IAEA General Conference: EU Statement

IAEA General Conference
18-22 September 2006


Mr. Pertti Torstila, Secretary of State, Ministry for Foreign Affairs

1. I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Moldova align themselves with this statement.

* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

2. Allow me first to congratulate you on your election as President of the 50th General Conference. I would like to assure you, the Members of the Bureau and the Secretariat, of the full support of the European Union for making this historic conference a success.

3. In October 1956, 81 states unanimously approved the IAEA Statute and thereby created the "Atoms for Peace Agency", as the IAEA was initially known. Since then, the number of Member States has nearly doubled. In this context, the EU welcomes and supports the applications for membership of Malawi, Montenegro, Mozambique, and Palau.

4. On this festive occasion, it is time to look back with appreciation on the accomplishments of the IAEA and reflect on the reasons why its work has become so important. The IAEA is the world's focal point for peaceful nuclear co-operation and nuclear safety and it has an indispensable, global role in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and countering new threats of nuclear terrorism. The professional and impartial expertise offered by the IAEA is widely valued by all Agency Member States.

5. The Nobel Peace Prize received by the Agency and its Director General for 2005 is the jewel-in-the-crown of the 50th anniversary celebrations and a most remarkable recognition of the achievements of the IAEA. The EU wholeheartedly congratulates Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei and his staff for the timely recognition of their important work.

6. The three pillars of the IAEA Statute - verification, safety and technology - have remained valid for the past 50 years with their respective challenges. Although all pillars are important, some are facing more urgent pressures than others. This has been in particular true for the IAEA's verification activities in recent years.

7. The EU believes that the most important challenge to non-proliferation currently faced by the international community is non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the safeguards obligations stemming from that Treaty. We regret that the 2005 NPT Review Conference was not able to produce a consensus document on these and other issues despite the efforts of the EU and other States parties. The EU hopes that the next NPT review cycle will produce tangible results in all three areas of the NPT and believes that this will help reinforce the international non-proliferation regime. The EU is looking forward to the first Preparatory Committee meeting in 2007, which could take place in Vienna, and is committed to contributing actively to a successful outcome of that meeting.

8. The EU continues to regard the NPT as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament in accordance with Article VI of the NPT and an important element in the further development of nuclear energy applications for peaceful purposes. The EU is fully committed to the NPT and the three mutually reinforcing pillars, on which it is based. The Common Position of the EU adopted for the 2005 NPT Review Conference continues to represent the basis of our common approach on which we will build to meet the important challenges of the upcoming review cycle.

9. As an important contribution to the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, the EU Heads of State and Government adopted in 2003 the EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The strengthening and the universalisation of the multilateral non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament treaties as well as their strict implementation and compliance are at the centre of EU action in this field.

10. The EU is convinced that a multilateral approach to international security, including disarmament and non-proliferation, is the best way to maintain peace and stability. The EU continues to work towards universal accession to the NPT and calls on those States not yet party to the NPT to join the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States. The EU attaches utmost importance to the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), in particular in this year of the 10th anniversary of the Treaty's opening for signature.

11. The EU is encouraged by the new momentum created this year in the Conference on Disarmament on starting negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). We appreciate the availability of the IAEA expertise and welcome the participation of IAEA representatives in the recent discussion in the Conference on Disarmament.

12. The international safeguards system of the IAEA is an essential part of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. The aim of international safeguards is to give assurances to Member States that states fulfil their obligation under the NPT and that their nuclear activities remain peaceful. The combination of a comprehensive safeguards agreement with an additional protocol permits the IAEA to provide credible assurances of non-diversion of nuclear materials and of the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities within a state. As a result, safeguards are a technical tool in support of the political goal of sustaining an environment in which nuclear energy may be used for peaceful purposes under Article IV of the NPT and complying with Articles I, II and III.

