Statement of the G-77 and China during the IAEA Board of Governors
Meeting 3-7 March 2014 delivered by H.E. Ambassador Aliyar Lebbe Abdul AZEEZ, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
Agenda Item 3: Strengthening the Agency’s activities related to nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety (a) Nuclear Safety Review 2014
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the G-77 and China under this agenda item.
2. The Group of 77 and China thanks the Director General for his introductory statement, as well as Deputy Director-General Denis Flory for his remarks and for the technical briefing offered to Member States on 17 February.
3. The Group would like to make the following comments in relation to this important document:
4. While the Group recognizes that the primary responsibility for nuclear safety rests within the Member States, it believes that the Agency has an important role to play in this field, as provided for in Article III of the IAEA Statute. Furthermore, the Group is of the view that the Agency must retain its centrality, in light of the wealth of experience and expertise acquired by it in the field of nuclear safety. In this regard, the Group is pleased to note the observation contained in paragraph 2 of the Nuclear Safety Review that the global nuclear community has made robust and steady progress in strengthening nuclear safety in 2013, in line with the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and as reported in the documents referred to in paragraph 2 of the Nuclear Safety Review 2014.
5. The Group welcomes the Agency’s continuing efforts to promote nuclear safety worldwide, and steadfastly upholds the principle that improved nuclear safety measures should be used to enhance the development and utilization of nuclear technology for peaceful uses.
6. The Group recognises that, as reported in paragraph 8 of the document under consideration, by the end of 2013 over thirty countries—many of which are G-77 countries—were considering or embarking on nuclear power programmes. The Group notes that challenges to the introduction to nuclear power to newcomer countries remain, and that these challenges need to be addressed. The Group is pleased to note that, as in previous years, the Agency has continued to provide assistance to newcomer countries in fields such as the establishment of sound, well-functioning regulatory frameworks, by means of, inter alia, national and regional workshops and self-assessment tools. The Group encourages the Agency to enhance its programmes to assist interested Member States to meet these challenges.
7. The Group appreciates the various activities organized by the Agency to keep Member States informed of developments relating to nuclear safety, such as the technical briefings and the periodic reports with updated information. The Group encourages the Agency to keep Member States fully and regularly informed of all relevant safety-related developments.
8. As stated in the IAEA Action Plan, the responsibility for ensuring the application of the highest standards of nuclear safety and for providing a timely, transparent and adequate response to nuclear emergencies lies with each Member State and operating organization. Vendors of nuclear technologies also have a responsibility to ensure that users have access to all information and resources necessary for safe operation. As stated in the Action Plan, its success in strengthening nuclear safety rests on the full cooperation and participation of Member States and relevant stakeholders. The Group calls upon the Agency to maintain its facilitating role in this regard.
9. On a related note, the Group highlights the central role that the Agency has to play in the exchange of information with a view to enhancing the capabilities of experts from developing countries in the review and revision, as appropriate, of IAEA safety standards.
10. The Group notes that the Agency offers many peer review services, upon request, inter alia, for assessment of safety of nuclear installation, research reactors, regulation, fuel cycle facilities, design, decommissioning and for the assessment of infrastructure development program. The Group takes note of the fact that, under the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), a new module was developed in 2013 for newcomer countries, which has been added to the IRRS Guidelines.
11. The Group notes the substantive progress made in 2013 in the review of Document Preparation Profiles (DPP) for the IAEA Safety Standards Series and the IAEA Nuclear Security Series publications, through the establishment of the Interface Group, and takes note of its relevant findings. The Group encourages the Secretariat to continue to support the participation of experts from developing countries in the work of the Nuclear Security Guidance Committee (NSGC) and the Interface Group.
12. The development of human resources is the key to the sustainability of any nuclear program. Therefore, it is essential that the IAEA continues to provide assistance to developing countries in the fields of knowledge sharing, exchange of information, collaboration platforms, nuclear knowledge management and capacity building in nuclear safety.
13. The Group acknowledges the work of the Agency through its Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network (GNSSN). Knowledge networks should always remain a core component of the nuclear safety capacity building initiatives provided by the Agency. We concur with the Agency in that the sharing of knowledge, expertise and results, at both regional and national levels, is a positive drive in the enhancement of global nuclear safety. The Group welcomes the support given by the IAEA to regional networks such as the Arab Network of Nuclear Regulators, the Asian Nuclear Safety Network, the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa, and the Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies.
14. The Group notes with concern the ageing of research reactors, their prolonged shutdown due to ageing-related failures, and the subsequent risk of shortages of radioisotopes used for medical applications and spiralling of prices. The Group requests the Secretariat to keep Member States informed on developments in relation to this sensitive issue.
