Statement by the Group of 77 and China during the Board of Governors of the IAEA starting on 7 March 2016, delivered by the Chairman of the Group of 77, H.E. Ambassador Simon Madjumo Maruta, Permanent Representative of Namibia
Agenda Item 2: Strengthening the Agency’s activities related to nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety (a) Nuclear Safety Review 2016
1. The Group thanks the Secretariat for preparing the Nuclear Safety Review 2016, as contained in document GOV/2016/2. The Group thanks the Director General for his introductory statement, as well as Deputy Director-General Juan Carlos Lentijo for his remarks and for the technical briefing offered to Member States on 22 February. (not to be read)
2. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China under this agenda item.
3. The Group would like to make the following comments in relation to this important report, which identifies significant nuclear safety trends in 2015 as well as the Agency’s efforts to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework and to address the challenges in this area.
4. While the Group recognizes that the primary responsibility for nuclear safety rests with each Member State, it believes that the Agency has an important role to promote nuclear safety worldwide. Furthermore, the Group reiterates the centrality of the Agency in light of the wealth of experience and expertise acquired in the field of nuclear safety. In this regard, the Group is pleased to note that the global nuclear community continued to make steady progress in improving nuclear safety in 2015. This is in line with the principle steadfastly held by the Group that improved nuclear safety measures should be used to enhance the development and utilization of nuclear technology for peaceful uses.
5. The Group appreciates 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 continue this practice.
6. The Group takes note of the Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), which took place in Vienna in February 2015. The Contracting Parties unanimously adopted the "Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety", which aims to strengthen nuclear safety worldwide through agreed principles to guide the Contracting Parties, as appropriate, in the implementation of the objective of the CNS in preventing accidents with radiological consequences and mitigating such consequences should they occur. The Group further notes the decisions of Contracting Parties in the Vienna Declaration. The Group notes in this regard the informal technical meeting held in Buenos Aires on 16 – 17 Nov 2015, on how to improve CNS reporting on the basis of the Vienna Declaration.
7. The Group welcomes the Director General’s fourth and final annual report entitled Progress in the Implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and its supplement released in September 2015. This report informs Member States of the results of the systematic review of safety requirements applicable to nuclear power plants as well as provides the analysis of the technical aspects of the Fukushima Daiichi accident and disseminates lessons learned to the wider nuclear community. The Group further welcomes the release of the Director General’s report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident along with five technical volumes at the 59th Session of the General Conference. These documents are instrumental in assisting Member States in the strengthening of nuclear safety at all levels.
8. With regard to the Agency’s safety standards, the Group notes the progress made in 2015 in reviewing and revising these standards that cover the areas of regulatory frameworks, site evaluation, design safety, safety assessment, radiation protection, transport safety, waste safety, and human factors. The Group also welcomes the establishment of a new Emergency Preparedness and Response Standards Committee under the Commission of Safety Standards in March 2015. The Group reaffirms its support to the work of the Committee and the Commission.
9. On the improvement of radiation, transport and waste safety, the Group is pleased with the Agency’s contribution in response to Member States’ growing demands of assistance in the areas of radiation protection, control of radioactive sources, and oversight of transporting radioactive material, waste management, capacity building and regulatory effectiveness. The Group also welcomes the Agency’s assistance provided to Member States in their efforts to develop or enhance their national safety regulatory infrastructures. The Group further welcomes the Agency's continued efforts to assist Member States in establishing and strengthening regulatory and technical frameworks as well as building necessary capacity for the safe decommissioning of nuclear facilities. The Group encourages the Agency to continue to provide such assistance to Member States, focusing on those areas which can contribute effectively towards sustainable capacity building.
10. With regard to strengthening safety in nuclear installations, the Group appreciates the wide range of activities organized by the Agency in providing peer review services to Member States, upon request, to assess safety of nuclear installations, research reactors, and fuel cycle facilities as well as to review regulatory effectiveness, infrastructure development programmes, and ageing management, among others. The Group stresses the importance of regular evaluation of operational readiness and operating experience management with the aim of prevention of nuclear safety events. The Group also appreciates the Agency in regularly organizing national, regional, and international workshops and training courses for Member States on all relevant issues.
11. Concerning the issue of newcomers, the Group recognises that over thirty countries, many of which are G-77 countries, are considering or are embarking on nuclear power programmes. With regard to ongoing challenges to the introduction of nuclear power in newcomer countries, the Group is pleased to note that, as in previous years, the Agency has continued to provide assistance to newcomer countries in the fields such as site selection and evaluation, the establishment of sound and well-functioning regulatory frameworks, and capacity building.
