Frank Discussion Follows Submission of International Atomic Energy Agency Report to General Assembly, with Focus on Compliance, Risk of Nuclear Disaster
Updating Member States on the status of adherence to the safeguards governing the management of nuclear weapons, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today briefed the General Assembly on IAEA’s work, including in Ukraine, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and elsewhere.
Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi presented IAEA’s annual report containing a resolution titled “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/78/L.7), adopted this afternoon by the General Assembly.
Concerning Ukraine, he detailed IAEA’s presence at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, saying it has been focused on preventing a nuclear disaster. In 2022, IAEA conducted nine in-person missions to Ukraine and facilitated the delivery of safety equipment. The efforts culminated in an agreement that led to a continuous IAEA presence at all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
“The bottom line is that nuclear power plants should not become part of the theatre of war,” he said.
On Iran, he said IAEA verification and monitoring of Tehran’s nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been seriously affected by that country’s decision in February 2021 to stop implementing them, including the Additional Protocol. This was exacerbated in June 2022 by Iran’s decision to remove all the IAEA’s monitoring equipment previously installed in the country. Iran must resolve IAEA’s questions concerning traces of man-made uranium identified at three undeclared locations.
On the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that IAEA monitors that country’s nuclear programme from outside its borders. The continuation of its nuclear programme is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable, he said.
He also spotlighted IAEA’s work in helping nations overcome challenges like disease and climate change through the power of nuclear technology. The demand for energy will only continue to grow. In Africa, for example, electricity capacity is set to increase fivefold by 2050.
“I urge the decision makers of our world, whether as stakeholders in development banks or other mechanisms funding the green transition, to recognize nuclear energy and its infrastructure for what they are: proven, safe, large-scale and long-term sources of low-carbon energy,” he said.
In the ensuing daylong discussion, speakers touched on the various situations of concern, from the Russian Federation’s seizure of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to the growing concern regarding the situations in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
To that end, Australia’s delegate urged Iran to resolve all outstanding safeguards issues with IAEA, condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems and called on Moscow to withdraw immediately from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power site.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that the Russian Federation’s illegal seizure of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant not only violates international law, but also affects nuclear safety in Ukraine. Regarding Iran, concrete moves of nuclear de-escalation are needed, without further delay, to restore trust. On the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, she said it “cannot and will never have the status of a nuclear-weapon State under the NPT or any other special status”.
Ukraine’s delegate said that the Russian Federation’s complete disregard for generally accepted principles of nuclear safety jeopardizes the safe operation of Ukraine's nuclear power plants every day. He cited the placement of landmines and the construction of firing positions on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, as well as the presence of armed military personnel there. The shelling of the infrastructure and the Ukrainian energy sector pose a grave risk to the nuclear safety and security of Ukraine and beyond, he said.
Iran’s delegate said that IAEA conducts robust and continuous verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Nuclear power is crucial for meeting energy needs with low carbon impact. “Exploiting nuclear proliferation concerns to restrict these rights is unacceptable,” he said, adding that it is problematic for some States to deny developing countries access to nuclear technology while generously supporting the Israeli regime.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that Pyongyang will never change or concede its status “as long as tyrannical nuclear weapons of the United States remain in place and imperialist aggressive forces exist”. More than 30 years have passed since IAEA lost its authority to talk about “our nuclear issue”, he said, adding that the Agency is “abused as a political tool of the United States”.
Upholding IAEA member States’ trust in the safeguards system, said the representative of the Russian Federation, requires a transparent and unbiased approach for drawing conclusions on verification. States must abstain from “artificially” placing issues on its agenda that go beyond the Agency’s Statute.
In that vein, Pakistan’s delegate said the Agency’s safeguards “should not be used to serve partisan political objectives”, adding that its verification regime will remain credible only if it is applied on a non-discriminatory basis. He further noted, along with several other speakers, how his country has benefited from IAEA support. In the health-care sector alone, 19 cancer hospitals, operated by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, provide vital care to over 80 per cent of cancer patients. Recalling the floods that submerged one-third of Pakistan last year, he said that nuclear power “has a vital role in mitigating and adapting to climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon energy future”.
