The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will look to strengthen its activities to bolster nuclear safety around the world, the agency's director-general Yukiya Amano told its board of governors yesterday. He also informed the board of progress in the IAEA's other work.
|Amano addresses the board meeting (Image: IAEA)
Addressing the board at its meeting in Vienna, Amano said: "We will consider ways of further strengthening our work in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety. We will continue to focus on regulatory effectiveness, safety culture and capacity-building." He added, "Efforts to strengthen global nuclear safety in light of the lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident continue as we approach its sixth anniversary."
Amano said a number of important nuclear safety and security documents had been presented to the board. The Nuclear Safety Review 2017, he said, provides an overview of IAEA activities in 2016 and of global trends in nuclear safety. "It also presents priorities for 2017 and beyond," he said.
He told the board that the first draft of the IAEA Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2021 has been circulated for discussion and informal consultations have begun. "It is intended to guide our work in providing support to Member States over the next four years ... Our focus is on concrete measures which will be of practical value to all countries as they work to strengthen nuclear security ... Radioactive sources offer many benefits in such areas as medicine, industry and agriculture. But they pose risks to human health and the environment if not managed safely and securely."
The disposal of radioactive sources is an important issue for many Member States, especially developing countries, he said. "I hope a solution satisfactory to all Member States can be achieved."
Construction of the IAEA low-enriched uranium (LEU) storage facility in Kazakhstan is proceeding on schedule, Amano said. He noted the LEU Bank is expected to be completed and ready to receive LEU by this September. This will be a physical reserve of LEU - the basic ingredient of nuclear fuel - and act as a supplier of last resort for the IAEA's Member States in case they cannot obtain LEU on the global commercial market or otherwise.
"You have before you for approval an agreement between the IAEA and China for the transit of LEU to and from the LEU Bank," Amano informed the board. "It is similar to the agreement with the Russian Federation which you approved in 2015." He said the IAEA continues to work on the LEU Procurement Plan and aims to have the LEU acquisition contract in place before the end of this year.
Verification and monitoring
The IAEA has been verifying and monitoring Iran's implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for more than a year. He said the IAEA in January verified the removal of excess centrifuges and infrastructure from the Fordow fuel enrichment plant to the Natanz enrichment plant, where they are now stored under IAEA monitoring. The agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its safeguards agreement, he added.
However, Amano remains "seriously concerned" with North Korea's nuclear program. "It is deeply regrettable that the DPRK has shown no indication that it is willing to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions adopted in response to its two nuclear tests last year," he said.
He presented the board with a draft safeguards agreement with Pakistan concerning units 2 and 3 of the Karachi nuclear power plant. These are planned to be Chinese-designed Hualong One units.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News