13. The EU strongly supports strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the IAEA's safeguards system, and in this context, stresses the importance of the 5th preambular paragraph of the NPT. In the past, some non-nuclear-weapon States, although they had a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement in force with the IAEA, still managed to develop a clandestine nuclear weapons programme. This is why a new legal instrument was adopted in 1997 to give the IAEA the necessary means to detect also undeclared nuclear activities and related material.

14. The EU regrets, that nearly 10 years after the adoption of the model Additional Protocol, there are still 105 States that have not yet brought an Additional Protocol into force. The EU urges all states to sign, ratify and implement an Additional Protocol without further delay. Furthermore, the EU regrets that 30 States have yet to fulfil even their basic obligation under the NPT to bring Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA into force. The EU urges these States to undertake the necessary steps to bring Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements into force without delay.

15. The EU reiterates that Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements together with Additional Protocols constitute the current IAEA verification standard. We believe that the universalisation of the Additional Protocols would strengthen the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime and would contribute to the security of all states. In addition, it would greatly increase the confidence necessary for international co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

16. The Director General of the IAEA has repeatedly stated that the Additional Protocol must become the standard for all countries that are party to the NPT, in order to enable the Agency to fulfil its verification responsibilities in a credible manner. The UN Secretary-General has endorsed this recommendation. There is a broad convergence of views on the importance of the Additional Protocol, as shown by the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and most recently by the Blix Commission. The EU believes that the time has come for the IAEA Board of Governors to recognise Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols as today's IAEA safeguards standard. We will submit a draft resolution to this General Conference seeking to put this recommendation into effect.

17. The EU believes that the conclusion by all States in the Middle East of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols should be a priority for the international community as a whole and would represent a crucial contribution to an overall improvement in security and confidence in the region. The EU calls on all States in the region to make the Middle East into an effectively verifiable zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

18. The EU commends the IAEA Secretariat for its efforts to encourage and facilitate the conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols on the basis of its Plan of Action. The EU promotes universalisation of these instruments through diplomatic action in its relations with third countries. We have also provided legislative and regulatory support to countries that need assistance in concluding and implementing Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols, notably through Joint Actions in support of the IAEA in the framework of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy.

19. Additional Protocols are in force in all EU Member States since 2005. In this context, the Euratom and the IAEA will continue dialogue on all levels to further enhance co-operation in safeguards activities. The EU also stresses the importance of the Member States' safeguards supports programmes and notes that this year the European Commission's support programme is 25 years old.

20. The EU supported the decision of the IAEA Board of Governors in 2005 to create a new Advisory Committee on Safeguards and Verification with the objective of recommending to the Board ways and means to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system. The EU encourages all States to constructively engage themselves in substantive discussions in order to further enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency's safeguards and verification activities.

21. The EU welcomes the decision by the Board of Governors to revise the Small Quantities Protocol (SQP) that represented a weakness in the safeguards system. We call on all States with SQPs to conclude as soon as possible an exchange of letters with the Director General to give effect to the standardised text and modified criteria.

22. The EU remains seriously concerned by the fact that since December 2002, the nuclear activities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have been outside IAEA verification, as stated in the Director General's report to the General Conference. The EU continues to urge the DPRK to comply with all its international commitments fully, unconditionally and without delay, in particular with its IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement under the NPT.

23. The EU reiterates its call strongly urging the DPRK to abandon and completely dismantle any nuclear weapons related programme in a prompt, transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner. We fully support the UN Security Council Resolution 1695, which strongly urges the DPRK to return immediately to the Six-Party talks without preconditions and implement the Joint Statement concluded in September 2005. The EU states its firm resolve to contribute to the search for a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the North Korean nuclear issue.

24.  The EU commends the Director General and the Secretariat for their continuing efforts to seek clarifications from Iran and to verify its nuclear programme. EU takes a serious view of the Director General's assessment that, after nearly four years of intense inspections, the Agency remains unable to make further progress in its efforts to verify the correctness and completeness of Iran's declarations with a view to confirming the peaceful nature of the nuclear programme.