International Atomic Energy Agency Report
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that IAEA supports nations in overcoming challenges like disease, poverty, hunger, pollution and climate change through the power of nuclear science and technology. Yet, even after trillions of dollars spent on the green transition over the past 20 years, hydrocarbons still supply more than 80 per cent of the world’s energy. Today, solar and wind technologies contribute to 5 per cent of global energy supply. The fact is that, without nuclear power, global carbon dioxide emissions would be considerably higher. Many countries understand this as those already operating nuclear power programmes are extending them.
In Africa, electricity capacity is set to grow fivefold by 2050, and in Latin America it is forecast to double, he continued. Achieving such growth will require better investments, taking into consideration the full benefits of nuclear energy. To that end, IAEA facilitates understanding of nuclear financing and the macroeconomic impacts of nuclear investments. “I urge the decision-makers of our world, whether as stakeholders in development banks or other mechanisms funding the green transition, to recognize nuclear energy and its infrastructure for what they are: proven, safe, large-scale and long-term sources of low-carbon energy,” he added. Unlike fossil fuels, whose waste kills 8 million people a year, nuclear energy accounts for and carefully stores all of its waste.
Turning to IAEA’s presence at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, he said that the experts there have worked tirelessly to prevent a nuclear accident from bringing even more suffering to the people already bearing so much. In 2022, IAEA conducted nine in-person missions to Ukraine and facilitated the delivery of crucial safety equipment. These efforts culminated in an agreement that would lead to a continuous IAEA presence at all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. “The bottom line is that nuclear power plants should not become part of the theatre of war.” Neither should they be attacked nor militarized.
He said that IAEA verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been seriously affected by Iran’s decision in February 2021 to stop the implementation of those commitments, including the Additional Protocol. This was exacerbated in June 2022 by Iran’s decision to remove all IAEA equipment previously installed in the country for surveillance and monitoring. Iran still needs to resolve some of IAEA’s questions concerning traces of man-made uranium identified at three undeclared locations in that country. Unless and until Iran clarifies these issues, IAEA will not be able to provide assurances about the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.
Turning to the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that IAEA has continued to monitor that country’s nuclear programme from outside its borders. The continuation of its nuclear programme is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable.
On a broader note on IAEA’s work, he highlighted that the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action initiative is helping countries better prepare for zoonotic disease outbreaks, while NUTEC Plastics is helping reduce the amount of plastic pollution. Initiative training courses have already reached participants in 95 countries. Meanwhile, NUTEC Plastics is supporting countries considering establishing a pilot plant for plastic waste recycling and those seeking to monitor marine microplastics through isotopic tracing.
The representative of Argentina, introducing the draft resolution titled, “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/78/L.7), expressed support for IAEA’s activities in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and non-proliferation. Argentina’s nuclear programme, with more than seven decades of development and its exclusively peaceful uses, generates scientific, technological and industrial resources. Regarding the resolution, she said it updates last year's text, and, as such, notes the resolutions and decisions adopted by the IAEA General Conference at its sixty-seventh regular session. Some of the session’s resolutions were adopted by a vote.
Regarding IAEA’s Annual Report for 2022, one Member State voiced a reservation, as contained in the IAEA Information Circular INFCIRC/1102, she said, adding that the draft resolution reiterates the strong support of Member States for IAEA and the activities entrusted to it. Following consultations in Vienna on 24 October, the draft was unanimously approved for submission to the General Assembly, and she thanked all sponsors for their support. She hopes that that Assembly will adopt “L.7” without a vote, to signal the importance that the international community attaches to IAEA and the broad scope of its work.
The representative of the European Union in its capacity as observer, said the European Union joined the consensus on the IAEA Report, highlighting IAEA’s indispensable role. The Russian Federation’s war of aggression and its illegal seizure of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant violate international law and affect nuclear safety in Ukraine. That country must urgently withdraw all its armed forces from the plant.
Regarding Iran, she said concrete and sustained moves of nuclear de-escalation are needed to help restore trust. “Iran must cooperate in full with the IAEA, without further delay, to resolve all pending safeguards issues,” she said, strongly condemning the “de-designations” by Iran of experienced IAEA inspectors. She called on the country to work with IAEA in earnest towards the fulfilment of the commitments contained in the March 2023 Joint Statement.
She expressed the Union’s grave concern about the continued development by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, in clear violation of relevant Security Council resolutions. She urged steps to be taken towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and insisted on a return to compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreement. She also urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Democratic People's Republic of Korea “cannot and will never have the status of a nuclear-weapon State under the NPT, or any other special status,” she said.
