Board of Governors begins March deliberations

Today IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei opened a busy Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, by focusing on issues of nuclear safety and security, nuclear power, nuclear applications, verification of nuclear non-proliferation as well as the Agency´s programme and budget.

Nuclear Safety and Security. Dr. ElBaradei noted that work still needs to be done to strengthen nuclear safety and security worldwide. He said the IAEA must focus on improving the Incident and Emergency Centre to enhance its accident response capabilities, and to provide more effective support for Member States, especially for new entrants to nuclear power.

Nuclear Power. The Nuclear Technology Review indicates that expectations for the use of nuclear power continue to rise, with growth targets for nuclear power being raised in China and the Russian Federation. Asia remains the focus of growth in nuclear power. The Director General said, "The ending of restrictions on India´s nuclear trade should allow an acceleration of its planned expansion of nuclear power."

Dr. ElBaradei proceeded to outline plans for the establishment of non-political multinational mechanisms to assure access for all countries to nuclear fuel and reactor technology. He circulated, at the request of the Russian Federation, a proposal for a low enriched uranium reserve to be used by Member States. The proposal provides assured export licences and covers all long term costs.

The Director General also reported a positive response to the Nuclear Threat Initiative´s offer of $50 million for a low enriched uranium reserve, contingent on contributions of an additional $100 million by others. So far, contributions and pledges have been made by Norway ($5 million), the USA ($50 million), the United Arab Emirates ($10 million) and the European Union (€25 million).

"The ideal scenario would be to start with a nuclear fuel bank under IAEA auspices. The next step would be to agree that all new enrichment and reprocessing activities should be placed exclusively under multilateral control, to be followed by agreement to convert all existing facilities from national to multilateral control," said Dr. ElBaradei.

Non-proliferation. The Director General reported that "Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, or its work on heavy water related projects. Nor has Iran implemented the Additional Protocol. Iran has not permitted the Agency to perform the required design information verification at the IR-40 reactor currently under construction. Such access, together with the sampling of destroyed and salvaged equipment and debris, is essential for the Agency to complete its assessment"

Dr. ElBaradei also reported progress on the continuing investigation into the destruction of the Dair Alzour site in Syria. "Providing additional access to other locations alleged to be related to Dair Alzour would be a welcome sign of Syria´s transparency," he said. Such access, together with the sampling of destroyed and salvaged equipment and debris, is essential for the Agency to complete its assessment.

Nuclear Applications. The Director General highlighted the need for more international cooperation to ensure stable supplies of the important medical isotope, molybdenum-99, to meet growing world-wide demand.

Dr. ElBaradei also announced that "an agreement between the IAEA and the World Health Organization for a new Joint Programme on Cancer Control will be signed shortly."

He also expressed optimism that the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, which has been in danger of termination, will be "recognized as indispensable by our counterparts in Rome and will continue".

Programme and Budget. Dr. ElBaradei also urged Member States to give the recently-presented Agency´s Draft Programme and Budget 2010-2011 the "earnest consideration that it deserves."