Speakers Stress Key Role of Technical Support, Nuclear Safeguards, as General Assembly Considers International Atomic Energy Agency’s Annual Report, Adopts Related Text
The General Assembly, acting without a vote, today took up the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and adopted a related resolution.
By the terms of the text, the Assembly reaffirmed its strong support for 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. The Assembly also appealed to Member States to continue their support for the Agency’s activities.
The Assembly also had before it a statement from Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, introducing the Agency’s annual report for 2021 (document A/77/308/Add.1). Since the start of the military conflict in Ukraine, the IAEA has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. Four IAEA missions have travelled to Ukraine — three of them under Mr. Grossi’s direct leadership — which resulted in the implementation of a comprehensive support programme. The IAEA has also established an ongoing presence at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and has called for the implementation of a nuclear safety and security protection zone.
The shift to more nuclear power brings to the fore the indispensable work of the IAEA, Mr. Grossi said through his statement. As new technologies create new opportunities and as nuclear science and technology support the Sustainable Development Goals, the IAEA is ensuring that no one is left behind. Safety and security norms and international legal frameworks will continue to remain strong, flexible and forward-looking. His statement then highlighted the Agency’s activities to verify and monitor the nuclear-related commitments of States as well as its technical cooperation support to countries. The IAEA will ensure that Member States have access to the resources and knowledge of nuclear science, technology and its applications.
Many delegates spotlighted the technical assistance and capacity-building support their countries received from the IAEA in support of national development efforts, with several also stressing the Agency’s importance as the sole competent authority on safeguards.
Within the Latin American and Caribbean region, the IAEA has provided technical assistance on social and economic development by focusing on human health, radiation safety, food, agriculture, water and the environment, Ecuador’s representative shared. Its technical cooperation programme responds to Member States’ priorities and needs to help countries build their capacities, he noted.
Malaysia’s speaker added to the chorus of praise and called for sufficient, assured and predictable resources for the Agency’s cooperation assistance. Programmes should continue to be developed in a professional, impartial and non-discriminatory manner. They cannot be subjected to any political, economic, military or other conditions incompatible with the IAEA’s provisions, he stressed.
His colleague from Namibia echoed the call for increased funding while underscoring the importance of gender equality as a key enabler for women’s participation in all spheres of development.
Turning to the situation in Ukraine, the representative of Japan condemned the Russian Federation’s threat to use nuclear weapons as a serious and unacceptable menace to the peace and security of the international community. Never before have nuclear risks emanated from a nuclear-weapon State, Ukraine’s delegate said. “For generations, the Russian Federation will be remembered as the only country that seized and occupied peaceful nuclear facilities,” he declared. Nuclear safety and security, Lithuania’s representative added, can only be ensured by the unconditional withdrawal of the Russian Federation’s armed forces and military equipment from Ukraine.
Responding to the allegations concerning his country, the speaker for the Russian Federation underscored the defensive nature of his nation’s doctrine and directed attention to the documents circulated within the Assembly and the Security Council. “In a nuclear war, there is no winner and it should never be unleashed,” he said.
The dangers facing Ukrainian nuclear plants, Mexico’s representative pointed out, have demonstrated the Agency’s exceptional, timely, and necessary work.
Several delegates also raised continuing concerns, with some urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran and Syria to cooperate with the IAEA and comply with their obligations.
So long as the Agency follows in the footsteps of the United States’ hostile policy, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will not engage, its speaker replied. Instead of wasting its time by interfering in his country’s internal affairs, the IAEA should focus on issues such as nuclear proliferation, he said.
In highlighting his country’s continued cooperation with the Agency, the representative for Iran said safeguard-related verification activities must support the Agency’s function without obstructing the economic or technological development of States. Unlawful unilateral coercive measures and dual standards, he lamented, have adversely affected the peaceful use of nuclear energy and hampered technical cooperation.
Kazakhstan’s delegate, speaking also for four other Central Asian States, spotlighted the “current, impermissible, unfair and discriminatory circumstance” whereby IAEA member States are not affiliated with a regional group. These “homeless” States are deprived of their sovereign right to be elected to the IAEA’s governing bodies and continue to be excluded from most information, advisory, consultative and decision-making processes. While Kazakhstan will defer the submission of its resolution on the restoration of sovereign equality until the next IAEA General Conference, all member States and the IAEA secretariat must take immediate action to resolve this unacceptable and continued violation, he said.
Also delivering statements were the representatives of the Czech Republic, Egypt, Singapore, Pakistan, South Africa, India, Argentina, Indonesia, Colombia, Philippines, Poland, Guatemala, Iraq, Albania, Algeria, Slovenia, Ireland, Kuwait, Cuba, Bangladesh, Australia, Honduras, Monaco, Chile, El Salvador, Nigeria, Belarus, Republic of Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union in its capacity as observer, as well as the Sovereign Order of Malta.