12. The Group wishes to emphasize that the development of human resources and up scaling their knowledge and capabilities are key to the establishment, safety and sustainability of any nuclear program. Therefore, it is essential that the IAEA continues to provide assistance, upon request, to developing countries in the fields of knowledge sharing, exchange of information, collaboration platforms, nuclear knowledge management and capacity building in nuclear safety. In this regard, the Group notes the development of an online database to map planned and completed capacity building activities.
13. Concerning the Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network (GNSSN), the Group notes the addition of the ‘Small Modular Reactor Regulators’ Forum’ into the GNSSN. Knowledge networks should always remain a core component of the nuclear safety capacity building initiatives with the support of the Agency. The Group appreciates the Agency’s continued support to regional networks, which include 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. The Group further welcomes the cooperation between the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies of Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM) and the Agency.
14. As stated in the IAEA 2011 Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, 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 Secretariat to maintain its facilitating role in this regard. Although all of the planned activities under the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety were completed in 2015, the Group expresses its support for the Agency’s work in appropriately incorporating and integrating follow-up activities resulting from the Action Plan in the relevant departmental programmes . The Group requests the Secretariat report periodically to the Board of Governors, in accordance with section 3 of Resolution GC.59/RES/9.
15. With regard to the issue of emergency preparedness and response, the Group notes with satisfaction the Agency’s contribution in strengthening national and regional emergency preparedness and response as well as promoting effective public communication during emergencies. The Group also supports the greater utilization of USIE emergency communication platform and the greater engagement in ConvEx exercises. Despite the meaningful work done by the Agency in this field, the Group notes that many challenges remain. The Group encourages the continued cooperation and coordination between the Secretariat and interested Member States to overcome these challenges, thereby strengthening the capabilities of Member States in emergency preparedness and response.
16. Regarding the nuclear safety and security interface, the Group takes note of the Agency’s efforts to continue to strengthen this issue. The Group acknowledges certain key improvements in this regard, including greater attention to the linkages between nuclear safety and security during the Agency’s preparation of the publications of nuclear safety standards and nuclear security guidance, as well as enhanced regulatory oversight of safety and security over disused radioactive sources to ensure against both accidents and malicious acts. The Group takes note of the Agency’s continuing efforts in this regard, and encourages the Agency to continue supporting the participation of experts from developing countries in these areas.
17. The Group notes the entry into force of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation in April 2015. The Group also notes the call in the IAEA Action Plan on Member States to work towards establishing a global nuclear liability regime.
18. 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. 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.
19. With these remarks, the Group takes note of the Nuclear Safety Review 2016, as contained in document GOV/2016/2.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Agenda item 3(a): Nuclear Technology Review 2016
1. The Group of 77 and China would like to express its appreciation to the Secretariat for preparing the Nuclear Technology Review 2016, contained in document GOV/2016/3.
2. The Group also wishes to thank the DDG Mr. Aldo Malavasi and DDG Mr Mikhail Chudakov for introducing this item and for the technical briefing provided to delegations on 22 February 2016.
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 2015 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 to enhance their capabilities 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 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 nuclear power is an important option for many countries, as part of their current and future energy mix and that the interest of the countries considering the introduction of nuclear power remains strong especially among developing countries with growing energy needs. The Group therefore encourages the Agency to enhance its assistance to developing countries. The Group further notes the role played by nuclear power in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its contribution to addressing climate change issues and to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Group requests the Agency to continue undertaking studies on projecting the balanced perspective on the long term economic and environmental impact of Nuclear Power.
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, 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. The Group welcomes the conduct of INIR missions in 2015 in Kenya, Morocco and Nigeria.
7. The Group appreciates the comprehensive compilation of the developments in the area of Advanced Fission and also the activities being undertaken in this area. The Group notes the growing interest in Small and Medium-Sized or Modular 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 and their overall cost-effectiveness.
8. The Group appreciates the update on the evolution of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project and is pleased to note the completion of the first floor of Tokomak complex. 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.
9. The Group continues to attach 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 and encourages the Agency to continue its support for these important activities. The Group welcomes the growing interest of Member States in INPRO and welcomes the accession of Thailand to INPRO.
10. 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.
