Photo Credit: Camille Hofileña / IAEA
IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta said Iran should cooperate fully with the Agency in order to resolve outstanding issues in his statement to the Agency’s Board of Governors today. He also emphasized the IAEA’s contributions to sustainable development and spoke about its achievements in the last quarter.
“As I reported to the Board on November 7th, the Agency has detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the Agency,” Mr Feruta said. “We have continued our interactions with Iran since then, but have not received any additional information and the matter remains unresolved.”
A meeting between the Agency and Iran is scheduled next week in Tehran to discuss the matter, he said.
“It is essential that Iran works with the Agency to resolve this matter promptly. I call upon Iran to provide full and timely cooperation with the Agency in implementing its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol,” Mr Feruta added.
The additional protocol to a country’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA grants the Agency expanded rights of access, allowing it to obtain a much fuller picture of the country’s nuclear programmes, plans, materials and trade. This significantly increases the IAEA’s ability to verify the peaceful use of all nuclear material in the country. Additional protocols are in place with 136 countries, including Iran.
Mr Feruta informed the Board that the Agency is continuing to monitor the nuclear programme of North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), using open source information and satellite imagery. He called upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency, and to resolve all outstanding issues, including those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country. IAEA inspectors were required to leave North Korea in 2009.
The Acting Director General renewed his call to Syria to cooperate fully with the IAEA in connection with unresolved issues.
Following the meeting of the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee this week, Mr Feruta announced that 591 new technical cooperation projects have been proposed for the 2020-2021 period.
He highlighted several recent technical cooperation projects which have provided great benefits to the countries concerned. The Agency is helping Lesotho as it gears up to open its first cancer facility in 2024. In Europe, the IAEA has organised training workshops on using advanced radiotherapy techniques safely.
Turning to food and agriculture, Mr Feruta mentioned the first ever plant breeding programme in Namibia, which is helping farmers reduce the use of irrigation water by an estimated 30% to 40%. Trainees from Small Island Developing States in Asia and the Pacific have learned about crop mutation breeding to adapt plant varieties to climate change.
Also in Asia and the Pacific, Mr Feruta mentioned a project to inspire a new generation of nuclear scientists and engineers by providing secondary school teachers with the tools and methods to teach young students about nuclear applications. IAEA support to the Water Secretariat in Ecuador is helping to improve the conservation of the Zamora River Basin and the country’s management of groundwater resources.
The IAEA held the first International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power last month in Vienna. “Participation exceeded expectations,” Mr Feruta said. “The key message of the conference was that all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear power, are needed to decarbonize the energy sector and meet global climate goals.”
Ghana and Egypt received IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions from the IAEA to assess the status of their national infrastructure for the introduction of nuclear power. INIR missions are planned next year to Belarus, Kenya, Uganda and Uzbekistan.
The IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Kazakhstan, aimed at providing assurance to countries about the availability of nuclear fuel for reactors, became operational in October when the first shipment of LEU was delivered. “We expect to receive the second, and final, delivery by the end of the year,” Mr Feruta said.
Nuclear Safety and Security
Mr Feruta briefed the Board on the Agency’s fifth International Conference on Effective Nuclear and Radiation Regulatory Systems, which took place earlier this month. “Participants highlighted the need to improve the management of capacity-building, safety-related research and development, the interface between safety and security and other regulatory issues,” he said.
Important forthcoming events include the International Conference on Research Reactors starting next week in Buenos Aires, and the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, scheduled for February 2020.
In response to the increased interest of Member States, the IAEA recently issued a second report on multilingualism, detailing its continued efforts to provide information in multiple languages within available resources. These included the launch last year of websites in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
Turning to the IAEA’s budget, Mr Feruta noted that the Agency has had to use the Working Capital Fund to meet its needs since the end of October, because not enough countries have paid their contributions. “I remind Member States of the importance of paying their assessed contributions to the Agency promptly and in full,” he added.