The Group would like to thank the Director General and the Secretariat for the report on the "Safeguards analytical Laboratory: Sustaining Credible Safeguards" as contained in document GOV/2007/59, as well as the technical briefing on that matter on the 9th of November, 2007.
The Group reiterates its strong support for the Agency in upholding and maintaining its competence and enhancing its capabilities, and the objective of achieving and sustaining independence for the Agency's statutary activities which is necessary for the credibility of the Agency.
The Group notes the Secretariat's assessment that "the Agency's ability to provide independent and timely analysis of safeguards samples, one of the cornerstones of the safeguards regime, is at risk because of aging technical infrastructure and analytical equipment at the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory (SAL)".
The Group also notes the efforts of the Agency to identify and qualify new laboratories to serve as backup for SAL. We are of the view that the Agency should encourage and assist developing Member States in creating such facilities to share the work of SAL.
In this context, the Group would like to state as follows:
i. The Group was, by and large, and for whatever reasons, not part of the Workshop of Technical Experts conducted in November 2006 on this issue.
ii. The Board has very recently gone through negotiations on additional funding requirements under the "Essential Investments", a large part which was related to expenditure on safeguards activities in the future. It is not clear as to why the requirements of equipment and building for SAL were not reflected at that time.
iii. The estimates in paragraph 30 of the report are provisional, with an uncertainty margin of as high as plus or minus 15-25%.
iv. The Group has noted that much effort has been invested in the past to upgrade safety and security at the laboratories. It would be desirable to be informed as to how the costs were met on the previous occasions. Further, it would be useful to have a break-up of anticipated expenditure on safety and security as well as on additional requirements of Human Resource.
v. The Group also recalls that during discussions at previous fora, the Secretariat was of the view that procurement of UH-SIMS equipment could be done through extra-budgetary sources, and therefore, it is surprising that suppplementary appropriation may still be needed to purchase this equipment.
In view of the need for further clarifications on these issues, the Group finds it premature for the Board to take any decision on the actions proposed in the report. The Group is also open to the suggestion that overall funding and equipment requirements of SAL should be made part and parcel of the 20/20 review.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.