Delegates called for innovative ways to foster cooperation in overcoming growing divergence in the non-proliferation arena, as the General Assembly took up the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency alongside a related draft resolution.
During the morning-long debate, speakers commended the Agency’s broad efforts ‑ from providing much-needed assistance to manage the COVID‑19 pandemic to enhancing efforts to move towards peaceful uses of nuclear energy and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), introducing the Agency’s annual report for 2020, said its activities went on throughout the pandemic to curb the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful activities and help countries detect and diagnosis the COVID‑19 virus. The IAEA Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action project, known as ZODIAC, builds on this work and has created a network of countries and laboratories from all continents, including partners from the United Nations system, to prepare for future outbreaks. Member States will have access to nuclear and other related technology packages, expertise, guidance and training.
Many delegates shared the benefits of working with the Agency, including its ZODIAC project. Launched in 2020 to help the world prepare for future pandemics, the initiative is already reaching 140 States. Speakers agreed that such IAEA efforts are giving developing countries the assistance they need to build resilience and address national challenges, from health care to infrastructure and safety. Delegates stressed that, as the world’s focal point to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the Agency can help countries meet the needs and challenges of the twenty-first century by ensuring equitable access to nuclear materials, technology and equipment for peaceful purposes.
India’s representative noted the Agency’s critical role in helping Member States meet their energy needs in a sustainable way using nuclear energy. India, for example, has augmented its nuclear power capacity with its first indigenous, 700-megawatt pressurized heavy water reactor. It is using nuclear applications in cancer treatments and is part of IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network, sharing its knowledge and expertise in radiation technologies with partner States.
Several delegates raised continued concerns, with some urging Iran, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with commitments and cooperate with IAEA.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, highlighted the bloc’s support for the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone. Diplomatic solutions are needed to address continued proliferation crises that threaten international and regional peace and security. She urged Iran, for example, to reverse all activities inconsistent with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, return to its full implementation, and cooperate with IAEA to resolve pending safeguards issues. She also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to begin a credible path towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. Until this happens, the European Union will strictly enforce existing sanctions and urge all countries to do the same.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the IAEA report is prejudiced and inappropriate as his country is not a member State of the Agency and IAEA has neither the justification nor qualification to claim any “verification” of or “supervision” over the country. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has nothing to do with the Treaty and IAEA and sees no reason to implement the Safeguards Agreement.
Iran’s delegate emphasized that safeguards-related verification activities should support the Agency’s principal role of promoting nuclear science and technology applications. Actions by the United States, including its unlawful withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018 and the reimposition of illegal sanctions against Iran, have effectively prevented his country from exercising its legitimate rights as enshrined in the Plan and resolution 2231 (2015), he said.
The speaker for Pakistan said greater cooperation is required among IAEA member States to advance the Agency’s mandate as recent developments have shown the old consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation has broken down. He proposed the convening of a special Assembly session to build a new consensus that responds to current and emerging realities and offers equal security to all States, large and small. This new consensus should eliminate the discrimination and double standards that characterize the present non-proliferation arrangements, and lead to an agreed-upon basis for promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy under appropriate international safeguards.
The speakers for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, drawing attention to the classification of IAEA members into regional groups, noted that they are among 20 member States that are not part of a regional group, which deprives them of the right to participate in significant processes, thus limiting their cooperation with the Agency. IAEA should make it a priority to resolve this inequity.
Also delivering statements were representatives of Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Singapore, Egypt, Belarus, Mexico, Algeria, Monaco, South Africa, Syria, Ukraine, Malaysia, Japan, Cuba, Lithuania, Nigeria, Philippines, Iraq, Indonesia, Guatemala and Bangladesh.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 22 November, to take up its agenda item on crime prevention and criminal justice and to take action on a draft resolution on the 2021 Political Declaration on the Implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Introduction of Report by International Atomic Energy Agency
RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), introducing the Agency’s annual report for 2020, transmitted by a Secretary-General note (document A/76/232), said the pandemic is not over for the Agency, and while IAEA returned to its offices and laboratories in early July, many activities are moving from online-only to hybrid formats, as are its conferences. The Agency’s safeguards work continued through the pandemic to carry out in-field inspections across the world to prevent the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful activities. Its largest-ever emergency operation has supplied 129 countries with urgently needed consignments of equipment, and related training, to detect and diagnosis the COVID‑19 virus. The IAEA Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action project, known as ZODIAC, builds on this work and has created a network of countries and laboratories from all continents including partners from the United Nations system to prepare for future outbreaks. Member States will have access to nuclear and related technology packages, expertise, guidance and training.