11. The Group 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 nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, including national nuclear fuel cycles, is duly respected. In view of, inter alia, the fact that assurance of supply arrangements approved by the Board of Governors have either not been completed or not been used, the Group is of the opinion that it would be inappropriate or at least premature to refer to a so-called ‘assurance of supply framework’. In this regards, the Group requests that the first part of the second sentence in paragraph four of the Executive Summary of the report be deleted.
12. 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.
13. The Group highlights the importance of research reactors to interested Member States for research and various applications, including education and training, and calls for enhanced international cooperation to maximise their efficient use while noting that the efforts in this direction continue to grow. The Group urges the Agency to assist interested Member States in addressing issues related to ageing management and underutilization of research reactors, and to assist interested Member States building or planning to build new ones. The Group encourages the Agency to continue its work of facilitation of regional networks and coalitions to help foster international cooperation and enable research reactors to expand their stakeholder and user communities.
14. The Group attaches great importance to the significant contributions that nuclear technologies can make towards attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, their role in food security and safety; nutrition and human health, including disease prevention and control; animal health and production; 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.
15. The Group accordingly attaches great value to the role of the Agency’s Nuclear Applications laboratories at Seibersdorf, which have assisted Member States in enhancing their access to the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies since 1962. The Group calls on all Member States in a position to do so, to provide the appropriate support for renovation and the upgrading of the Seibersdorf Laboratories.
16. The Group values the Agency's assistance to Member States, especially to developing countries, in the field of medical and industrial applications. The Group is appreciative of the Agency’s contribution to improving cancer management worldwide, through, inter alia, the development and application of nuclear techniques, The Group notes that these nuclear techniques play an important role in the treatment and control of cancer in Member States through the Programme of Action of Cancer Therapy (PACT).
17. The Group notes that there were no major supply shortages of the medical isotope molybdenum-99 during 2015. 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 and feasible.
18. The Group appreciates the comprehensive update on Advances in medical imaging technology, and notes that body composition assessment allows the quantification of parameters such as fat mass, lean soft tissue mass, fat percentage and bone mineral density, as well as specific organ and tissue masses, including adipose, muscle and visceral mass. These technologies are of great interest to countries in the Group.
19. Mosquito-borne diseases are a global threat to human health and well-being. As acknowledged by the World Health Organization, additional methods of mosquito control are urgently needed. Since the gains made in this area so far are endangered by unstable resource availability, growing resistance to the available tools, and changes in the behavior of mosquito vectors, all of which make them harder to target, the Group therefore urges IAEA to continue working towards further development of the technologies needed to control mosquito borne diseases.
20. With these remarks, the Group of 77 and China takes note of the Nuclear Technology Review 2016, as contained in document GOV/2016/3.
Thank you Chairman.
Agenda item 3 (b) Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf
1. The Group thanks the Secretariat for document GOV/INF/2016/4 on the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf and for convening the informal technical briefing on this issue.
2. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China under this agenda item. As indicated in the presentation by the Secretariat, the ReNuAl project has reached a very critical milestone in its development. The planning phase has almost been completed and the construction phase is expected to start very soon.
3. As Member States may be aware, the quickest and most cost-efficient schedule for the building construction would be to commence with both buildings in June 2016. The resources presently available will allow for the construction of only one building to begin in June 2016 along with the remaining site infrastructure. The construction of the second building still requires €6.5 million to be made available.
4. In this regard, Mr Chairman, we would like to sincerely thank the 21 Member States that have already made concrete contributions amounting to approximately €14,1 million extra budgetary resources to the ReNuAl project. We also appreciate the in-kind pledges or contributions made by Member States.
5. The urgency of achieving full funding for ReNuAl and the implementation of the maximum possible project is also necessitated, because of outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses. This new challenge and other unexpected future challenges further strengthen the rationale for the ReNuAl project, and in particular, the construction of a new Insect Pest Control Laboratory (IPCL). With a new, fit-for-purpose IPCL and additional resources for expanded insect pest control activities, the Agency will be better equipped to assist Member States in responding to such challenges in the future.
6. In this regard, Mr. Chairman, we would like to call on Member States in a position to do so to continue to support this project and make funds available for the remaining €6.5 million in extrabudgetary funds that are still required to fully fund the project to enable the construction of the two buildings to begin as scheduled.
7. The Group also acknowledges the role of the Friends of ReNuAL for their efforts and support to this project and thanks the Austrian Government for letting the Agency use the BSL-3 facility at Mödling to implement the support activities to assist Member States in the control of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Agenda Item 4: Strengthening regional capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean for integrated vector management approaches with a sterile insect technique component, to control Aedes mosquitoes as vectors of human pathogens, particularly Zika virus
1. The Group thanks the Secretariat for the technical briefing offered to Member States on 25 February.
2. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China under this agenda item.