The representative of Pakistan noted his country has been a significant beneficiary of IAEA’s support, recalling that Director General Grossi’s recent visit bolstered the ongoing collaboration between his Government and IAEA. In the health-care sector, 19 cancer hospitals, operated by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, provide vital care to over 80 per cent of cancer patients. Pakistan has aligned its technical cooperation programme with the IAEA Medium Term Strategy, signing a practical arrangement with its technical cooperation department. Recalling the catastrophic floods that submerged one‑third of Pakistan last year — affecting 33 million people and causing losses and damages amounting to a tenth of its gross domestic product (GDP) — he stressed: “We firmly believe that nuclear power has a vital role in mitigating and adapting to climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon energy future.”
Citing Pakistan’s extensive experience in operating a secure and fully safeguarded nuclear power programme, he pointed to six nuclear power plants with a combined capacity of 3,530 megawatts, as well as the country’s construction of another nuclear power plant, Chashma unit 5, with a capacity of 1200 megawatts. Underscoring the fundamental importance of removing barriers for gaining equitable and non-discriminatory access to civil nuclear cooperation, he affirmed that all States should fully comply with their safeguards obligations. However, “the Agency’s safeguards should not be used to serve partisan political objectives”. Its verification regime will remain credible only if it is applied on a non-discriminatory basis as stipulated in the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He further noted that the country is party to several leading international instruments related to nuclear safety and security, with a rigorously enforced framework that complies with the highest global standards.
In light of recent developments, he proposed convening a special session of the General Assembly to establish a new consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation that better addresses the current and emerging realities and offers equal security to all States, large and small. This new consensus should eliminate discrimination and double standards inherent in existing non-proliferation arrangements and establish a framework for promoting peaceful nuclear energy under appropriate international safeguards, in line with the international obligations of States and on a non-discriminatory basis. Pakistan will continue to support IAEA’s role in the promotion of peaceful nuclear technology in accordance with its mandate, as outlined in its Statute.
The representative of Indonesia warned against the use of nuclear threats in this volatile global security context and said that the irresponsible statement, threatening the use of nuclear weapons in the Gaza Strip targeting the Palestinian people, is simply unacceptable. “Such provocative language exacerbates conflict and raises doubt on the commitment to nuclear disarmament.” This is exactly why all countries, including Israel, must renounce their possession of nuclear weapons, properly place all nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards in accordance with Security Council resolution 487 (1981) and conduct nuclear-related activities in conformity with the non-proliferation regime. “Nuclear war will only bring devastation to mankind,” she said, adding, “There can be no winners.” She supported IAEA’s mandate and noted the broad range of applications of nuclear technology as outlined in its Report.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that he deeply regretted that the draft resolution titled “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency”, submitted to the meeting, for it contains inappropriate references to his country’s self-defensive nuclear activity. IAEA continues to submit to the UN General Assembly annual reports with the aim of finding fault with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This constitutes a flagrant infringement upon that country’s sovereignty and seeks to interfere in its internal affairs, which he said, “we can never tolerate” and strongly condemn and reject. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will never change or concede its current status “as long as tyrannical nuclear weapons of the United States remain in place and imperialist aggressive forces exist,” he said.
He said that more than 30 years have passed since IAEA lost its authority and competence to talk about “our nuclear issue”. In the 1990s, IAEA fabricated an unjust resolution, raising suspicions about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear facilities for peaceful purpose, which compelled the country to take the resolute measure of withdrawing from the International Atomic Energy Agency. “The IAEA is abused as a political tool of the United States and the West,” he said. It should dedicate itself to addressing imminent issues of international concern, such as nuclear proliferation, instead of the wasting time and resources on anti-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resolutions year after year.
The representative of Syria noted that his country joined the NPT in 1969 and signed the safeguards agreement with IAEA in 1992. The Israeli aggression against his country targeted buildings in 2007, in flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty and international law, but instead of condemnation, this was “used to launch a campaign of lies against my country”. He cited the safeguards regime’s implementation in Syria as an example of the manipulation used by certain IAEA States for their political agenda. According to the IAEA Statute, the United States had to notify it of information in its possession before Israel destroyed the building, and not eight months after. This is also true of Israel, which did not provide any information to IAEA, and committed an act of military aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Palestine.