25. The EU fully supports UN Security Council Resolution 1696, which, inter alia, made it mandatory for Iran to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development. Suspension is no longer a voluntary confidence-building measure, but an international obligation. The UN Security Council also called upon Iran to act in accordance with the Additional Protocol and to implement without delay all transparency measures as the IAEA may request in support of its ongoing investigations.

26. The EU deeply regrets that, as demonstrated by the Director General's report, Iran has not fulfilled the obligations established by the UN Security Council Resolution, nor taken the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors. The EU reiterates its view that prompt and full Iranian compliance with the relevant international obligations and other requirements would facilitate negotiations for a diplomatic solution. The EU recalls the intention of the Security Council expressed in Resolution 1696 to adopt appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, in case Iran had not complied with the resolution by 31 August, while noting that further decisions will be required should such additional measures be necessary.

27. The EU encourages once again Iran to engage positively with regard to the proposals made by six countries, with the support of the European Union's High Representative, for a long-term comprehensive arrangement. In this context, the EU welcomes the recent meetings between EU High Representative Javier Solana and Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.

28. Nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technologies are the subject of particular attention because of their potential military application. The EU believes it is important to encourage access guarantees to nuclear-fuel-related services or to the fuel itself, under appropriate conditions. This should happen on a voluntary basis, without undue interference with market mechanisms or conflicting with relevant international instruments. The EU welcomes the initiative of the Director General to organise a Special Event on the nuclear fuel cycle entitled "New Framework for the Utilization of Nuclear Energy in the 21st century: Assurances of Supply and Non-Proliferation" during this General Conference. We are looking forward to participating in the discussions on nuclear fuel assurances and other proposals on new approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, including the Concept for a Multilateral Mechanism for Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel proposed by six countries, including four EU partners.

29. The illicit trade in nuclear equipment and technology is a matter of serious concern to the European Union. The EU commends the IAEA for its efforts to investigate the illicit trade patterns and fully endorses the call by the Director General for full co-operation from all states in identifying the supply routes and sources of the trafficked technology and related equipment and nuclear and non-nuclear materials.

30. The EU attaches great importance to strong national and internationally coordinated export controls, notably in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Zangger Committee. The EU welcomes the outcome of the discussions during the recent NSG Plenary in Brazil and will actively take part in further strengthening the export control regime, which it sees as an essential pillar of the international non-proliferation system.

31. The EU welcomes the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and the extension of the mandate of the 1540 Committee for two years. Resolution 1540 imposes binding obligations on all States to adopt national legislation to prevent the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and in particular, to keep them from getting into the hands of terrorists or other non-State actors.

32. The EU has intensified its outreach activities and provides training and assistance to countries that need help in reinforcing their national export control systems. A number of projects are being implemented in the framework of the EU's TACIS and the Pilot Project Programmes. The EU also co-sponsored a recent UN Seminar in China, and will co-sponsor similar seminars in Peru and Ghana in support of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540.

33. The EU continues to attribute great importance to the fight against terrorism, keeping in mind the tragic events of recent years. The EU strongly supports all measures that are aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons and their means of delivery, such as those agreed within the G8 Global Partnership, the Krakow Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). In this context, the EU takes note with interest of the New Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism announced by President Bush and President Putin. The EU also supports efforts to minimise, wherever technically and economically feasible, the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the civilian nuclear sector and to facilitate conversion to low enriched uranium (LEU). In this context, we are encouraged by the discussions at the recent Conference in Oslo.

34. The EU welcomes and appreciates the IAEA activities aimed at preventing and combating nuclear terrorism. The IAEA plays a vital role in this area, particularly through its Nuclear Security Fund (NSF), to which the EU is the largest donor this year. The EU has recently approved a new Joint Action under the Common Foreign and Security Policy, worth nearly 7 million Euros, to support IAEA activities in the field of nuclear security. These projects aim at assisting partner countries in strengthening the security of their nuclear facilities, protecting highly radioactive sources and combating illicit trafficking. As an indication of the importance that we place on this issue, the EU will again co-sponsor a resolution on nuclear security at this General Conference.