Delegates from Israel, Lithuania, Iran, Belarus and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 November, to take up its agenda item on the situation in Afghanistan, consider the Secretary-General’s related report and take action on an associated resolution.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, commended the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for facilitating nuclear safety and stability amid the backdrop of interlocking crises and for meeting the demands of the moment with expert resolve. The IAEA mission in Zaporizhzhya, he noted, is working around the clock to ensure the safety and security of the largest power plant in Europe ‑ and ninth largest in the world ‑ and prevent a nuclear disaster. As IAEA experts are in a unique position to provide up‑to‑date and credible information from the ground, often at great risk to themselves, all parties must fully cooperate with the Agency. Moves to erode nuclear non‑proliferation regimes constitute a major threat to peace and security, he said while highlighting the situation on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East. Countries must cooperate fully with the Agency with a view to achieving peaceful co‑existence through confidence building and transparency.
As more countries turn to nuclear energy to meet their needs, IAEA’s responsibility to ensure that nuclear technologies are safe, secure and peacefully used has only grown, he noted. Member States, businesses and civil society must engage with IAEA on identifying the available options which address both the energy supply crisis and climate change. They must also address the connection between nuclear energy and the environment, he encouraged.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), whose country serves as Chair of the Board of Governors from October 2022 to September 2023, introduced the draft resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/77/L.9). He 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.9” represents a factual update of decisions made at the most recent IAEA General Conference, he expressed hope that it will be adopted by consensus to send a strong message on the importance that the international community attaches to IAEA and its wide scope of work.
ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan), speaking also for Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, highlighted the unacceptable and continued violation of the principle of sovereign equality. IAEA member States, he noted, are divided among eight informal regional groups based on geographical representation, as in other organizations within the United Nations system. This affiliation, however, is not legally defined. IAEA Statute does not, he continued, delineate membership affiliation for newly accepted member States which has been the case for the five Central Asian States when they joined. These fully‑fledged member States have remained “homeless” and are deprived of their sovereign right to be elected to IAEA’s governing bodies, he said.
He went on to note the lack of reassuring prospects for change in the foreseeable future. Despite the agreement amongst member States at this year’s session of IAEA’s General Conference, a sizeable number of countries continue to be excluded from most information, advisory, consultative and decision‑making processes. As IAEA is the only organization within the United Nations system which does not have a clear regional distribution, Kazakhstan has drafted a resolution on the restoration of sovereign equality. In the spirit of cooperation and goodwill, his country will defer submission until the next session of IAEA General Conference, he said. All member States and IAEA Secretariat must take immediate action to resolve this “current, impermissible, unfair and discriminatory circumstance” and ensure that the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations and IAEA Statute are fully implemented, he urged.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador), in reiterating the need for the full implementation of the Nuclear Non‑Proliferation Treaty, highlighted the contributions and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. IAEA’s technical cooperation programme responds to the priorities and needs of member States to help countries build their capacities, he said. Within the Latin American and Caribbean region, IAEA has provided technical assistance on social and economic development by focusing on human health, radiation safety, food, agriculture, water and the environment. The use of nuclear technology to control plastic pollution ‑ through NUTEC Plastics which integrates nuclear techniques for the recycling of plastics and marine control of microplastics ‑ further demonstrate the Agency’s unique contributions, he pointed out. Turning to the security situation in Ukraine, he commended IAEA’s efforts and echoed the Director‑General’s call for an urgent protection and safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia power plant.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said that the role of the Agency is becoming increasingly important due to the dangers of nuclear proliferation. The Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons mentions the fact that safeguards must not hinder international cooperation in the field of peaceful use. Despite this, the current situation shows that some countries are placing conditions upon peaceful use, which counters the objectives and spirit of the Treaty. Such measures politicize the system and cause overlaps and duplications, he said. This also causes a feeling of dissatisfaction amongst Member States who fully respect the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. Egypt underscores the importance of the voluntary nature of the Additional Protocol. It is not logical that countries who respect the Treaty be subject to more constraints, whilst others fall outside such requirements, he added. Despite the efforts of the Agency, several countries have not enjoyed the fruits of technological progress in nuclear energy.
HUANG ZI (Singapore), whose country is a member of IAEA’s Board of Governors for 2022 to 2024, called on all States parties to honour their obligations under their respective Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with the Agency and, where applicable, the Additional Protocol. Welcoming IAEA’s first Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission to Singapore in October, he stressed the importance of IAEA’s Seven Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security. He added that Singapore is heartened to see the Agency leverage its nuclear science expertise to contribute to the global fight against COVID‑19 through its ZODIAC initiative, which will help Member States rapidly detect and respond to future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases.
MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan) said that harnessing nuclear technology is a priority for his country for the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. “We view nuclear energy as a reliable, consistent and carbon-free source of electricity generation,” he stressed. Pakistan’s efforts to expand nuclear power generation and to increase its share in the national energy mix are driven by the fact that it is not only an energy-deficient country but also one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change. The ongoing floods in Pakistan showed the urgent need for global action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Losses and damages from the floods have amounted to a tenth of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP). For its part, Pakistan has developed a comprehensive nuclear safety and security regime based on an extensive legislative and regulatory framework governing the security of nuclear materials, radioactive substances, associated facilities and activities. All States should fully comply with their respective safeguards’ obligations, he continued, also emphasizing that the Agency's safeguards should not be used to serve partisan political objectives. The Agency’s verification regime could remain credible only if it is applied on a non-discriminatory basis, as stipulated in the body’s statute, he added.