He further noted that most of IAEA’s conclusions regarding the building in Syria were based on images and analyses provided by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, raising many questions. Syria cooperates with IAEA and, in June 2008, authorized its team to visit sites in Syria and take samples. In October 2011, an action plan was established to settle all suspended issues, but pressure from certain Member States has undermined these efforts. The United States and European Union countries continue to violate their obligations under the NPT by protecting Israel and its nuclear programme from any international monitoring — a true danger for the non-proliferation regime in the Middle East. Israel rejects any initiatives to create a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the region, and refuses to submit its nuclear installations to IAEA safeguards.
The international community must not remain silent about these challenges and act urgently to adopt dissuasive measures forcing Israel to adhere to the Treaty and deal with “the Israeli nuclear abnormality”, which is extremely important as it is “ramping up its aggressions against the Palestinian people and has shown its extremist face”. He cited the example of an Israeli minister who called for the use of nuclear weapons against the Gaza Strip, and urged the international community and IAEA to take all necessary measures to place that State’s nuclear installations under its monitoring processes. He affirmed that the Report proves that Syria has respected all of its legal obligations under the safeguards agreement.
The representative of Iran said that nuclear power is crucial for meeting energy needs with low carbon impact, especially in developing countries. Safeguards should support nuclear science and technology advancement without hindering NPT States parties’ rights or sovereignty. “Exploiting nuclear proliferation concerns to restrict these rights is unacceptable,” he said, adding that it is problematic for some States to deny developing countries access to nuclear technology, while generously supporting the Israeli regime even with clandestine weapons of mass destruction. Unilateral coercive measures and double standards harm peaceful nuclear energy use and technical cooperation.
Regarding Iran’s peaceful programme, he said that IAEA conducts robust and continuous verification and monitoring of the country’s nuclear facilities, and he expects Iran’s deep and good-faith cooperation to be duly recognized. Iran is entitled to utilize its right, as outlined in the IAEA’s comprehensive safeguards agreement, concerning inspectors’ admissions.
The representative of Japan said that the peaceful use of nuclear energy is becoming increasingly important as a response to global issues such as climate change and in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. Japan contributes to IAEA activities regarding the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes pose a serious challenge to the international non-proliferation regime and are “totally unacceptable”. Japan strongly urges the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete steps towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction. All States must fully implement relevant Security Council resolutions, and the “denuclearization of North Korea requires robust verification,” he said.
Japan is seriously concerned about expansion of Iran's nuclear activities and has been urging Tehran to take constructive measures including full and unconditional cooperation with IAEA, he added. Japan remains gravely concerned about the nuclear facilities in Ukraine. The Russian Federation’s military activities in and around nuclear power plants in Ukraine cannot be tolerated.
The representative of Egypt said that his country, as a leader in harnessing the peaceful use of nuclear technology, is taking its first steps in launching the country’s first nuclear-operated power plant to produce electricity. He called for more financing for the Agency’s technical assistance and international cooperation to ensure the continuation of its activities in the peaceful use of nuclear technology for developing countries, in particular, the African countries and member States of the Group of 77 and China. He underscored the importance of ensuring that IAEA controls any divergency of any new nuclear material, observing the safeguards in conformity with the NPT. This should not include any additional commitments other than those provided under the Treaty. In this respect, he reiterated his reservations about the 2022 report and the new technical elements on which Member States were not consulted.
The representative of Australia welcomed that all technical resolutions were passed by consensus this year and that IAEA was able to pass texts on several important strategic and procedural issues, including issues regarding the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. As the Russian Federation’s illegal and immoral war looks likely to enter a third year, President Vladimir Putin’s irresponsible nuclear threats and his decisions to suspend the New START and to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) demonstrate his contempt for international rules and norms in pursuit of his own political objectives.
Commending IAEA staff for continuing to ensure nuclear safety and security at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, the speaker called on Moscow to withdraw immediately from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear site and from all of Ukraine. She called on Iran to resolve all outstanding NPT safeguards issues with IAEA. She also condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Australia recently contributed $A3.5 million of extrabudgetary funding to support IAEA’s flagship initiatives in its region, she noted.
The representative of Ukraine recalled that 2022 was the year when a nuclear Power attacked a peaceful non-nuclear-weapon country, seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and occupied the territory where one of the worst nuclear disasters occurred — the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The Russian Federation’s complete disregard for generally accepted principles of nuclear safety jeopardizes the safe operation of Ukraine's nuclear power plants every day. He cited the placement of landmines and the construction of firing positions on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, as well as the presence of armed military personnel there. Additionally, the shelling of the infrastructure and the Ukrainian energy sector pose a grave risk to the nuclear safety and security of Ukraine and far beyond. Moreover, several Ukrainian plant employees are exposed to life-threatening occupational safety and health risks, and many were threatened into signing contracts with the occupying forces.