15. While acknowledging the work done by the Agency in the field of emergency preparedness and response in 2013, the Group notes that many challenges remain. The Group encourages the continued cooperation and coordination between the Agency and interested Member States to overcome these challenges, thereby strengthening the capabilities of Member States in emergency preparedness and response.
16. Regarding regulatory infrastructure and effectiveness, the Group welcomes the assistance provided by the Agency to Member States in their efforts to develop or enhance their national regulatory infrastructures, in areas such as the elaboration of national strategies for education and training in radiation, transport and waste safety. The Group encourages the Agency to continue to provide this type of assistance to Member States, focusing on those areas which can contribute effectively towards sustainable capacity building.
17. Under the section of the NSR pertaining to radiation protection, waste and transport safety, the Group takes note of the important aspects highlighted by the Agency in the area of radiation protection for patients, workers and the public. The Group is concerned over the fact that, on an issue which became the focus of heightened attention after the accident in Fukushima as is the radioactive contamination of food and drinking water, there are several international standards in use. The Group welcomes the Agency’s efforts to address this, including the discussion paper it developed together with the competent organs of the United Nations and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and with the participation of technical consultants from Member States, outlining possible steps to facilitate the recognition, understanding and implementation of international standards. The Group strongly encourages the Agency to continue its work in this area of paramount importance and, in this regard, is pleased to note that it will prepare a Technical Document building on this discussion paper and addressing issues on radioactive contamination of food and drinking water for existing post-emergency exposure situations.
18. On safe decommissioning of nuclear facilities, the Group welcomes the Agency's continued efforts to assist Member States in establishing regulatory and technical frameworks for the safe decommissioning of nuclear facilities, as well as for increasing the competencies and capacities of the staff involved in these activities.
19. The Group continues to express its concern over the fact that, despite international efforts, denials and delays of shipments of radioactive sources continue to occur worldwide. The Group notes that, following the final meeting of the International Steering Committee, in 2013, the Denials Working Group was formed to continue working towards resolving this critical issue. This issue can only be solved through concerted efforts. More information about the handling of radioactive sources is required, and effective communication with the transport personnel and authorities of Member States continues to be an essential tool. We urge the Secretariat to persist in its efforts with a view to facilitating a solution.
20. With these remarks, the Group takes note of the Nuclear Safety Review for 2014, as contained in document GOV/2014/6.
Agenda Item 3: Strengthening the Agency’s activities related to nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety (b) Implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety
1. The Group of 77 and China would like to thank the Secretariat for its continued update on the progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. The Group also thanks the Secretariat for the technical briefing provided to delegations on Monday 17 February, and Deputy Director General Flory for his introductory remarks under this agenda item.
2. The Group is committed to supporting all the Agency activities that strengthen global nuclear safety. As has been said by the Group on previous occasions, the purpose of enhancing nuclear safety should be to positively contribute to the development and utilization of nuclear technology for peaceful uses. The Agency should orient its programme in this regard.
3. The Group underscores the importance of the revision of the Agency's broad range of assistance and support services to Member States to take into account the lessons from Fukushima.
4. The Group notes with appreciation the Agency’s activities in connection with the implementation of the Plan since the last update, provided in August 2013, and also acknowledges the report on the IAEA's Assessment and Prognosis in Response to an Emergency at a Nuclear Power Plant, issued as document GOV/INF/2013/13. The Group further notes that the Secretariat continues to facilitate learning the lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident and sharing them with Member States in all relevant areas covered by the Action Plan.
5. While the Group appreciates the information provided during the aforementioned technical briefing on costs incurred in the implementation of the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, the Secretariat still has to provide information on cost implications of the prospective activities falling under the Plan, especially with regard to the proposed biennial budget and on other future activities of the Agency. The Group reiterates its call on the Secretariat to provide this information in its future reports, instead of it being provided in a fragmentary manner in the context of technical briefings.
6. While the Group notes the progress made by the Agency in coordination with Member States, among others, to improve the Agency’s voluntary peer review services, public information and enhance transparency and communication during emergency situations, continued efforts need to be made to ensure more effective communication in the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency.
7. The Group welcomes the workshop held by the Secretariat at the Agency’s Response Assistance Network (RANET) capacity building centre in Fukushima City, Japan, in October 2013, to help build the capacity of Asian and Pacific Region Member States to prepare for, and respond to, a nuclear or radiological emergency. The Group attaches high importance to training in radiation monitoring and environmental sampling, and encourages the Secretariat to pursue this type of training activities on a regular basis.