35. Effective physical protection is of paramount importance for preventing illicit trafficking and ensuring protection against nuclear terrorism and other malicious acts. The EU welcomed the strengthening of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) at the Diplomatic Conference in 2005, in Vienna. The EU calls on all States that have not yet done so to become party to the CPPNM and its amendment as soon as possible. Likewise, the EU welcomes the adoption of the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and hopes that all States will sign, ratify and implement the Convention as soon as possible.

36. The EU stresses the importance of the safety and security of radioactive sources and the role of the Code of Conduct, which was adopted by the IAEA General Conference in 2003. The EU Member States have informed the IAEA Director General in writing that they are committed to following the Code in accordance with the European Directive on the control of highly radioactive sealed sources and orphan sources. The EU calls on all countries to declare their political commitment to the Code and to implement the Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources.

37. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The memory of the disaster and its consequences, the ongoing remediation work at the site as well as the challenges still ahead continue to keep the international community alert to enhancing safety in all nuclear facilities of the world.

38. The EU attaches the utmost importance to a high level of nuclear safety in the European Union and worldwide. Although safety is a national responsibility, it has implications beyond national boundaries and international co-operation on this issue is indispensable. The EU stresses the importance for all States, through uncompromising national measures and international co-operation, to both maintain safety and continuously strive for safety improvements.

39. The EU appreciates the activities of the IAEA in fostering a global nuclear safety regime. Especially we welcome the efforts over the last number of years to update and extend the IAEA Safety Standards to cover all important thematic areas, facilities and activities. The EU invites all States with nuclear facilities to make use of the IAEA peer-review missions, notably the IRRS and OSART, for establishing and maintaining a high level of nuclear safety. We also welcome the forthcoming International Conference in Greece in December 2006 on Lessons Learned from the Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities and the Safe Termination of Nuclear Activities.

40. The Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management with their respective Peer Review processes represent an important tool for establishing and maintaining a high level of nuclear safety. The Second Review Meeting of the Joint Convention took place this May with the participation of 41 Contracting Parties. The EU calls on all States that have not yet done so to accede to these conventions and to apply their resulting obligations in full.

41. Concerning nuclear waste management, two successful international conferences were organised recently: one on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Disposal in October 2005 in Japan and another on the Management of Spent Nuclear Fuel from Nuclear Power Reactors in June 2006, in Vienna. The EU emphasises the importance of such meetings as well as of communication on all levels among experts and decision-makers so as to further improve effective and safe management of nuclear waste and to address the associated challenges.

42. The necessity of safety and security when transporting any radioactive material within or across the borders of countries is of utmost importance. The EU notes with appreciation the Agency's work in this area and recognises the usefulness of the Transport Safety Appraisal Service, TranSAS, as a means of promoting the strict application of the Transport Regulations. The EU looks forward to the continuing work of the INLEX group, to which EU Member States are actively contributing.

43. Two international conventions, one on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the other one on Assistance, were swiftly adopted after the Chernobyl accident. The EU calls on all States to become contracting parties to these conventions. The EU supports measures taken by the IAEA to strengthen the international preparedness and response system and encourages all States to improve their national capabilities for dealing with nuclear and radiological emergencies.

44. The EU notes the Agency's ongoing work aiming at improving the safety of research reactors. The Code of Conduct on the Safety of Research Reactors is an important tool to that end and its effective application should be ensured.

45. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, ITER, is one of the major international scientific and technical cooperation projects. The global need for long-term and more environmentally-friendly energy requires a large worldwide increase in research efforts on energy sources to replace fossil fuels. The European Union is a party to ITER, and will host the experimental reactor on the European site of Cadarache, in France. The EU wishes to recognise the constructive contribution of the IAEA to the ITER project. In this context, the EU welcomes the 21st IAEA Fusion Energy Conference to be held in Chengdu, China, in October 2006.

