety requirements for economical and proliferation-resistant use of nuclear power.
The international community should take full account of the immediate danger arising from a non-State group acquiring and using a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon. His country had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Agency’s General Conference resolution on measures to improve the security of nuclear materials and other radioactive materials. He hoped the Agency would embark on a thorough review of the relevant programmes to identify further measures for enhancing the security of nuclear materials and facilities. An important step forward would be the introduction of a global database on acts, threatened acts, or suspected acts of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction. He was pleased to note that the Department for Disarmament Affairs was collaborating with the IAEA and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in developing approaches to that end.
Right of reply
ABDUL MUNIM AL-KADHE (Iraq), exercising his right of reply, said that the Australian delegate had referred to Iraq on the subject of nuclear disarmament measures and related Security Council resolutions, and he would like to clarify several points. First, he wished to draw attention to the IAEA reports from 18 October 1997 and 7 October 1998, which noted that there was no evidence that Iraq had any capability to produce nuclear material in a manner that could be used for armaments. In February 1994, the Agency had completed its work in removing from Iraq all nuclear materials.
He then referred to a statement made by the Chairman of the inspection teams in charge of removing all weapons of mass destruction from Iraq. By the end of 1998, Iraq was disarmed to an extent unprecedented in modern history, yet United Nations Special Commission and the Security Council were unable or sometimes unwilling to make a statement to that effect. Generally, the Special Committee had adopted an approach of raising obstacles and crises over matters that had nothing to do with disarmament. That attitude had begun to appear in the autumn of 1998, with the aim of perpetuating an embargo against Iraq, despite Iraq’s many efforts and its qualitative fulfilment of its obligations.
Finally, he would like disarmament in his country to be considered independently of the political preferences of certain countries, particularly since Iraq had spared no effort to lead the Security Council to adopt a position in accordance with its obligations towards Iraq. He pointed out that the Chairman of the IAEA had stated that a team from the Agency had visited Iraq for the second year running to verify the existence of any nuclear material. Iraq had complied with the Nuclear NPT and with the Agency, in accordance with the safeguards agreement. Therefore, Australia’s statement lacked objectivity, he said.
AN MYONG HUN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), also exercising his right of reply, spoke in response to statements by some delegations regarding safeguards agreements. The so-called nuclear issues, he said, were intended to stifle his country and were in essence the product of the hostile policies of the United States towards his country. The issue of the safeguards agreements would be resolved when the 1994 agreement between his country and the United States was implemented and the hostile relations between the United States and his country were eased. The light-water reactor project, to be completed in 2003, had come to a standstill. If Japan and South Korea would approach the issue fairly, they would urge the United States to implement the agreement between the United States and his country in good faith.
* *** *