OLOF SKOOG, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, condemned the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine, noting that the former country continues to pose serious, direct threats to the latter’s nuclear facilities. The Russian Federation is also preventing IAEA from fully conducting its safeguards‑verification activities in Ukraine in a timely manner, and he expressed concern that each of IAEA’s seven pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised by the Russian Federation’s invasion. The European Union will never recognize Moscow’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s regions, nor its seizure of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant from its owner. He called on the Russian Federation to implement IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution for Ukraine’s authorities to regain control of all facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Further, Moscow must stop its illegal war of aggression, withdraw its armed forces and materiel and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He went on to express regret that the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons could not achieve an outcome document because the Russian Federation blocked consensus. He stressed that the Treaty remains the cornerstone of the global nuclear‑non‑proliferation regime and an important element in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Expressing concern over Iran’s escalation of its nuclear programme “without any plausible civilian justification”, he urged that country to reverse all acts inconsistent with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and immediately return to its full implementation. He also condemned nuclear and ballistic activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, urging Pyongyang to comply with its obligations under multiple Security Council resolutions, refrain from further nuclear tests and ballistic launches and engage in meaningful dialogue with all relevant parties. Further, he urged Syria to cooperate fully with IAEA to resolve all outstanding issues.
AMIR SAIED IRAVANI (Iran) expressed his concern over the systematic denial by certain States on capacity‑building and the transfer of nuclear technology for sustainable development. Safeguards‑related verification activities should support IAEA’s primary function to advance the application of nuclear science and technology and must be designed and implemented in a manner which respects the inalienable rights of States parties without obstructing their economic or technological development, he said. Unlawful unilateral coercive measures and dual standards, he lamented, have adversely affected the peaceful use of nuclear energy and hampered technical cooperation. Despite the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, its reimposition of sanctions and current refusal to return to the agreement, Iran has continued to uphold its commitments and cooperated with IAEA, he noted. The Agency’s impartiality, independence and professionalism should never be jeopardized nor influenced by certain parties, he stressed while urging IAEA to deal with Israel’s refusal to abide by its comprehensive safeguards.
SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) categorically rejected the inclusion of the IAEA resolution, which he described as part of a plot manipulated by the United States. Citing Washington’s increasing hostility against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he stressed the importance of impartiality and objectivity. Opposing deception and mockery of the international community on the part of IAEA, he advised the Agency to focus on issues such as nuclear proliferation instead of wasting time interfering in the internal affairs of his country. So long as the Agency follows in the footsteps of Washington’s hostile policy, allowing for double standards, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will not engage with it, he asserted.
ANATOLII ZLENKO (Ukraine), voicing concern over the impact of Moscow’s brutal military assault against Ukraine on IAEA’s work, supported the Agency’s efforts to strengthen capabilities of the Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB). The recent decree of President Vladimir Putin on the illegal transfer of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to the ownership of the Russian Federation grossly violates international law and contradicts the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement between Ukraine and IAEA. “For generations, the Russian Federation will be remembered as the only country that seized and occupied peaceful nuclear facilities,” he said, adding that never before have nuclear risks emanated from a nuclear‑weapon State. Condemning Moscow’s breach of the non‑proliferation regime established by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he said that its actions at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant represent a new dimension in warfare, using a peaceful nuclear facility as a potential “dirty bomb”. In response to Moscow’s accusations that Ukraine is developing a “dirty bomb”, he stressed that, following the visit of IAEA safeguards inspectors to three locations in Ukraine, no evidence of undeclared nuclear activities or materials were found.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) noted the increasing number of Member States requesting support from IAEA regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Such support assists States in addressing their socioeconomic development needs, and she emphasized that IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme has played a particularly positive role in Africa. A key area of growth on the continent is nuclear energy, and South Africa remains committed to strengthening its participation and programmes with IAEA. In this regard, she spotlighted South Africa’s iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences, which is Africa’s leading research facility for such science, the host of the largest accelerator facility in the Southern Hemisphere and an IAEA Collaborating Centre. Noting that nuclear‑power applications are a key feature in South Africa’s 20‑year electricity‑generation plan, she also stated that her country remains committed to the continued safe operation of Africa’s only commercial nuclear power plant, the Koeberg nuclear power station. She further welcomed IAEA’s ZODIAC project, as well as the Agency’s efforts towards gender parity.