46. The EU is closely following the development of innovative projects in the field of nuclear reactors and fuel cycles, which may lead to new approaches to the fundamental issues, namely safety, non-proliferation and the minimisation of radioactive waste. There are now 26 countries and the European Commission participating in the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, INPRO. Noting the complementarity of the development work undertaken within the Generation IV umbrella, the EU encourages the Agency and the interested member countries to develop areas of synergy between the two programmes.

47. The European Union recalls that Article IV of the NPT emphasises the strong link between the exercise of the right to nuclear energy and the observance of non-proliferation obligations. The EU is strongly committed to the objectives of Article IV in compliance with Articles I, II and III and encourages the many peaceful and beneficial applications of nuclear technology through multilateral and bilateral programmes.

48. One of the most important instruments for the purposes of peaceful nuclear development is the Technical Co-operation Programme of the IAEA. The EU fully supports the Programme and attaches importance to adequate financial and human resources to enable the IAEA to meet effectively its responsibilities in the areas of technical co-operation.

49. The EU supports the Agency's efforts to improve the quality of technical co-operation activities in the interest of all Member States. The EU emphasises the importance of enhanced coordination among the UN agencies to ensure an effective and sustainable impact on human health, agricultural development, the environment, and other areas. The EU endorses the recommendation by the External Auditor, namely that the Agency should embrace the objectives of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) to bring greater coherence to the UN programmes at the country level.

50. A positive example is the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) with the goal of building partnerships with all relevant parties. The EU appreciates the Secretariat's efforts in the fields of radio-diagnosis and radiotherapy to address the growing problem of cancer, particularly in developing countries. In this context, we take note of the forthcoming International Conference on Quality Assurance and New Techniques in Radiation Medicine in November 2006 in Vienna.

51. According to the Central Criterion of the IAEA's Technical Co-operation Strategy, strong government commitment is essential for successful TC support. All projects should relate to national priorities, as defined in the Country Programme Frameworks (CPFs). We again encourage the Secretariat to ensure that TC funds are spent first and foremost in developing countries that have actually contributed to the Technical Co-operation Fund (TCF) and that show no arrears in their National Participation Costs (NPCs).

52. The EU considers that transfer of nuclear knowledge, technology, equipment and materials can only take place in an environment, in which nuclear and radiation safety as well as security are ensured. We welcome the IAEA's activities in partner countries to improve the safety and security of nuclear facilities, including during the decommissioning phase, as well as the safety and security of nuclear materials and radioactive waste.

53. The EU appreciates the IAEA's education and training programmes that will contribute to the updating of nuclear knowledge so as to meet the needs of both developing and developed countries. The EU welcomes the decision to use of the Agency's monetary share of the Nobel Peace Prize for human resources development in developing countries in the areas of cancer management and nutrition.

54. The EU would like to emphasise the need to ensure that the IAEA has the financial and human resources necessary for the accomplishment of its statutory tasks. The 25 Member States of the EU contribute a substantial share of the regular budget and provide a significant share of voluntary contributions. We again call on all States to pay in full, and on time, to the regular budget and to the Technical Co-operation Fund (TCF) and to contribute to the Nuclear Security Fund (NSF).

55. The EU believes that another four-year budget package for the years 2008-2011 would bring predictability to the Agency's funding. The EU notes the recommendation by the External Auditor that efforts be made by Member States to complete the ratification process of the 1999 Decision to enable the Secretariat to introduce biennial budgeting as is common within the UN system.

56. The IAEA is held in high regard and is widely seen as a well-run and dynamic organisation. Much of this credit is due to the efforts of the Director General and his staff. The EU continues to support the Director General's efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Agency in accordance with the Medium Term Strategy 2006-2011. The EU thanks the External Auditor for useful recommendations that help the Secretariat in this process.

57. The EU is confident that the IAEA Member States, in particular at this 50th General Conference, will manage once again to achieve a substantive outcome. The EU, on its part, reiterates its full support to the IAEA and reaffirms its willingness to effectively co-operate with other Member States in the Spirit of Vienna.