Turning to the challenge of climate change, he said he had just returned from the Twenty-sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP26. Nuclear power plants emit no carbon, and nuclear power is a proven, scalable way to decarbonize energy systems. “It is and will be an important solution to the climate crisis we face,” he said, a fact resonating with increasing numbers of people in the climate change community and beyond. The 442 nuclear power reactors operating in 32 countries today provide approximately 394 gigawatts of installed capacity, supplying more than 10 per cent of the world’s electricity and more than a quarter of all low-carbon electricity.
Without nuclear power, global carbon dioxide emissions would be considerably higher, he said. Some 19 countries are constructing 51 new reactors, which are expected to provide 54 gigawatts of additional capacity. The latest IAEA projections show global nuclear electrical capacity doubling by 2050 if countries decide to use the full benefits of nuclear power to counter climate change. Solar and wind are not sufficient, as evident from the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, international energy economists, the Agency’s own experts and many of the young climate activists at COP26.
The pandemic did not inhibit the Agency’s ability to carry out its critical in-field verification work, which has grown substantially in the past years. The number of countries with safeguards agreements in force totals 186, of which 138 have brought additional protocols into force. More than 1,300 facilities and other locations are now under IAEA safeguards. Mr. Grossi said he reports regularly to the IAEA Board of Governors regarding Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Agency’s verification and monitoring activities were adversely affected by Iran’s decision to stop implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the accord. In September, IAEA reached an agreement with Iran in which Agency inspectors will continue to service Agency monitoring and surveillance equipment and replace the storage media. Yet IAEA has not been able to access one particular facility, which means its confidence in maintaining continuity of knowledge, indispensable to the accord, is declining.
The Agency continues to monitor the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, using open-source information, including satellite imagery, he said. The country’s nuclear activities are a cause for serious concern. Its nuclear programme is a clear violation of relevant Security Council resolutions, which is deeply regrettable. He called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to comply fully with its obligations under Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in the full and effective implementation of its Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons’ Safeguards Agreement, and to resolve all outstanding issues, especially those that have emerged with the absence of IAEA inspectors from the country. The Agency continues to maintain its enhanced readiness to play its essential role in verifying the country’s nuclear programme.
Turning to the importance of science and technical knowledge, he said the modernization of IAEA’s nuclear applications laboratories is one of its most important projects. The generous support of Member States has brought the modernization process to its final phase. Its completion will let the Agency train thousands of scientists from Member States use state-of-the-art nuclear technology on climate-smart agriculture, resource management and food security.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea), introducing the draft resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/76/L.10), said the text reaffirms the indispensable role of the Agency in encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses, in technology transfer to developing countries and in nuclear safety, verification and security. Highlighting that “L.10” represents a factual update of decisions made at the most recent IAEA general conference, he expressed hope that it will be adopted by consensus.
NATALIE TOLSTOI, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, welcomed such elements of the IAEA report as the Director General’s initiatives to empower women and highlighted the bloc’s support for the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and for the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone. However, diplomatic solutions must be found to address the continued proliferation crises that are threatening international and regional peace and security, she said, citing several examples. She urged Iran to reverse all activities inconsistent with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, return to its full implementation and cooperate with IAEA to resolve pending safeguards issues. Urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to embark on a credible path towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, she said that until this happens, the European Union will continue to strictly enforce existing sanctions and urge all countries to do the same. She also urged Pyongyang to engage in meaningful discussions with all relevant parties as the international community works towards lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to IAEA safeguards, and sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
She also urged Syria to cooperate with the Agency to resolve all outstanding issues. More broadly, she said nuclear safety is critical, noting that the new European Instrument for International Nuclear Safety Cooperation, with a €300 million budget for 2021-27, will open further cooperation possibilities. Indeed, strengthening nuclear security worldwide is essential to prevent nuclear terrorism and the misuse of nuclear and radioactive material, she said, underlining the importance of joining relevant treaties and of the 2020 International Conference on Nuclear Security. For its part, the bloc remains a major donor to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund, with almost €60 million allocated since 2004, and has made related contributions, including €175 million to the European Union’s regional Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence and nearly €25 million to establish the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank. The bloc also strongly supports other Agency activities, including in raising awareness of all aspects of peaceful uses of nuclear technologies and their applications, to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.
