Word from the President
Dear ENS members,
The 50th Annual General Conference of the IAEA
(GC) was held, in Vienna, from 18-22 September, 2006. Because
it was the 50th anniversary, the conference was attended by a
larger than usual number of participants, many of them high-level
state officials. Vladimír Slugen, President of the Slovak
Nuclear Society and myself represented ENS.
Our former president, Bertrand Barré,
attended the conference as chairman of INSC, the International
Nuclear Society Council.
Here is a short report that I wrote, followed
by an independent one written by Bertrand. The reports give two
different but complementary views on the conference.
The Annual General Conference
usually starts with a few administrative matters, such as
the election of officers – including that of a new
president (on this occasion a South African) - and the accession
of new member countries - Malawi, Montenegro, Mozambique
and Palau. And this year was no exception. After the points
of order, the Director General made his traditional opening
statement. After a few more administrative matters were
settled, such as the budget, each country then made a short
In parallel with the main meeting, the so-called
'Committee of the Whole' began drafting and discussing proposals
for resolutions to be adapted by the General Assembly at the end
of the conference. This part of the proceedings was both highly
technical and political.
Not surprisingly, the statements frequently addressed
the issue of security of fuel supply and hinted at the ongoing
situation in Iran. Both issues are, of course, closely related.
The issue of security of supply was the subject of a 'special
event' organised in parallel.
Director General Mohammed ElBaradei gave an overview
of the Agency’s different areas of competence. The full
text of his statement is available at:
On the subject of Iran, the Director General
"The implementation of the NPT safeguards
agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been on the agenda
of the Board for more than three years and lately also on the
agenda of the United Nations Security Council. On 31 July 2006,
the Security Council adopted resolution 1696, in which it called
upon Iran to take the steps required ... and the reestablishment
by Iran of full and sustained suspension of all its enrichment
related and reprocessing activities. In my report of 31 August
to the Board and to the Security Council, regarding Iran's fulfilment
of the requirements of that resolution, I stated that Iran had
not suspended its enrichment related activities, nor was the Agency
able to make progress on resolving the outstanding issues, due
to the absence of the necessary transparency on the part of Iran.
... I remain hopeful that, through the ongoing dialogue between
Iran and its European and other partners, the conditions will
be created to engage in a long overdue negotiation that aims to
achieve a comprehensive settlement that, on the one hand, would
address the international community's concerns about the peaceful
nature of Iran's nuclear programme, while on the other hand addressing
Iran's economic, political and security concerns."
With regards to the nuclear fuel cycle, Mr. ElBaradei
added: "The increase in global energy demand is driving a
potential expansion in the use of nuclear energy. And concern
is mounting regarding the proliferation risks created by the further
spread of sensitive nuclear technology, such as uranium enrichment
and spent fuel reprocessing. The convergence of the above realities
points to the need for the development of a new framework for
the nuclear fuel cycle.
I have been calling since 2004 for the development
of a new, multilateral approach to the nuclear fuel cycle, as
a key measure to strengthen non-proliferation and cope with the
expected expansion of nuclear power use. The establishment of
a framework that is equitable and accessible to all users of nuclear
energy acting in accordance with agreed nuclear non-proliferation
norms will certainly be a complex endeavour, and therefore in
my view will be best addressed through a series of progressive
The first phase would establish mechanisms
for assurance of supply of fuel for nuclear power plants
The second phase would develop, as needed,
assurances regarding the acquisition of nuclear power reactors
The third phase would facilitate the conversion
of existing enrichment and reprocessing facilities from national
to multilateral operations, and would encourage limiting future
enrichment and reprocessing to multilateral operations."
The US was, in my opinion, remarkably discreet about Iran. The
only reference they made to it was:
"The defiance and violations of Iran and
North Korea, and the risk of catastrophic nuclear terror, must
be addressed." However, the issues of terrorism and potential
proliferation were a constantly repeated concern in their statement.
With respect to security of supply, the US recalled their commitment
to "encouraging reliable access to nuclear fuel for countries
that forgo uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities..."
The Iranian delegation did not directly mention
the US, but its allusion to the US was obvious in sentences such
as '...the approach and behaviour of certain nuclear weapons states...'
Iran holds the states that possess nuclear weapons responsible
for the failure of the last NPT conference. It strongly argued
against a monopoly on enrichment and fuel production by developed
states and vehemently protested against the limiting of their
country’s inalienable rights to access to peaceful nuclear
capabilities. Iran claims that the decision to refer Iran to the
Security Council is illegal. The statement ended with a number
of declarations, including: 'the Islamic Republic of Iran's intentions
are exclusively peaceful” and “..the Islamic Republic
of Iran is against nuclear weapons and is seeking the total elimination
of nuclear weapons in the region and the world accordingly.”
Let me conclude this summary by including an
excerpt from the statement made by the Holy See, founding members
of the IAEA (but not a member yet of the ENS!): "The truth
of peace requires that all governments –those that openly
or secretly possess nuclear arms or those planning to acquire
them – agree to change course by making clear and firm decisions
and by striving for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament".