8. The Group further welcomes the publication by the Secretariat of the IAEA Report on Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency in the Light of the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which emphasized the importance of strengthening EPR arrangements and capabilities at all levels and the importance of identifying and clearly allocating the functions and responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders. This type of publications is useful reference material for Member States in the strengthening of their EPR capabilities. The Group encourages the further publication of such reference material.
9. The Group also welcomes the publication by the Secretariat, in September 2013, of a comprehensive catalogue of services to support Member States in the introduction of a new nuclear power programme. It is important that, as more Member States explore, embark upon or expand their interests in nuclear energy, the Agency enhances its programs of assistance to Member States requesting it in the process of development or expansion of their nuclear power programme.
10. In this spirit, the Group is pleased to note that the Secretariat has developed and made available to Member States a new set of e-learning modules aimed at improving newcomers’ understanding of the infrastructure requirements for a nuclear power programme.
11. We would also like to highlight relevant activities that took place in countries of our Group during the reporting period, as part of the efforts to strengthen and maintain capacity-building: the regional workshop on management in nuclear knowledge and safety competence in September 2013 in China; the regional workshop on knowledge safety networks in October 2013 in Kenya; the workshop on building capacity in nuclear safety through knowledge and quality management process in November 2013in Brazil; as well as the regional workshops on the establishment of national policy and strategy for safety, and on the systematic assessment of regulatory competence needs, both in November 2013, in Indonesia.
12. Lastly, the Group further notes that the Secretariat is progressing with the preparation of the IAEA Fukushima Report. The Group requests the Secretariat for clarification as to the expected date of finalization of this important document, initially intended to be concluded this year. While stressing the importance of maintaining thorough consideration and careful drafting in light of the highly technical nature of this report, the Group cautions against a protracted process which could hinder its relevance as the authoritative reference document expected by Member States on this crucial matter. In this regard, the Group urges the Secretariat to inform Member States on a regular basis on the progress achieved in the preparation of this report, and to seek comments from Member States before its issuance, with a view to having the feedback thus provided duly reflected in this important document.
13. With these remarks, the Group takes note of the Director General's report on the “Progress in the Implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety” as contained in document GOV/INF/2014/2 and Corrigendum 1.
Agenda Item 4: Strengthening the Agency's activities related to nuclear science, technology and applications: Nuclear Technology Review - 2014
1. The Group of 77 and China would like to express its appreciation to the Secretariat for preparing the Nuclear Technology Review 2014, contained in document GOV/2014/5 and Corrigendum 1, as well as for the additional documentation associated with it, on the role of nuclear knowledge management and on nuclear power and climate change.
2. The Group also wishes to thank Mr. Alexander Bychkov and Mr. Daud Mohamad for introducing this item in the agenda of the Board of Governors, and for the technical briefing provided to delegations on 21 February.
3. The Group of 77 and China considers the Nuclear Technology Review (NTR) a useful document as it provides a comprehensive update on the progress achieved in nuclear power and nuclear applications during the reporting period. The year 2013 saw many developments in these areas. In this regard, the Group would like to make the following comments:
4. The work done by the Agency in nuclear power and nuclear applications highlights the need to increase the transfer of nuclear technology and the sharing of nuclear knowledge to developing countries so as to enhance the capabilities of the latter and thus contribute to maximize the benefit of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The Group urges the Agency to continue to provide training and education, to support national laboratories and to further enhance the coordinated research activities. The Group also welcomes the contributions made by Member States to various Agency projects, and encourages all Member States in a position to do so to continue providing such support through the Agency.
5. The Group notes that, as recognised by the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century held in June 2013, nuclear power remains an important option for many countries, as part of their current and future energy mix. The Group further notes that, in spite of a slight decrease in the projections for 2013 vis-à-vis those of 2012—the interest of countries considering the introduction of nuclear power has remained strong—especially among developing countries with growing energy needs. It is important that the Agency enhances its assistance to developing countries in this regard.
6. The Group urges the Agency to continue to assist interested Member States to analyse energy options and to prepare for the introduction of nuclear power or uranium production, while maintaining its leading role in the promotion of the transfer and development of technology and knowledge related to peaceful nuclear applications, including nuclear power and the nuclear fuel cycle. The Agency’s Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions provide a useful service in extending this type of cooperation to Member States.
7. The Group attaches high importance to the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO), as a relevant forum gathering technology holders and users with the aim of achieving innovations in nuclear reactors and fuel cycles. The Group welcomes the growing interest of Member States in INPRO, and celebrates the accession of Kenya in 2013.