ARMAN ISSETOV (Kazakhstan), also speaking on behalf of Kyrgyzstan, welcomed the Agency’s activities to implement safeguards through a thorough system to ensure the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. He supported the Agency's proposed project to establish the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank, which will enhance development of nuclear energy for peaceful use and thereby strengthen global nuclear security, he said. He also supported the draft resolution on the IAEA report. Turning to the IAEA classification of members in regional groups, he said it is unfortunate, that regional affiliation is not fixed, which results in the grave violation of the sovereign rights of member countries by virtue of their exclusion. Furthermore, the IAEA Statute does not define the membership affiliation of newly accepted Member States, such as Kazakhstan, which joined the Agency in 1994, and Kyrgyzstan, which joined in 2003. At present, more than 20 States that are IAEA members are not part of a regional group; that number is rising, he said, pointing out that some countries have been waiting for almost 30 years. He encouraged the IAEA Director General to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
ESPINOSA CAñIZARES (Ecuador), noting that the Agency has provided meaningful work to assist States in handling the COVID‑19 pandemic, said IAEA continues to guarantee non-proliferation while making strides in other areas. With only eight years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he drew attention to IAEA and its critical role in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy. From cancer treatments to safety measures for infrastructure, he said, nuclear technologies have been helping many States across various sectors. Ecuador has benefited from, among other things, agricultural research, including boosting the water productivity of crops. Commending the Agency’s continued promotion of the role of women in science and technology, he reiterated that IAEA is crucial for development and for building peace.
JULIA YEE (Singapore) said that, through its professionalism, objectivity and continued efforts to develop more robust mechanisms to evaluate safeguards, IAEA builds trust and international confidence that nuclear material and technology are not misused or diverted from peaceful uses. Singapore urges all States parties to honour their obligations under their respective Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with the Agency and, where applicable, the Additional Protocol. IAEA also plays an indispensable role in setting high standards of nuclear safety and security and in helping Member States implement these standards. Singapore welcomes IAEA’s work on nuclear science and technology transfers through its Technical Cooperation Programme, which plays a critical role in helping developing countries, particularly least developed countries and small island developing States, tackle challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. She also welcomed the Agency’s partnership with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the ASEAN‑IAEA Practical Arrangements, and the support that IAEA has provided to ASEAN for the safe and secure use of radiation and nuclear technologies.
MOHAMED KAMAL ALI ELHOMOSANY (Egypt) thanked the Agency for its work amid the restrictions due to the pandemic. Egypt supports the content and objectives of the resolution and was one of the founding States behind the Agency. His delegation supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy, application of safeguards systems and implementation of the safety mechanisms. There has always been cooperation between Egypt and the Agency as the country worked to build up a nuclear plant. In light of international tensions, the Agency maintains an increasingly important role in international development as the world addresses the pandemic. It is not logical to ask countries that already adhere to the agreement to provide additional commitments when other countries remain outside the system. States have the right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said, adding that it is important that conditions are not placed on Member States’ rightful use of nuclear energy.
AMARNATH ASOKAN (India), expressing support for the Assembly’s unanimous adoption of IAEA’s annual report, said the Agency plays a critical role. “It is becoming increasingly clear that nuclear energy could play an important role for member states to meet their energy needs in a sustainable way,” he said, referring to the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference. India has made considerable progress in augmenting its nuclear power capacity, having recently synchronized its first indigenous, 700-megawatt pressurized heavy water reactor — an important part of the country’s commitment to increase its non-fossil fuel energy capacity by 2030. Describing other national strides in such crucial nuclear applications as cancer treatment, he said India is part of IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network, which assists member States in mitigating the consequences of nuclear and radiological emergencies, and is sharing its knowledge and expertise around radiation technologies with partner States.
ALENA KAVALEUSKAYA (Belarus) recalled that nuclear energy is the key to energy independence, health, food, growth and the well-being of populations. She welcomed the pilot initiatives launched by IAEA to fight against plastic pollution and zoonotic diseases. Her country set up its first power plant in June 2020 and will open its second energy block in 2021. She said that Belarus is in full compliance with nuclear safety measures, is cooperating with interested countries toward that end and takes all measures to ensure the safety of its planet. Safety above all has become the motto of the Belarusian nuclear programme. Joining the sponsors of the resolution presented for adoption, he stated that nuclear safeguards must be carried out unerringly through a mutually agreed-upon approach and in strict compliance with existing international agreements.