Back from Vienna (Bertrand Barré)
IAEA, the International Atomic
Energy Agency, recognizes INSC as a non-governmental organization
(NGO). Member societies ANS and ENS, as well as the INEA
(International Nuclear Energy Academy) enjoy the same status.
As an NGO, INSC is invited to send one delegate and a few
observers to attend the Annual General Conference (GC) of
the Agency, which is traditionally held during the third
week of September. Now that I am back from Vienna, allow
me to share with you my personal thoughts on the conference.
This year, the IAEA celebrated both its 50th
Anniversary and the Nobel Peace Prize that was won jointly by
the Agency and its Director General, Mohammed ElBaradei. Even
in a “normal” year, the GC is a very formal event,
with a delegation from each country delivering a prepared speech
in a vast auditorium. These speeches usually contain few surprises,
but a lot of activity occurs behind the scene as the GC is a unique
opportunity for bilateral meetings and negotiations. The GC is
also an opportunity for the Agency to publicise its achievements
and to spread information about the status of nuclear science,
technology and politics around the world.
A number of countries, IGOs and NGOs had exhibition
stands in the grounds of the Conference Centre. Iran was mentioned
in many presentations, but because the matter had been referred
by the Agency to the UN Security Council, the issue had moved
from Vienna to New York.
From the Director General’s report, I would
like to highlight the following excerpts:
“There is no development without energy.
Approximately 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity,
and 2.4 billion continue to rely on traditional biomass, because
they have no access to modern fuels.”
Because of oil prices and fear of climate change,
and owing to its safety record over the last 20 years, nuclear
power is experiencing rising expectations throughout the world.
Even though it is mostly used in industrialized countries, of
the 28 reactors under construction, 16 are in developing countries,
in Asia and Eastern Europe. Uranium reserves should suffice to
fuel enhanced nuclear programs… provided activities in exploration
mining and milling restart.”
“New countries are expected to start developing
nuclear power: it is paramount that this enlargement not results
in increased proliferation. This is why IAEA has launched an expert
study on multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle (Report
issued February 2005) and a “special event” has been
organized, in parallel to the GC, to study non-proliferation and
assurances of fuel supply.
INPRO is about to start its phase 2, devoted to infrastructures.
No serious reactor accident has occurred for the last 20 years,
but a number of incidents underline that nuclear safety is never
definitively acquired: it should always be viewed as “work
“Much of the Agency’s scientific
work is focussed on the transfer of peaceful nuclear technology
in applications related to health, agriculture, industry, water
management and preservation of the environment. The Nobel money
was used to set up a “IAEA Nobel Cancer and Nutrition Fund”.
The PACT, Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy, has been boosted
and successes have been obtained in the nutrition area (cocoa
in Ghana, fruit fly control, tsetse fly eradication, etc.).”
“78 States have now Additional Protocols
in force, but over 100 States, including 25 with significant nuclear
activities, have yet to bring additional protocols into force.
Worse: 36 non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT have not
yet filled their obligation to bring Comprehensive Safeguards
Agreements into force.”
The special event that took place in parallel
to the GC was primarily dedicated to examining possible mechanisms
for ensuring supply at the front end of the fuel cycle and, more
precisely, enrichment. The idea was to provide incentives for
countries to voluntarily refrain from developing, on a national
basis, sensitive enrichment technology. The six uranium supplier
countries (USA, Russia, France and the URENCO troika) introduced
a proposal last June called RANF (Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel).
Russia then added a proposal to turn one of its 4 existing enrichment
plants into an International Uranium Enrichment Centre under IAEA
auspices, and the USA announced they were about to downgrade 17.4
tons of military HEU to create a fuel reserve for civilian purposes.
There were also German and Japanese proposals.
Several countries warned against creating a “new
discrimination” between the “haves” and the
“have nots” when it comes to fuel cycle technologies
(in addition to the painfully accepted discrimination between
NWS and NNWS). Canada pointed out that existing exporters of enrichment
services were not exporters of natural uranium, therefore limiting
the guarantee of supply that Canada can offer.
For us “old-timers,” it was somewhat reminiscent of
INFCE, with one main difference: the main message was “multilateralization,”
rather than denial.
Traditionally, on the first afternoon, the Agency
holds a briefing session for NGOs and
IGOs. Last year, for instance, the briefing was devoted to PACT.
This year, the Agency asked NGOs to intervene rather than the
reverse, as was usually the case. Accordingly, the INEA, in a
joint move with the INSC, made an offer to support and assist
the IAEA in its efforts to present nuclear energy in an impartial
context at the various meetings of the Commission on Sustainable
Development (CSD) and of the Conferences of the Parties to the
UN Convention on Climate Change - the “COP.” This
offer was politely rejected.
Bertrand Barré, Chairman INSC