Staff Report: United Nations General Assembly Reaffirms Support for the International Atomic Energy Agency

October 30, 2007

The United Nations General Assembly has reaffirmed strong support for the IAEA's work, following Director General Mohamed ElBaradei's annual address delivered in New York on 29 October. The General Assembly also adopted a resolution appealing to Member States to continue to support the IAEA's indispensable role in "encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses."

In his address to the to the 62nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly, Dr. ElBaradei reported on the IAEA's work in the areas of nuclear power technology, nuclear verification and nuclear applications.

Dr. ElBaradei said that in the face of the resurgence in interest in nuclear power, "technological and institutional innovation is a key factor in ensuring the long term sustainability of nuclear power." In particular he called for the development of a new multinational framework for the fuel cycle, both the front and the back end, to assure supply and curb proliferation risk.

"Fifty years after the Atoms for Peace initiative, I believe the time has come to think of a new framework for the use of nuclear energy - a framework that accounts both for the lessons we have learned and the current reality," he said.

On the issue of nuclear verification, Dr. ElBaradei said that Iran's "active cooperation and transparency" are key factors in resolving outstanding issues over the country's nuclear ambitions. He added that he intends to report on the implementation of the work plan agreed in August between the IAEA and Iran to the Agency´s Board of Governors meeting in November.

In nuclear applications, Dr. ElBaradei hailed the so-called South-South cooperation, stimulated by the development of nuclear capacities and infrastructure in some regions.

"Opportunities for cooperative ventures - such as shared multinational management of common underground water aquifers, transborder programmes for the elimination of insect pests and other causes of disease, and jointly owned and managed nuclear power plants - are coming to the drawing board, adding new significance to technical cooperation," he stated.

On budgetary matters, Dr. ElBaradei spoke of the "urgent need" for adequate resources to ensure effective delivery of the IAEA programme as mandated by the Statute and as requested by its Member States. "The IAEA remains under-funded in many critical areas, a situation which, if it remains unaddressed, will lead to a steady erosion of our ability to perform key functions," he said.

Concluding his speech, Dr. ElBaradei said that the Agency's role as the international body entrusted with the mission of ensuring that nuclear power would not become a cause for destruction of humanity, but rather an engine for peace and prosperity, remains as crucial today as it was fifty years ago when the IAEA was founded.

"Our mission is critical in both good times and bad. Our professionalism, impartiality and independence are vital, both publicly and behind the scenes," he stated.