JÁQUEZ HUACUJA (Mexico) said the draft resolution reflects the international community’s support for IAEA. Emphasizing the active work IAEA undertook across many areas, she said the Agency provided tests, equipment donation and other assistance to States in need during the pandemic. The Agency has also been key in buttressing positions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, monitoring the Joint Plan of Action and the situation in the Middle East and working on empowering women and achieving gender parity among its personnel. The Agency’s technical assistance for peaceful uses of nuclear energy continues to benefit many States across sectors, including by contributing to realizing the 2030 Agenda, she said, adding that more than 140 States are currently participating in its ZODIAC initiative.
NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria) supported adoption of the resolution by consensus. He said IAEA’s report covers the wide gambit of the Agency’s work and its achievements in nuclear technology and safeguards. Today’s meeting is an opportunity to review the Agency’s progress and its aim to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Algeria actively supports the Agency’s efforts to achieve nuclear security at the regional and international levels and has worked with the Agency to ensure its two research reactors meet IAEA safeguards. He stressed the importance of promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy and adequate security around the use of nuclear energy. His delegation appreciates the technical assistance the Agency gives to developing countries. Countries have an inalienable right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses, he said, calling on all States to display the political will to reach consensus on all three pillars of the tenth review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
JEAN-LAURENT GABRIEL IMBERT (Monaco) said that the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the backbone of disarmament and the peaceful use of the atom. He highlighted some of IAEA's recent initiatives, including the development of a technique to differentiate between artificial and natural soil erosion, the publication of the report assessing pollution trends over the past century and the ZODIAC initiative. Encouraging the place of women in the nuclear sector, he welcomed the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship programme. Furthermore, he supported the peaceful use of nuclear energy and its contribution to the environment and health, such as the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy. The visit to Monaco of the IAEA Director General was an opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the Monegasque authorities to IAEA in the work on ocean acidification, degradation of marine ecosystems and mitigation of anthropogenic consequences, as well as the study of the evolution and the impact of plastic particles in aquatic life, he concluded.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) emphasized that safeguards-related verification activities should be conducted in support of IAEA's principal role of promoting nuclear science and technology application. The United States' unlawful withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018 and reimposition of illegal sanctions against Iran, as well as the United States' significant non-performance of its obligations under the Plan and Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), have effectively prevented Iran from exercising its legitimate rights as enshrined in the Plan and resolution 2231 (2015), he said. Iran has abided by the terms of the accord, whereas the United States and the E3 ‑ including Germany, France and the United Kingdom ‑ have violated their Plan obligations. He said that Iran will fully implement the Plan if the other parties do the same, lift all unlawful sanctions in a verifiable manner and ensure that they will not violate such obligations again. He stressed that there is no evidence of diversion of declared nuclear material or activities in Iran. Furthermore, he stated that the Israeli regime has consistently and vehemently refused to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and adhere to IAEA comprehensive safeguards. The Agency must deal with this regime through an unbiased and professional approach, he said.
SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said his Government would like to clarify its position on the IAEA report, which contains information accusing the country in an unjust manner. IAEA annually submits its report, which is prejudiced and inappropriate regarding the country, which is not a member State of the Agency. Yet the report does not mention a single word about the hostile policy of the United States and the nuclear threats towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which are the root causes of the nuclear issues of the Korean Peninsula. “This clearly shows that the IAEA is being wire-pulled by the U.S. and its followers for their sinister political purposes, bereft of impartiality and objectivity basically required for an international organization,” he said. It is the United States and its follower, IAEA, that raised “suspicions” of the country’s peaceful nuclear facilities in the early 1990s, thus leaving the country with no option but to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has nothing to do with the Treaty and IAEA, and it sees no reason to implement the Safeguards Agreement. IAEA has neither justification nor qualification to claim any “verification” of or “supervision” over the country since it is not a member State of the Agency, he emphasized.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), highlighting continuing national efforts to harness nuclear technology for socioeconomic progress and the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals, said his country opened its sixth nuclear power plant in 2021 and will open another in 2022. IAEA plays a key role as the world’s focal point in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy, particularly with the fast-growing global energy demand, and can make a significant contribution in meeting the needs and challenges of the twenty-first century by ensuring equitable access to nuclear materials, technology and equipment for peaceful purposes. Honouring all its related commitments, Pakistan continues to contribute to nuclear security, including at its affiliated institutes. Meanwhile, cooperation and greater understanding is required among IAEA member States to advance the Agency’s mandate at a time when recent developments have revealed that the old consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation has broken down, he said, proposing the convening of a special session of the General Assembly to build a new consensus that responds to current and emerging realities and offers equal security to all States, large and small. This new consensus should eliminate the discrimination and double standards that characterize the present non-proliferation arrangements and should also evolve into an agreed-upon basis for promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy under appropriate international safeguards.