AMARNATH ASOKAN (India) underscored the Agency’s role in helping countries build human and institutional capacities, including regulatory capabilities for the safe, secure and peaceful use of science and technology. The role of nuclear science and technology is crucial in building back better from the COVID‑19 pandemic, while also advancing and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In that regard, the Agency’s activities continue to contribute to meeting energy needs, improving human and animal health, developing agriculture, managing the use of water resources and optimizing industrial processes. The Agency directly helps to improve the quality of life and well-being of people around the world. He outlined several of India’s successes, including adhering to safety measures and significantly lowering the cost of medical treatments. As in previous years, India's collaboration with the Agency continues to remain vital for such progress, he added.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) said her country has been a nuclear State for 70 years and, during that time, has built up broad scientific and technological capacity. Highlighting Argentina’s unique profile as a developing country which is a responsible exporter of nuclear reactors to countries on all continents, she stressed that since its creation, IAEA has been an invaluable source of technical cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Underscoring the importance of nuclear energy in tackling climate change, she emphasized that Argentina aims to give nuclear energy a greater role in its energy matrix. Commitment to the highest standards of nuclear technological safety continues to be one of the pillars of Argentina’s nuclear policy, she noted, pointing to the Quadripartite Agreement between Argentina, Brazil, the Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials and IAEA.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia) said that his country recognizes all States’ inalienable right to develop, research and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In this regard, Namibia prioritizes its technical‑cooperation programmes with IAEA and welcomes the Agency’s engagement with member States to implement national development priorities. Detailing successful cooperation with IAEA in sectors such as agriculture, human health, food security and environmental protection, he nevertheless noted that his country is constrained by financial and technological challenges. He therefore called for increased funding for IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme, also stressing that gender equality is an important tenet of democracy and a key enabler for women’s participation in all spheres of development. He went on to note continued interest in IAEA’s ZODIAC project since its launch in 2020. The fact that the project has 150 designated national focal points across member States speaks volumes regarding the benefits member States hope to derive therefrom. He also called for universal implementation of all international instruments aimed at nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation, urging all States ‑ especially nuclear‑weapons States ‑ to pledge that such weapons will “never, ever be used again”.
MARIA BENEDICTA DIAH KRISTANTI (Indonesia) emphasized the need to support IAEA’s role in promoting nuclear science and technology to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. Global partnership and regional networks should continue to be strengthened, including through IAEA’s initiatives to increase Member States’ capacities to tackle health, environment and climate‑change related challenges, she said. Technology cooperation must promote and transfer nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, be tailor‑made, correspond to nationally identified needs and priorities and be undertaken in full recognition of national ownership, she continued. For its part, IAEA must continue its efforts in addressing the challenges faced by developing countries. As the sole competent authority, it should also continuously address emerging issues concerning safeguards, she added while expressing her hope for expanded cooperation between her country and the Agency.
NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia), whose country is a member of the IAEA’s Board of Governors and served as Vice‑President from 2021 to 2022, called for the strengthening and expansion of the assistance and technical cooperation pillar. Developing countries’ access to the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology must be improved, she encouraged while spotlighting IAEA’s innovative responses to health and environmental challenges. Turning to IAEA’s role in verifying the peaceful nature of nuclear programmes, she called for the strengthening of its nuclear safeguards and verification system. The Agency must also continue to incorporate a gender focus in disarmament, non‑proliferation, arms control and the peaceful uses of energy, she emphasized. She welcomed IAEA’s efforts to achieve gender parity by 2025.
ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO (Philippines), recalling that the President of the Philippines has conveyed the need to re‑examine the country’s strategy towards building nuclear power plants, said that it appreciates IAEA’s assistance as it develops a comprehensive law dealing with nuclear safety, security and regulation. It also appreciates the Agency’s ongoing efforts to identify nuclear applications to address developmental challenges, including the ZODIAC project. He went on to emphasize the paramount importance of States’ compliance with their respective obligations under the relevant safeguards agreements as well as the provision of full cooperation to the Agency.
GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico) underscored the Agency’s central role in monitoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and providing information on nuclear safety in the Middle East and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He noted the many activities of the Agency in ensuring the safety of nuclear plants and other related establishments as well as arrangements with States to respond to possible emergencies. Turning to the dangers facing Ukrainian nuclear plants, he said that the case has been an example of the exceptional, timely and very necessary work of the Agency. In the same vein, there are still lingering dangers and “very serious humanitarian consequences not only for Ukraine, but also for the other countries of the region”. The Agency must be able to carry out the necessary inspections of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to ensure objective, truthful and independent information about its conditions. Any attack against nuclear installations is an inadmissible violation of international humanitarian law and other statutes of the Agency, he stressed. Further, he expressed support for the Agency’s various safety initiatives, including in the area of infectious diseases.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) condemned the Russian Federation’s threat to use nuclear weapons as a serious and unacceptable menace to the peace and security of the international community. In expressing his concern over the situation of the nuclear facilities in Ukraine, he voiced his country’s support for the Agency’s ongoing assistance to Ukraine and commended the recent IAEA inspections, which confirmed no undeclared nuclear activities and materials in the facilities of that country. IAEA should continue to ensure its safeguards are efficient and effective, including through the universalization of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and their Additional Protocols, he encouraged. Concerning the nuclear and missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he urged that country to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and cease its related programmes. All States must fully implement the relevant Security Council resolutions, he stressed before turning his attention to Iran’s nuclear-related activities.
