I am pleased to send my best wishes to the Forty-Eighth General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA's role in helping to maintain international peace and security is as vital today as at any time in its history. The Agency is an important catalyst in the promotion of a culture of safety and security in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The international community recognizes the Agency independent, technically competent and impartial verification of global non-proliferation efforts.
The work of the IAEA is helping to meet many of the biggest challenges facing the world today – from combating climate change to preserving the environment, from feeding and protecting the health of the world's growing population to supplying the water and energy needed for sustainable economic growth and development. I welcome the Agency's efforts in these fields, and I urge it to develop further the use of nuclear techniques for sustainable development.
I wholeheartedly support the IAEA's work to strengthen nuclear safeguards and to encourage the conclusion of Additional Protocols to safeguards agreements. In this context, I again call for the early resumption of the Agency's safeguards activities in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. I also call upon Iran to further cooperate with the Agency in fully resolving outstanding issues regarding its nuclear programme.
It is also my hope that the forthcoming 2005 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons will bring about renewed commitments to all treaty obligations – including progress in achieving adherence to the comprehensive safeguards by all State parties and in further promoting the importance of the Additional Protocol.
The ongoing conflict in the Middle East and its potential for escalation is a source of great concern. I therefore commend the recent efforts of the IAEA to work towards the application of full-scope IAEA safeguards in the Middle East, in furtherance of the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.
I also fully share the deep concern of many over the risk of terrorists acquiring and using nuclear devices or radioactive materials. Keeping nuclear weapons out of such dangerous hands is a sine qua non of global security. I therefore urge all Governments to work closely with the IAEA to take stronger measures to ensure the physical protection, safety and security of nuclear and radioactive materials, as well as relevant equipment and technology.
This Forty-Eighth General Conference offers a renewed opportunity to address some issues of core concern to the international community in a forthright manner. I urge all States to seize this opportunity, and I wish you a successful outcome.