MATHU JOYINI LAGARDIEN (South Africa) emphasized the fundamental role played by IAEA during the COVID‑19 pandemic and in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy for global health and development. That included the launch of the Agency’s ZODIAC project, which draws on its experience in supporting Member States to use nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques to enhance global response and preparedness for such illnesses as COVID‑19. She also voiced her strong support for IAEA’s work in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy for development, include its Technical Cooperation Programme, which has played a particularly positive role on the African continent. Noting South Africa’s own engagement with the Agency, she said iThemba Labs ‑ the country’s leading research facility for accelerator-based science and host of the largest accelerator facility in the southern hemisphere ‑ has recently become an IAEA collaborating centre. She also spotlighted women’s leadership in the Agency and expressed support for women in science and technology more broadly.
AL HAKAM DANDY (Syria) said his country adheres to all relevant treaties and complies with its obligations. Raising several concerns about Israel’s false accusations and attacks, he drew attention to the 2007 air strike on a building in Deir ez‑Zor, Syria. In relation to this attack, the United States must notify IAEA about any information on Israel’s related activities, he said, also wondering about the source of images of the targeted location. In this regard, Syria has fully cooperated with IAEA, hosting the Agency’s visit to the site to collect samples. However, pressure from certain member States has hindered these and other efforts. Indeed, the United States and many European Union countries are violating their Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments by supporting Israel, including by supplying technology. Israel’s aggressive behaviour in the region represents a major danger to non-proliferation, he said, reiterating that Syria continues to cooperate with IAEA and has always respected its commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Safeguards Agreement.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine), referring to the Ukrainian safeguards agreement, said IAEA was not able to draw a broader conclusion about his country’s compliance with the agreement in 2020 due to the ongoing temporary occupation by the Russian Federation of Crimea and the Sevastopol city, as well as parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Nonetheless, his country continues to fully comply with its nuclear-related obligations and strengthen its non-proliferation track record. A situation whereby one Member State prevents the Agency from fulfilling its statutory mandate on the territory of the other Member State is a pressing problem that should be promptly addressed within the IAEA framework. Noting that the Russian Federation’s illegal actions undermine the effectiveness of the safeguards mechanism and question IAEA’s ability to provide comprehensive conclusions, he said Ukraine is highly concerned that the absence of a timely reaction by the international community to such actions would jeopardize the credibility of the Agency’s safeguards assurances. Expressing grave concern that the Russian Federation deploys in Crimea carriers and other means of delivery of nuclear weapons, he noted that the occupying Power has also seized the former nuclear weapons storage sites located in Crimea. All these actions clearly jeopardize the non-proliferation treaty regime and present a serious threat to regional and global security and stability, and thus must be properly addressed by the international community, he said.
GOBINATH NATARAJAN (Malaysia) commended the Agency’s work during the pandemic and its assistance in offering human resources to various countries to help them carry out their safety standards, evaluation mechanisms and capacity-building. He also noted that the Agency acknowledged Malaysia’s radiations measures system as well as its cooperation with other countries. Access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy must be upheld, and the most stringent safeguards must be used. Malaysia strongly believes in balance, upholding the three effective pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Treaty is the cornerstone of the international security system, he said, calling on all States parties TAKESHI OSUGA (Japan) stated that, in the wake of the COVID‑19 pandemic, Japan has contributed a total of €11 million to support IAEA’s countermeasures against infectious diseases. To create opportunities for more female scientists in the nuclear field, his country has been supporting the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme since its launch and will continue to do so, he said. Japan is grateful that IAEA successfully hosted the International Conference on a Decade of Progress after Fukushima‑Daiichi aimed at building on the lessons learned to further strengthen nuclear safety. On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear issue, he expressed concern about that country’s continued development of nuclear and missile capabilities as demonstrated by its recent missile launches. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action contributes to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime and to Middle East stability, he said, expressing hope for progress towards the immediate return of all relevant parties to compliance under the Plan. He strongly urged Iran to refrain from measures that undermine the agreement and to cooperate fully and immediately with IAEA on safeguards issues.
PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) expressed support for IAEA’s work and contribution to sustainable development and, in particular, efforts to support States in combating the COVID‑19 pandemic. In Cuba, that assistance helped bolster molecular biology networks across the country. He called for a redoubling of the Agency’s efforts to support the ultimate achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while spotlighting its connection with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and critical efforts to ensure that nuclear energy is used exclusively for peaceful purposes. The Agency’s secretariat must therefore work in a fully impartial manner. Stressing that the only complete safeguard against the threat or use of nuclear weapons is their complete and irreversible eradication, he expressed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme and rejected the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Plan. States must be able to pursue and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination, he emphasized, rejecting the imposition of sanctions that impede the exercise of that right.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), associating himself with the European Union, underlined the importance of nuclear safety as the world commemorates anniversaries of nuclear power plant accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima at a time when about 30 countries are considering, planning or starting nuclear power programmes. In this regard, IAEA plays the central role ‑ it is the nuclear safety guardian setting standards and providing valuable expertise to its members ‑ but its standards must move from non-binding recommendations to obligations for all the Member States, with special emphasis on newcomers. In Belarus, IAEA and its review services are used for manipulative public communication of how the country adopts a declarative and selective approach towards nuclear safety, he said. Condemning in the strongest terms the irresponsible decision of Belarus to build a nuclear power plant on the border with Lithuania and the European Union without proper evaluation, he said this violates article 17 of the Convention on Nuclear Safety. Belarus does not share with the international expert community the peer-review missions’ reports nor does it disclose the progress on the implementation of recommendations, as it intentionally limits the scope of the missions to avoid reviewing inconvenient topics. Recalling that Belarus has not complied with other related conventions, he encouraged the international community to join the Lithuanian call on that country to implement the highest international environmental, nuclear safety and radiation protection standards.
ANDREW DAVID ADEJO (Nigeria) expressed hope that the IAEA projects titled “Developing Safety Infrastructure for Regulating Nuclear Power Plants in Nigeria” and “Developing Safety Infrastructure for Regulating Non-Power Nuclear and Radiation Applications”, would enhance the capacity of regulatory staff to regulate power plants. He said his delegation also hopes that the projects will strengthen Nigeria’s national infrastructure for radiation protection, nuclear safety, emergency planning and radioactive waste systems in relation to exploration, mining, and milling of radioactive ores and other ores associated with radioactive material. Referring to the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference, he stressed the urgency of IAEA’s work and the need to support Member States in helping build a sustainable planet and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines) expressed support for the draft resolution on the annual report of IAEA. With developing countries disproportionately affected by COVID‑19, the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology offer solutions in monitoring and responding to the disease and preventing future outbreaks. The Philippines is grateful for the Agency's support on the establishment of the Philippine Research Reactor Subcritical Assembly for Training, Education and Research, the sustained operation of the electron beam facility and the use of isotopic techniques for food safety and security, he said. The Philippine Nuclear Energy Programme Inter-Agency Committee continues to study the adoption of a national position on a possible nuclear energy programme, considering the recommendations of the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review mission in 2018 and the Integrated Work Plan in 2019. His country has ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The Philippines welcomes the significant contributions of female scientists in enlarging the peaceful application of nuclear energy throughout the world, he said.
SARMAD MUWAFAQ MOHAMMED AL-TAIE (Iraq) welcomed IAEA’s provision of capacity-building and assistance to Member States, including Iraq, under the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the COVID‑19 pandemic. Emphasizing that “global issues require global approaches”, he called on the international community to work in unison to face common, emerging challenges such as the pandemic, climate change and the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons. Turning to IAEA’s technical cooperation programme, he said that resources must be provided for the same and that priority must be given to building developing countries’ capacities to harness nuclear technology in the health, agriculture, food and water sectors. Spotlighting the “intractable” situation in the Middle East, he said that ‑ despite regional and international efforts to make the region free of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons ‑ the “Israeli entity” refuses to support these endeavours.