AZRIL BIN ABD AZIZ (Malaysia) highlighted the importance of technical cooperation activities for developing countries and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resources for technical cooperation activities must be sufficient, assured and predictable, he urged. Programmes should continue to be developed in a professional, impartial and non‑discriminatory manner and should not be subjected to any political, economic, military or other conditions incompatible with IAEA’s provisions. On nuclear safety standards, he encouraged the sharing of best practices among States. Such efforts, however, should not hamper the ability of Member States to access and develop the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology, he cautioned. He then voiced his support for the Director‑General’s seven pillars while noting the need to prevent the risk of nuclear incidents by ensuring the safety and security of civilian nuclear installations during armed conflict.
MATEUSZ SAKOWICZ (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed IAEA’s central role in facilitating and encouraging the responsible development of peaceful applications of nuclear technology. In that context, he expressed concern over serious, direct threats to nuclear facilities posed by the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. The occupation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone by the Russian Federation, attacks in and around Ukrainian nuclear sites and the illegal seizure of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant are unacceptable and must be strongly condemned by the international community. He underscored that these unlawful, violent actions directly contravene the inalienable right to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and impede IAEA from fully and safely conducting safeguards‑verification activities in Ukraine. Noting that his country ‑ together with Canada ‑ tabled two IAEA Board of Governors’ resolutions that were adopted by an overwhelming majority, he said that it is “high time” for the Russian Federation to heed the call of the international community and immediately, fully comply with such resolutions. He added that Poland has supported IAEA Director-General’s work to assist Ukraine in ensuring nuclear safety and security, as well as his efforts to establish a protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
CARLA MARIA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) called for the use of nuclear science and technology for exclusively peaceful ends to safeguard future generations from nuclear annihilation. Highlighting the benefits of nuclear technologies in areas such as health, agriculture, food, security and the environment, she underscored the shared benefits of reciprocal cooperation between IAEA and developing countries. She also pointed to regional projects where both parties benefit through the mutual exchange of knowledge, experiences and resources. Voicing concern over the worrisome situation in the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant due to Moscow’s illegal invasion of the sovereign territory of Ukraine, she warned against a serious nuclear accident that would have incalculable consequences for the world.
SARHAD SARDAR ABDULRAHMAN FATAH (Iraq), noting that IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme promotes socioeconomic progress in Member States, stressed that the Programme must have sufficient, predictable and proportionate funding, as stipulated in IAEA Statute. The Agency’s cooperation with Iraq, like in other developing countries, has helped build technical capacity in important areas such as health, agriculture, nutrition, water resources and isotope treatments. Noting that his country uses nuclear energy peacefully in sectors such as medicine, saltwater treatment and agriculture, he reported that national efforts are under way towards signing a programme framework with IAEA for 2023-2027 to adapt the Sustainable Development Goals to Iraq’s national plans. He went on to underline his country’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, expressing disappointment over the failure of the Ninth and Tenth Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Member States must show flexibility and political will to ensure that the Eleventh Review Conference, to be held in 2027, is successful. He also underscored that all States must accede to the Treaty to ensure that the Middle East can become a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, spotlighting Israel’s refusal to do so.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned the Russian Federation’s war and Belarus’ support. Nuclear safety and security can only be ensured by the unconditional withdrawal of the Russian Federation’s armed forces and military equipment from Ukraine, he said. Turning to Belarus’ rushed development and irresponsible operation of its nuclear power plant, he reiterated his country’s stance that the plant was constructed in violation of international nuclear safety standards and should not be in operation. The international community must call on Belarus to implement the highest international environmental, nuclear safety and radiation protection standards, he insisted. On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he condemned its nuclear and ballistic missile activities and called on it to cease its destabilizing actions, abide by its international obligations and re‑engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with IAEA. He then urged Iran to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, reverse all inconsistent activities, cooperate with IAEA and fulfil its obligations under the Additional Protocol.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania) commended the Agency’s efforts to help maintain the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. The Agency is carrying out its duties in a professional and impartial manner. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, occupied by the Russian Federation forces since March, continues to be at serious risk with the potential of causing a catastrophe for Ukraine and the entire continent, he warned. He called for the establishment of a protection zone around the plant, as a matter of “paramount urgency” to avoid any catastrophic incident. He urged the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops and return control of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to Ukrainian authorities. Further, he expressed concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous violations of Security Council resolutions through its development of nuclear and missile programmes. Turning to the Middle East, he said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains the only tool for the international community to be reassured that Iran’s nuclear programme is and remains solely dedicated to peaceful purposes. He also expressed concern with Syria’s non‑compliance with Non‑Proliferation Treaty obligations and IAEA safeguards.
ALEKSANDR V. SHEVCHENKO (Russian Federation) stressed the importance of maintaining the objective and technical nature of IAEA’s verification mechanism. Preserving Member States’ confidence through transparency and impartiality is vital for ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and its return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said. Member States must also ensure that IAEA’s activities are in strict compliance with its mandate and not politicized, he continued. In response to allegations concerning his country, he underscored the defensive nature of his country’s doctrine and directed attention to documents circulated within the Assembly and Security Council. “In a nuclear war, there is no winner and it should never be unleashed”, he said. Ukraine’s attacks, continued shelling and sabotage are the main threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant’s security, he insisted, while voicing support in principle for a protection zone. IAEA must also pay close attention to any information on possible provocations by the Kyiv regime, including on a “dirty bomb”. On the Non‑Proliferation Treaty review conference, he spotlighted the hypocrisy of Western States, attributing the lack of an outcome to their politicization of the process.