3. The Group wishes to acknowledge the proposed Technical Cooperation Project on "Strengthening Regional Capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean for Integrated Vector Management Approaches with a Sterile Insect Technique Component, to Control Aedes Mosquitoes as Vectors of Human Pathogens, particularly Zika Virus", as contained in document GOV/2016/12.
4. This project has the potential to contribute, in an important and effective manner, to strengthening national capacities to fight this large-scale outbreak linked to birth malformations and neurological syndromes that have also led the WHO to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
5. The Group notes that very little is known about the virus - which has spread across the world last year- and that it is clinically difficult to diagnose. According to WHO there are more reasons for concern, such as potential for further international spread due to the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector, lack of population immunity; the absence of vaccines and efficient and inexpensive treatments. Against this backdrop, the Group acknowledges that population control of the insect vector is one of the most effective ways of managing Zika and related virus diseases like dengue and chikungunya, while bearing in mind that the sterile insect technique has been successfully used, on a large scale, by the IAEA and FAO to control agriculturally important insect pests.
6. The Group notes that the countries affected are facing significant economic and social impact, and this will require all efforts to overcome this crisis. In this regard, the Group encourages the IAEA to continue contributing to efforts to address this disease outbreak. Technical cooperation and international collaboration through strong and effective multilateral systems will be indispensable way moving forward.
7. The Group of 77 and China supports the recommended actions, contained in GOV/2016/12.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Agenda item 5: Medium Term Strategy 2018-2023
1. On behalf of the Group of 77 and China, I wish to thank Ambassador Bahtihjors Hasans of Latvia for chairing the discussions of the open-ended working group on the preparation of the Medium-Term Strategy for 2018-2023. We look forward to contribute to the initial draft of the new MTS, with the expectation that it will provide guidance to the Secretariat in designing programs and undertaking its activities for the subsequent program and budget cycles.
2. As in the past, the Group attaches great importance to the process of preparing the MTS for the next cycle, and will again actively participate and articulate its concerns and expectations in the deliberations of the working group.
3. The Group maintains that the MTS for the next cycle must be consistent with the Statute of the Agency and be based on the expectations of its Member States, taking into account the needs of developing countries. The future MTS should also draw upon the important lessons learned from the implementation of the current strategy. The Group, however, reiterates that the MTS should be flexible enough to be able to adapt to new developments, and the changing needs and priorities of Member States in its implementation.
4. The Group would like to highlight that the new MTS should reflect an appropriate balance between the Agency's promotional and non-promotional activities. The G-77 and China recalls the Agency’s statutory objective "to seek to accelerate and enlarge the contributions of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world", and underlines that the IAEA is the only international organization with the technical competence and expertise to fulfil this objective. Considering that the activities under Major Programs 1, 2 and 6 are of paramount importance in fulfilling this statutory mandate, the Group maintains that the activities under these programs should be accorded adequate financial and political support to enable the Agency to respond to the increasing requests of Member States, including in contributing to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
5. The Group also reiterates that the new MTS should have an even broader emphasis on the enhancement of the Technical Cooperation Program in order to reflect its due importance as the main statutory vehicle of the Agency for transferring nuclear technology for socio-economic progress to meet the growing demands of Member States. This statutory responsibility of the Agency can only be fulfilled if the resources for the TC Programme are Sufficient, Assured and Predictable (SAP).
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Item 8: Personnel matters: Follow-up to decisions on personnel matters taken up by the United Nations General Assembly
1. The Group of 77 and China thanks the Director General for his report in document GOV/2016/7 containing proposals for changes to the current base/floor salary scale for staff members in the professional and higher categories on a no loss /no gain basis, as well as for a necessary amendment to Staff Regulation 9.03 to change the title of the ‘Assignment Grant’ to ‘Settling-in Grant’.
2. The Group notes that the suggested changes are proposed in light of the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/244 which considered the report of the International Civil Service Commission for the year 2015. The UN General Assembly approved an increase of 1.08% in the base/floor salary scale UN staff members in the professional and higher categories in order to bring their salary scale into line with the comparator, the United States Federal Civil Service.
3. The Group notes that utilizing the revised net based salary scale for repatriation grant payments will mean additional cost of € 33,000 to the Agency in 2016, which will be absorbed within available resources.
4. On this basis, the Group supports the recommended actions contained in the report GOV/2016/7.