He cited a number of emergencies, including, recently, when the occupiers switched the plant’s power units 4 and 5 to the “hot shutdown” mode. Such actions violate the current license, which calls only for a “cold shutdown” state. Ukraine has repeatedly drawn the international community’s attention to the technical problems at the plant due to a lack of proper maintenance, scheduled repairs and availability of spare parts. He further noted that the IAEA Board of Governors adopted three resolutions expressing grave concern that the Russian Federation’s aggression is impeding the Agency from fully and safely conducting safeguards verification activities at Ukrainian nuclear facilities within its internationally recognized borders. Resolution GOV/2022/71, in particular, does not recognize the Russian Federation’s attempts to take ownership of Ukraine’s plant. However, Moscow failed to implement any of them.
The speaker recalled that the IAEA General Conference adopted resolution GC(67)/RES/16 of 28 September, which calls for the immediate withdrawal of all unauthorized military and other personnel from the plant and for it to be immediately returned to the full control of the competent Ukrainian authorities. The broad cross-regional support for this resolution demonstrates an understanding of the problems caused by the Russian Federation’s occupation of Ukraine, and the speaker called for the country to be held accountable for its complete disregard of the norms of international law. Ukraine encourages participation in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace formula — with its first item focused on radiation and nuclear safety, envisaging that Ukrainian nuclear power plants and installations must operate safely under full sovereign control of Ukraine, while IAEA shall play a leading role in maintaining nuclear safety and security.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that at the sixty-seventh General Conference 178 Member States adopted by consensus the resolution titled “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement between the Agency and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea”. The resolution once again clearly stated that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea cannot have a status of a nuclear-weapon State and that all States should fully, comprehensively and immediately implement the relevant Security Council resolutions, he said, adding that the resolutions mandate a complete ban on arms trade with the that country. “We urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease all provocations, including its illegal nuclear and ballistic missiles programme, and take concrete steps towards complete denuclearization,” he said.
He expressed appreciation for the Agency’s continued monitoring of Iran’s activities and hoped for progress that would allow the international community to regain confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of that country’s nuclear programme.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that upholding IAEA member States’ trust in the safeguards system requires transparency and a politically unbiased approach to drawing conclusions on verification activities. Noting that his country is in favour of the universalization of key international legal instruments in this area, he reiterated his support for the promotion of nuclear technologies and their deployment in various areas of human activity. He spotlighted the new activities launched by the IAEA Director General aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals, while emphasizing that States must abstain from “artificially” placing issues on the agenda that go beyond the Agency’s Statute. In the context of geopolitical turbulence, member States should do everything to ensure that IAEA is not politicized, he added.
He said that the resolution titled “Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards in Ukraine” (document GOV/2022/52) was adopted on 28 September at the sixty-seventh session of the IAEA General Conference “under pressure of the United States and its allies”. He said it contains “unfounded, groundless allegations” against Moscow and is designed to exert pressure. He therefore disassociated himself from consensus on paragraph 2 of the report’s operative part, maintaining that the document “crudely distorts the reality and strays beyond the powers granted to the Agency by the Statute”.
For the Russian Federation, he added, it is unacceptable that any provisions of the Agency’s annual report or other documents ignore the fact that nuclear facilities in Sevastopol, in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions — including the Zaporizhzhia Power Plant — are located on the territory of the Russian Federation and under its jurisdiction. Moscow is ready to provide access to those facilities if requested, he said, adding, “These facilities have nothing to do with the safeguards applications in Ukraine.”
He went on to say that the Russian Federation has never launched attacks from the Zaporizhzhia Power Plant, while Ukraine’s armed forces are aiming their shells at its most vulnerable parts, deliberately increasing the risk of a large-scale radiological accident. “Such senseless actions” have been going on for over a year. On 3 November, during the planned rotation of IAEA experts, Ukraine violated the ceasefire by launching drone attacks on Enerhodar. Western delegations refuse to recognize that the “Kyiv regime” has turned the Power Plant into a target of a nuclear blackmail. On 26 October, it also attacked the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Iran is in no moral position to preach about nuclear threats. “Iran, in itself, is accountable for the mistrust in the Middle East arms control architecture and has violated its commitments to the NPT and its safeguards agreement with the IAEA […] over and over again,” he said. Its track record throughout the years is well known: “It lies and hides its true intention.” Just a few weeks ago, IAEA stated clearly that Iran’s manipulations negatively affect the verification activities in that country under the NPT safeguards agreement. “Make no mistake: Iran will do whatever it can do to deceitfully wash away its crimes and will use false accusations against Israel to shift attention,” he said.