NADER LOUAFI (Algeria) welcomed the Agency’s technical cooperation programme, which provides Member States support in important sectors and helps bolster knowledge and capacity. He also underscored the Agency’s several initiatives aimed at boosting regional cooperation in Africa on projects relating to nuclear medicine. Algeria stands ready to provide its expertise and infrastructure to achieve the Agency’s various objectives that will help African countries. He underscored the importance of the Agency’s initiative to combat plastic pollution and welcomed the body’s measures to renovate and modernize its laboratories, which play an important role in capacity‑building for developing countries. The peaceful use of nuclear energy and the creation of nuclear plants requires an adequate regime to guarantee certain nuclear safety and security safeguards, he added.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating with the European Union, noted that his country is one of 32 States with a fully‑fledged nuclear programme. Regarding nuclear safety, he expressed deep concern about Moscow’s war in Ukraine, which has significant implications for global nuclear safety. Legally binding obligations of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remain valid, he stressed, describing IAEA’s safeguard system as fundamental to the nuclear non‑proliferation regime. In this context, he urged Iran to cooperate with IAEA without any further delay or conditionality, in accordance with the Treaty’s safeguards agreements. Further, he expressed deep concern over the nuclear and ballistic missile activity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, calling on that country to take concrete verified actions towards de‑nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and refrain from nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches to prevent escalation.
CAÍT MORAN (Ireland), aligning herself with the European Union, said IAEA plays a crucial role in supporting States to develop, enhance and share their capacities for the peaceful use of nuclear energy across areas such as medicine, industry, food and agriculture. The sustainable use of nuclear energy must be accompanied by appropriate, strong and effective nuclear safety and security, she added, noting that IAEA plays an essential part in supporting the implementation and continuous improvement of global standards in this area. She went on to condemn the Russian Federation’s actions in its illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine, which pose continued threats to the safety and security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and their civilian personnel, impeding IAEA’s safeguards‑verification activities. The ongoing shelling and missile fire around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and other Ukrainian nuclear facilities raise grave concerns, she said, calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. She also expressed concern over Iran’s continued escalation of its nuclear programme ‑ in some cases, with no plausible civilian justification ‑ supporting full restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urging Iran to cooperate with IAEA to fully clarify and resolve safeguards issues without further delay.
MR. SALMEEN (Kuwait) emphasized the vital role of IAEA in ensuring nuclear safety and security through implementation of safeguards on a bilateral basis, including with his country. Expressing support for IAEA’s projects, he announced a $200,000 contribution for renovation of the nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf. On gender, he spotlighted his country’s cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank on combatting cancers in women as well as its support for the IAEA Marie Curie Fellowship Programme. Turning to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, he called on Iran to fully cooperate with IAEA, implement Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) and establish and ratify IAEA’s Additional Protocol for verification of nuclear safeguards. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons through a verified system, he added, while condemning its launch of ballistic missiles. Israel must adhere to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and submit its nuclear facilities to IAEA’s system of safeguards, he said.
YUSNIER ROMERO PUENTES (Cuba) rejected unilateral, coercive measures that contravene with Article Four of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by restricting international cooperation and limiting access to materials, equipment and technology for nuclear activities for peaceful purposes. His country condemns the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba, which makes it significantly more expensive for the latter country to acquire equipment and delays implementation of its national projects under the auspices of the Agency. United States’ companies or even companies of third countries that have United States investors cannot sell vital equipment to Cuba, he added. Cuba reiterates its commitment to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he said, adding that implementation of the system of verification of safeguards is essential in implementation of the Treaty on Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Cuba favors respecting the inalienable right of States to carry out research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), spotlighting his country’s construction of its first nuclear power plant, underscored contributions of IAEA’s technical cooperation programme to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For Bangladesh, the programme has facilitated the peaceful use of nuclear techniques in sectors such as agriculture, livestock and water management; developed human resources; and strengthened capacity building. IAEA should scale up its support to developing countries on plastic recycling and marine monitoring of microplastics, he encouraged. He then requested the Agency to extend its cooperation to his Government on containing the Aedes mosquitos responsible for dengue fever. Through its unique science and evidence‑based approach, IAEA should show how nuclear technology is vital in fighting climate change and addressing its consequences, he urged. The Agency can only continue to excel if member States provide the necessary support, he added.
HEATHER MCINTYRE (Australia), condemning the Russian Federation’s unilateral, illegal and immoral aggression of Ukraine, voiced concern over the nuclear safety, security and safeguards implications of that country’s actions. The Russian Federation must withdraw from the territory of Ukraine and allow Ukrainian authorities to re‑establish control over their nuclear sites, she urged. Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she condemned the ongoing development of its illegal and destabilizing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must return to full compliance with the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, permit the return of IAEA safeguards inspectors and sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty. Iran, she continued, must reverse the steps it has taken away from its nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. IAEA’s work on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology must be maintained, especially in light of ongoing global challenges.
