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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN atomic agency chief spotlights uranium fuel bank, Fukushima in report to governing body

8 June 2015 – A new report on the 2011 nuclear accident in eastern Japan's Fukushima area and two agreements related to the establishment of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reserve of low enriched uranium were among the key points highlighted by Director General Yukiya Amano to the Agency's Board of Governors today.

The preparation of the report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, which is scheduled to be made public at the IAEA General Conference this September, involved some 180 experts from 42 IAEA Member States and several other organizations.

"The report represents an authoritative, factual and balanced assessment of what happened at Fukushima Daiichi that should also be accessible for a non-technical audience," Mr Amano said in his opening remarks .

"There can be no grounds for complacency about nuclear safety in any country. Some of the factors that contributed to the Fukushima Daiichi accident were not unique to Japan," the Director General added.

"Continuous questioning and openness to learning from experience are key to safety culture and are essential for everyone involved in nuclear power. Safety must always come first."

The Director General also highlighted two key agreements submitted for the Board's approval: a Host State Agreement between the IAEA and Kazakhstan on the establishment of an IAEA low enriched uranium bank (LEU) in that country; and a draft Transit Agreement between the Agency and Russia that will permit the IAEA to transport LEU through Russia to and from the IAEA LEU Bank. The Bank will provide fuel for Member States in case they cannot obtain low enriched uranium for nuclear power generation on the global commercial market.

"IAEA projects make an important contribution to helping countries achieve their development goals," Mr. Amano said. He also announced that the IAEA will support Nepal's Government in enhancing the safety of public places in areas affected by the recent earthquakes.

In anticipation of the UN climate change conference in Paris at the end of the year, Mr. Amano highlighted the contribution nuclear power can make in combating that phenomenon. He underlined the work the Agency does for countries that have nuclear power or are considering introducing it, helping them with training and sharing of expertise.

Mr. Amano also announced that the 'ReNuAL 'project to modernize the eight IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, begun last year, had made further progress.

"We expect to begin infrastructure work by September," he said, appealing to Member States to contribute funding so that the project could be completed as planned by the end of 2017.

Mr. Amano also welcomed Djibouti as the 164th Member State of the IAEA.

Aside from the report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident and the agreements on the IAEA LEU Bank, the 35-nation Board of Governors will discuss the IAEA Annual Report and the Technical Cooperation Report for 2014; the Safeguards Implementation Report for 2014; and the implementation of safeguards in Iran, Syria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Mr. Amano said that he remained "seriously concerned" about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). "It is now more than six years since Agency inspectors were asked to leave the DPRK. Nevertheless, the Agency maintains its readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme," he added.

He called on the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in implementing its NPT Safeguards Agreement, and to resolve all outstanding issues.

Concerning safeguards implementation in Iran, he said that the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

"If requested, the IAEA is ready to undertake monitoring and verification of the nuclear-related measures to be agreed under the Plan, subject to the endorsement of the Board of Governors and the availability of resources. In order to help make the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action technically sound, the Agency has been engaging closely with both Iran and the E3+3 countries (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany).

Conclusion of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that includes implementation by Iran of the Additional Protocol will strengthen safeguards implementation in Iran and significantly increase the Agency's ability to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in the country. Other measures in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are expected to provide additional assurance.

"I am confident that the clarification of issues with possible military dimensions is possible within a reasonable timeframe if Iran implements the measures envisaged in the Lausanne announcement," Mr. Amano said.

The Agency remains ready to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues under the Framework for Co-operation. This can be realised by increased co-operation by Iran and by the timely provision of access to all relevant information, documentation, sites, material and personnel in Iran.

Concerning the implementation of safeguards in the Syrian Arab Republic, there have been no significant developments since my last statement to the Board. "I renew my call to Syria to cooperate fully with us in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations," he said.

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