Regarding Syria, he said there are open questions from IAEA regarding its clandestine nuclear programme. “The existence of undeclared nuclear activities in Syria remains relevant and worrying,” he said, adding that Syria is in no position to preach, either.
The representative of Belarus, in right of reply, said nuclear safety and security requires efforts by every Government, as well as focused cooperation. Belarus has committed to the highest standards of nuclear and radiological safety since the outset of its nuclear programme and has worked in full transparency, she said, adding that nuclear security knows no borders. Having said that, excessive focus on nuclear security, done for show, especially on the part of neighbouring countries which have decided not to pursue nuclear power, often conceals political motives. Belarus has conducted voluntary stress tests of its nuclear power plant. “Our readiness to cooperate with our Lithuania partners on the operation of the Belarus Nuclear Power Plant is well known to Vilnius,” she said.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that his country has been guided by a tenet that “a nuclear war, in which there can be no winners and which should never be launched, is unacceptable”. Recalling Moscow’s decision to revoke the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), he added: “The Russian Federation does not intend to be first to conduct a nuclear test. However, if the United States conducts one, so will we.”
The representative of Japan, noting that his Government and IAEA are conducting monitoring of the water treated through the Advanced Liquid Processing System, said that no anomalies have been recorded. Japan will continue to provide the monitoring results in a timely manner, he added.
The representative of Ukraine, in response to the statement delivered by the representative of the Russian Federation, said that the referenda to which the Russian speaker referred to have not been recognized by the international community. “These referenda are nothing else than a propaganda show,” he stated. Ukraine has every right to restore its territorial integrity by military and diplomatic means. “We will continue to liberate the temporarily occupied territories in Ukraine,” he said. The root cause of the challenge and the risk to Ukraine’s nuclear safety and security is the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The representative of Iran rejected the baseless allegations made against his country by the Israeli regime. The bloodshed and indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza must be stopped with humanitarian aid delivered without hindrance. It is regrettable that a regime that is not party to any relevant international treaties and conventions allows itself to comment on the Member States of those treaties. The Israeli regime has no eligibility “to point its finger at us”. He strongly condemned the regime's threat to use nuclear weapons against Gaza. The regime refuses to join legally binding international agreements banning weapons of mass destruction. “It is high time to stop this lawlessness.” On another note, he rejected the European Union’s statement against his country and urges those who have collectively or individually expressed unacceptable statements on Iran's peaceful nuclear programme and the JCPOA to reconsider their biased positions.
The delegate of Syria, speaking in right of reply, categorially rejected the statement by the Israeli, who does not seem to know the bloody history of the entity they represent. They were the first ones to use biological and chemical weapons in the Middle East, and today, they are using internationally banned arms, phosphorous and napalm, in their continuous aggression and attacks against the Palestinian people. They are not in a place to give lessons when it comes to complying with international legal obligations. “The Israeli entity is the only one in the Middle East who has a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction with no international monitoring,” he said, adding that they have rejected and ignored calls to join those non-proliferation instruments for years. This entity’s ownership of mass destruction weapons poses a threat to the region, he said, adding that they are the main reason for the instability.
The representative of Lithuania, speaking in right of reply, responded to the statement of Belarus, saying today’s debate is an appropriate place to raise awareness about the operation of the nuclear power plant which has broader implications in terms of safety and security. “We are deeply troubled by the evident absence of safety culture and the deficit of transparency and openness,” he said. He expressed concern that, a week ago, Belarus started commercial and industrial operation of unit 2 of the Belarussian nuclear power plant, despite unresolved safety issues. Since the start of the Belarussian project, Belarus has not provided two important pieces of information: how it selected the site for the plant, and whether and how it assessed the distribution and density of the population of neighbouring countries. This latter assessment, in line with IAEA safety standards, is essential for emergency preparedness, he said, adding that any radiological incident could impact a third of the Lithuanian population.