RAMÓN EMILIO FLORES (Honduras) reiterated his Government’s support for strategic alliances to disseminate the cooperation programme of the region with IAEA. Honduras is currently implementing four national projects for 2022-2023, complementing the objectives of its national development programmes, he said, pointing also to synergy with different academic and research bodies on the ground. Honduras has played a noteworthy role in eradication of mosquito‑borne diseases ‑ the hidden pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives in the country, he stressed. Regarding the fight against cancer, Honduras welcomes the Agency’s role in improving diagnostics, prevention and treatment. He also expressed support for the ZODIAC initiative, which proposes to help countries use nuclear techniques to quickly detect pathogens that cause diseases in animals that are transmissible to people. As a State party to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Honduras recognizes the importance of cooperation in nuclear energy, he said, calling for a high level of international solidarity.
DAPHNÉ BRIGITTE MARIE LE SON (Monaco), aligning herself with the European Union, welcomed IAEA’s efforts in Ukraine to prevent a nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. She also highlighted the Agency’s contribution to preserving peace and security through its promotion of the peaceful, safe and secure use of nuclear science and technology. IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme contributes directly to the attainment of certain Sustainable Development Goals through assistance provided to States in areas such as energy, human health, food, water management and environmental protection. Noting the ongoing 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, she underscored the critical importance of data collected by isotopic techniques in assessing the effects of climate change, particularly on the seas and oceans. In this context, she spotlighted the work of IAEA’s marine environmental laboratories in Monaco, which work to monitor and assess pollution in the marine environment. She added that her country supports IAEA’s work to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology for human health, regularly providing financial contributions to the Agency’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy.
PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile) commended IAEA for its flexibility in responding to the COVID‑19 pandemic as well as its work with her country’s specialized agencies. Chile adheres to the principle of the “indivisibility” of international security since all States have the responsibility to contribute to an international order based on multilateralism and cooperation, she said. The future of nuclear science, technology and its applications lies in their peaceful uses, she noted while spotlighting a number of the Agency’s flagship projects and its technical cooperation programme. As women are essential to the field of nuclear science and its applications as well as to IAEA’s activities, the Agency must ensure their participation at the highest level, she stressed. It must also produce and disseminate up‑to‑date statistics, ensure parity in discussion panels and support civil society organizations which bring together female nuclear scientists. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, she called on the relevant parties to ensure the safety and security of all nuclear installations.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) recognized the central role that the Agency has played in the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, particularly during the height of the COVID‑19 pandemic. “We're pleased to see that the verification and safeguards activities were not slowed down despite the challenges posed at the time by travel restrictions, lockdowns and isolation requirements in all countries,” she added. El Salvador remains committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and reiterates support to the peaceful use of nuclear energy without discrimination. The Agency’s safeguards are an essential and trustworthy instrument for the verification of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The safeguards also help prevent nuclear proliferation. She highlighted various improvements made in El Salvador’s health sector following the guidance of the Agency. Her country remains eager to participate in the Agency’s initiative aimed at boosting radiological and human resources capacities devoted to cancer care, she said.
MUHAMMAD ZAYYANU BANDIYA (Nigeria) welcomed the Agency’s ZODIAC project for assisting countries in reducing the risk of the next zoonotic disease becoming a pandemic. Nigeria welcomes the Agency’s work in ensuring the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which in turn assists countries in their socioeconomic development, he added. The Agency continues to support Member States in a variety of ways, including cancer control, soil and water management, detection of zoonotic diseases and power generation. The Agency’s work in nuclear safety as well as its safeguards contribute to international peace. Nigeria remains hopeful that the Agency’s various projects will strengthen Nigeria’s national infrastructure for radiation protection, nuclear safety, emergency planning and radioactive waste systems, he added.
ALENA KAVALEUSKAYA (Belarus) warned against the temptation of many countries to politicize the work of IAEA. The Agency should remain at the side‑lines of global politics and be strictly guided by its thematic mandate, she stressed, highlighting IAEA’s role as a main international mechanism for assisting countries in gaining access to the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy in areas such as energy, food production, health care and addressing climate change. Her Government’s cooperation with IAEA is actively expanding in connection with the implementation of its national nuclear programme, she noted. Voicing concern over the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Belarus by Western States, she underscored that despite external pressure, the country will continue to fulfil its obligations. She called Lithuania’s accusations about the lack of safety of the Belarus’ nuclear power plant “completely unfounded”. Moreover, she rejected the accusations that Belarus is taking part in Moscow’s special military operation, adding that her country has always been in favour of resolving conflicts peacefully.
SUNG HOON KIM (Republic of Korea), in underlining the need to secure the highest standards of nuclear safety and security as a prerequisite for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, spotlighted his country’s contributions to IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund and its $1.2 million pledge to the Agency’s ongoing efforts in Ukraine. Parties which have not entered the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, the Additional Protocol and the revised Small Quantities Protocol into force must do so without delay, he urged. All outstanding safeguards issues concerning undeclared locations in Iran must be resolved and all parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiations must return to mutual compliance with the milestone agreement. Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he urged that country to cease all destabilizing actions in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions and return to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA safeguards regime.