MEDER UTEBAEV (Kyrgyzstan) said that, during the sixty-fifth IAEA General Conference in September 2021, the updated Strategic Master Plan for Environmental Restoration at uranium heritage sites in Central Asia was signed, showing Kyrgyzstan’s commitment to the Agency’s ideas and goals. Kyrgyzstan supports the statement made by Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan has been a full member of the Agency for 18 years, yet it has been deprived of the right to be elected to the IAEA Board of Governors and participate in significant processes, which prevents it from fully implementing the existing potential of its cooperation with the Agency. For a long time, 20 States, including Kyrgyzstan, have been unable to become members of any of the eight informal country teams on the formal principles. The root of the problems is the unofficial status of these groups. The absence of a formal legal basis, defining clear criteria for the allocation of countries into specific groups, has created the preconditions for the continuation of the current situation. This problem urgently needs to be solved as it creates inequality within the Agency among member States that should be neither de jure nor de facto. He asked the Agency to give priority to resolving this issue in order to create equal conditions for exercising the legitimate rights of member States.
MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia) highlighted the Agency’s assistance and cooperation with such agencies as the World Health Organization (WHO) during the COVID-19 outbreak, including an immediate response by the joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-IAEA Centre that included strong technical support, expert guidance and laboratory backstopping. The Agency also provided aid on detection equipment to States, including Indonesia. IAEA assists Indonesia with a range of efforts, helping the country address safety-related aspects of research, development and application activities and a radioactive waste facilities development project. IAEA is also assisting with the development of national regulations and policies as part of the implementation of previous Integrated Regulatory Review Service and Emergency Preparedness Review missions. Indonesia also stands ready to implement with IAEA the Nuclear Technology for Controlling Plastic Pollution programme, which begins in 2022. Reiterating a commitment to contributing to a successful Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he said its success will provide a strong basis for IAEA’s work.
LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) said that in his country the greatest use of ionizing radiation technology occurs in the field of medicine, where such technology allows the provision of crucial health services to the Guatemalan people. The correct and safe provision of services, as a result of nuclear technology used for peaceful proposes, is one of his country’s main priorities. In that regard, Guatemala is grateful to IAEA for its support to member States’ capacity-building efforts, its timely response to the needs that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its responses to the storms Eta and Iota in his country. Noting the importance of extrabudgetary contributions and the technical cooperation programme, he said it is vital that countries partner with IAEA so that nuclear energy can be used to increase the coverage and quality of health care services, support food production, reduce the impact of climate change, and better respond to natural disasters, among other high-priority issues, to achieve real and sustainable development.
RAFIQUL ALAM MOLLA (Bangladesh) acknowledging the important role of IAEA in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology, noted that his country is constructing the first nuclear power plant in Rooppur, in line with the highest IAEA standards, to support the development of national efforts. Expressing appreciation for the contribution of the Agency’s technical cooperation programme in health and nutrition, food and agriculture, and the environment, he voiced Bangladesh’s support for the application of nuclear technology to address environmental problems. He went on to point out that his country has undertaken projects for improving food security, developing stress-tolerant crop varieties and advancing cancer management, in line with a five-year programme framework agreement it signed with IAEA in 2018. He also emphasized that Bangladesh has fully subscribed to IAEA’s mandate of “Atoms for Peace and Development”, supporting its central role in the implementation of the Agency’s global verification regime.
Right of Reply
The representative of Belarus, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to comments by her counterpart from Lithuania, saying allegations about the safety of her country’s nuclear programme are baseless. Belarus has been open and responsible about its cooperation with IAEA, the European Union and other partners. It is taking all necessary measures regarding the safety and security of its nuclear power plants. She noted that Lithuanian experts are declining a dialogue between experts at the European level for essentially political and unilateral reasons.
The representative of Lithuania, in response to the representative of Belarus, acknowledged that each country has the right to develop nuclear power. However, his country’s concerns are related to the implementation of IAEA recommendations that infrastructure and other safety measures have not been properly addressed. He noted that the stress tests had been conducted on only one unit, despite numerous incidents and failures of the safety systems.
The representative of Belarus reaffirmed her country’s commitment to its international obligations to ensure the highest possible level of safety for its plant. Further, it remains open to dialogue and review missions and makes all results from the same available to anyone wishing to consult them.