Iran needs to cooperate with the IAEA fully and in a timely fashion, IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta told the Agency’s Board of Governors today. Mr Feruta, who held talks with senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, said: “It is important to advance our interactions and, therefore, I also stressed the need for Iran to respond promptly to Agency questions related to the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations.” In his opening statement to a regular session of the 35-nation Board, he added: “The Agency will continue its efforts and will remain actively engaged. Time is of the essence.”
Mr Feruta also updated the Board on the application of safeguards in North Korea. He called on the country, also referred to as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), to comply fully with its obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the IAEA and to resolve all outstanding issues.
“As detailed in my report on the application of safeguards in the DPRK, some of the country’s nuclear facilities appear not to be operating, while activities at some other facilities have continued or developed further,” Mr Feruta said. “The DPRK’s nuclear activities remain a cause for serious concern. The continuation of that programme is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable.”
In his remarks, Mr Feruta, who was named Acting Director General following the death of Director General Yukiya Amano in July, provided an update on developments in various areas of the Agency’s work since the last regular Board meeting three months ago.
Among recent achievements in technical cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear technologies, Mr Feruta cited an IAEA project in Colombia, where experts are using nuclear and isotopic techniques to accurately evaluate sedimentary processes in waterways, which threaten the viability of the country’s 12 hydro-electrical power plants.
He also spoke of the inauguration of a radiotherapy facility in Tajikistan last month, the first outside the capital. “Addressing cancer remains a high priority for Member States,” he added.
This year’s IAEA Scientific Forum, which will take place next week, will focus on ‘A Decade of Action on Cancer Control and the Way Forward.’
Updating the Board on the modernisation of the IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, Mr Feruta said the new Flexible Modular Laboratory building will be ready for use next April. The new Insect Pest Control Laboratory was handed over by the contractor last month and a phased transition into operation is underway.
“Following commissioning of the labs in the new buildings, our focus will shift to the enhancement of those that will remain in their existing buildings,” Mr Feruta told the Board. “To provide the core infrastructure to complete this element, we will need 2.6 million euros in extrabudgetary resources by early next year. I know I can count on your continuing support.”
The Board received an update on how the IAEA has been helping a number of Asian countries to respond to an unprecedented outbreak of African Swine Fever in the region. IAEA experts have been on the ground in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Mongolia and Myanmar to provide advice, and emergency toolkits have been delivered.
Mr Feruta noted that the IAEA’s latest projections for nuclear power show that, despite the declining trend for installed capacity up to 2050, nuclear power will continue to play a key role in the world’s low-carbon energy mix.
“Several studies suggest that around 90% of electricity will need to be low-carbon if climate change targets are to be met,” Mr Feruta said. “In order to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, significant progress will need to be made in using the full potential of nuclear power.”
Mr Feruta drew attention to the IAEA’s International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power, which will take place in October and will cover the topic of transitioning to clean energy.
Nuclear safety and security
Mr Feruta referred to the late Director General’s report on Nuclear and Radiation Safety, pointing to achievements such as the completion of a revised long-term structure for IAEA safety standards to make them stronger and easier to use.
Priorities in nuclear security for the coming year include the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, to be held in February 2020 in Vienna, to which all Member States have been invited to participate at ministerial level.
Today was the first regular meeting of the Board of Governors since the death of Director General Amano, Mr Feruta noted.
“Our organization has been tested in the last few months,” he said. “I believe we demonstrated strength and resilience in continuing to fulfil our responsibilities, despite the many challenges we face.”