ADIB AL ASHKAR (Syria) recalled the Israeli attack on a building in the Syrian governorate of Deir ez‑Zor in September 2007, which represented a violation of sovereignty and international law. Instead of condemning this attack, some used it as a platform to promote false allegations against and exert political pressure on Syria. Discussions in IAEA’s Board of Governors concerning the implementation of safeguards in Syria are examples of how some countries manipulate the Agency to serve their political agendas, he said. He went on to emphasize that most of IAEA’s conclusions regarding the building destroyed in Deir ez‑Zor are based on images and analysis provided by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. This poses many questions regarding the credibility of such information, considering the United States‑United Kingdom invasion of Iraq on the pretext of misleading information regarding the presence of weapons of mass destruction in the latter country. Adding that Syria has cooperated positively with IAEA, he said that some countries continue to question such cooperation while they violate their obligations under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty by protecting Israel’s ability to maintain its nuclear programme outside of international supervision.
WAJDI HASSAN M. MOHARRAM (Saudi Arabia) underscored the importance of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as the foundation for a world free of nuclear weapons. The IAEA has a crucial role in verifying the compliance of States’ with their obligations, he noted while spotlighting his country’s national policies and adherence to the highest standards of transparency and safety. Saudi Arabia, he continued, also cooperates with other States and organizations to benefit from their respective experiences and knowledge on nuclear energy. Turning to Israel, he called on that country to join the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. The international community must ensure that Israel’s nuclear facilities are subjected to IAEA’s safeguards regime, he emphasized. On Iran, he attributed the Agency’s inability to verify the peaceful use of its nuclear facilitates to that Government’s lack of cooperation. He then welcomed the overall progress in the Middle East on establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons.
PAUL BERESFORD-HILL, Permanent Observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta, citing that the nuclear weapons stockpile currently stands at over 13,000 nuclear warheads, stressed that greater surveillance over the production and intent of nuclear weapons should be respected by all Member States unanimously and without obstruction. The sobering reality of the cost of nuclear weapons remains harrowing. Nine nuclear‑armed States spent billions of dollars on nuclear weapons in 2021 alone. Those funds could have gone to helping people deal with the COVID‑19 pandemic, food insecurity and other humanitarian woes. “We cannot allow ourselves and our neighbours to choose weapons over life, and certainly not at the expense of fundamental human rights,” he said. Despite the 15 nuclear “close calls” the world has experienced in the last 70 years, it seems that “this good fortune of never escalating to a full nuclear war has induced us to forget the true severity such weapons are capable of”, he added.
Right of reply
The representative of Israel, exercising his right of reply, said Iran and Syria continue to perpetuate lies and false accusations. “However, the clear facts must not be ignored,” he added. Iran and Syria both knowingly and deliberately continue to violate and undermine the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as they seek to destabilize the Middle East and threaten its inhabitants. They must immediately and unconditionally provide answers to the Agency regarding violations of its safeguards agreements.
The representative of Lithuania, responding to Belarus in exercise of the right of reply, reiterated his country’s respect for the right of States to develop nuclear energy. Any country embarking on such a programme has the obligation to abide by the highest international standards on safety and must undertake national decisions in a broader context that considers transboundary implications, he stressed. Having closely followed the development of Belarus’ nuclear power plant, he noted that Belarus has undertaken a selective approach on nuclear safety standards and recommendations, disregarded requirements of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and demonstrated a lack of transparency and openness.
The representative of Iran rejected allegations against his country made by the “representative of the Israeli regime”. He stressed that Israel flagrantly violates international law by continuing its malicious behaviour of illegal and illegitimate acts in the “occupied territories”, assassination of scientists by sabotage and kinetic and cyber attacks on other countries. Further, the Israeli regime continues to refuse to adhere to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention, and consistently votes in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and other fora against the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction. He added that, while nuclear weapons in the hands of this regime pose the most threat to the security of Middle East States, Israel still attempts to distort the nature of Iran’s exclusively peaceful nuclear programme.
The representative of Belarus, exercising her right of reply, said that nuclear safety and security requires daily and practical work, a constructive focus and cooperation within specialized international platforms from every State. Belarus has been working in a responsible manner to ensure the highest possible safety and security of its power plant as well as transparency in its construction and operation, she insisted. Her country regularly participates in various review measures under relevant international conventions, has worked at the regional level and has undergone voluntary stress tests and partner assessments. She then expressed her country’s interest in more active, direct and constructive cooperation with Lithuania on a bilateral basis.
The representative of Syria, exercising the right of reply in response to Israel’s delegate, called Israel’s position weak and precarious. “The representative of Israel is resorting to false allegations and trying to draw attention away from the fact that Israel has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction,” he said, adding that the country refuses to adhere to any treaty or convention on disarmament. It is high‑time that the international community opposes these grave actions and adopts a strong decision to bring Israel into the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a nuclear State, submitting its nuclear facilities to Agency oversight without any conditions.