8. The Group reiterates its expression of interest in the work of various technical working groups under the auspices of the Agency in the development of nuclear technology and in the dissemination of knowledge to Member States, inter alia, through Coordinated Research Projects.
9. Under Section B of the NTR—Advanced Fission and Fusion—the Group notes the growing interest in Small and Medium-Sized Reactors (SMRs), and their potential benefit as a source of power generation, especially for Member States having relatively isolated communities or otherwise limited electrical grids; as well as their successful use in seawater desalination and their overall cost-effectiveness, as demonstrated through various projects in some Member States.
10. Under the same section, the Group observes with interest the evolution of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility and safety features of fusion energy in excess of 500 MW (megawatts) for peaceful purposes. The Group reiterates its expectation that, under the framework of their Cooperation Agreement, the Agency and the ITER Organization can effectively promote training, personnel exchanges, conferences, and publications on fusion components and installations, particularly for the benefit of developing countries.
11. Accelerators and research reactors play an important role in building strong basic capabilities in the nuclear field, and in supporting related education and training activities in Member States. The Group appreciates the support provided by the Secretariat in its coordination of projects supporting research, hands-on training and experimental work in the field of accelerators, and encourages it to continue to provide such support, especially by making use of built-in capacity in many countries.
12. The Group also notes that the interest of Member States in developing research reactor programmes has been steadily growing. The Group highlights the importance to interested Member States of research reactors for research and various applications, including education and training, and calls on enhanced international cooperation to maximise their efficient use. It urges the Agency to assist interested Member States in addressing issues related to ageing management and underutilisation of research reactors, and to assist those Member States building or planning to build new ones. The Group encourages the Agency to continue its work of facilitation of regional networks.
13. The Group attaches great importance to the significant contribution of nuclear technology to the Millennium Development Goals and to its role in food security and safety; nutrition and human health, including disease prevention and control; environmental protection; water resource management, as well as in the use of radioisotopes and radiation. These are the areas where nuclear and isotopic techniques are beneficial in supporting socio-economic development in many countries. The Group reaffirms that the Agency has a leading role to play in promotion of these techniques among interested Member States, and encourages it to continue to provide its valuable assistance.
14. The Group values the Agency's assistance to Member States, especially to developing countries, in the field of medical and industrial applications.
15. In the field of human health, the Group takes note of the application of nuclear techniques to improve cancer management worldwide, of the increasing demand to shift from conventional to digital imaging, and of the ensuing challenges to transition from one technology to the other—especially for developing countries. The Group requests the Agency to assist Member States, upon request, in finding methodologies appropriate for their needs and circumstances.
16. The Group also takes notes of the nuclear and nuclear-related technologies that can be developed and applied to bring about sustainable increases in livestock production and thereby contribute to sustainable food security, while mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gases emissions. The Group concurs with the Agency on the increasing importance of these two objectives, in a context of expanding human population, pressing demand for animal products, and unavoidable need for climate change mitigation. The Group welcomes the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture in the development and validation of information and technology packages to contribute to greenhouse gas mitigation on a global scale, and encourages it to continue to provide its valuable services.
17. The Group takes great interest in the processes related to applications of radiation technologies for the treatment of wastewater, sludge and other pollutants, in the emerging challenges that are likely to affect industry in the coming years, and the potential benefits of utilizing new applications to respond to these challenges, especially in developing countries. The Group requests the Agency to promote and facilitate further work in developing these applications.
18. With regard to supplies of molybdenum-99, the Group takes note of the abatement of the supply shortages that peaked between 2007 and 2010. However, the Group requests the Secretariat to remain vigilant on this important issue, with a view to ensuring the sustainability of radioisotope supplies, including through the enhancement of the utilization of existing reactors in developing countries and the development of alternative nuclear technologies, where appropriate.
19. The Group of 77 takes note of developments relating to the issue of assurance of supply, and reiterates once again its views and concerns expressed on this matter in its statements during the previous sessions of the Board, from 2009 onwards, which, inter alia, stated that any arrangement for assurance of supply shall be in full accordance with the Statute and take into account the respective legal obligations of Member States, as well as the principle of non-discrimination, whereby the inalienable right of Member States to get access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes is duly respected.
20. The Group expresses its support for the ReNuAL project and welcomes the progress made by the Agency in developing a strategic plan for the renovation of the Seibersdorf Laboratories. We call on all Member States to support the Agency’s efforts to meet the target date of September 2014 for the ground breaking for the renovations, as set by all Member States at the last General Conference in accordance with resolution GC/(57)/Res/12.
21. With these remarks, the Group of 77 and China takes note of the Nuclear Technology Review for 2014, as contained in document GOV/2014/5 and Corrigendum 1.