UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Message to the 49th IAEA General Conference

September 26, 2005

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

This forty-ninth session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency comes less than two weeks after the World Summit in New York.

The Summit made progress on a number of important issues facing the international community. But when it came to the challenge of strengthening all three pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- disarmament, non-proliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear technology -- the Summit was a failure. States were not able even to reaffirm existing commitments, or find a way forward even at the level of principles.

A group of states led by Norway, including Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Romania, South Africa and the United Kingdom, are working to try to chart a way forward. I encourage all IAEA Member States -- and, indeed, all States -- to support their initiative. And I hope that this IAEA conference can send a signal of the international community's seriousness and determination to strengthen the NPT.

The IAEA plays a vital role in the maintenance of international peace and security and the promotion of development. The international community recognizes and relies on the IAEA's independence, technical competence and impartial verification capacity of global non-proliferation efforts. And it looks to the Agency to promote the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, which are important tools for social and economic development.

If planning indicators are correct, we can expect to see considerable expansion of civilian nuclear power generators in the next few years. This calls for additional vigilance in maintaining safety standards, services and procedures. So too does the heightened threats of nuclear and radiological terrorism. I welcome the comprehensive plan of action developed by the IAEA to enhance States' capacity to detect the sources of such threats and take countermeasures.

We must also come to terms with the fact that developments in the nuclear fuel cycle have led to proliferation risks that were not fully envisioned when the NPT was established 35 years ago. In this context, I believe that the work of the Expert Group on multilateral approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle must be followed up. Their February report suggested multilateral options for improved controls over the proliferation-sensitive portions of the nuclear fuel cycle while preserving assurances of supply and services.

I have in my report "In larger freedom" called for the universal adoption of the Model Additional Protocol, which I believe should become the standard for verifying compliance with Article III of the NPT. And I fully endorse the Agency's promotion of strengthened safeguards.

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism is a significant step forward in multilateral efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism, as is the strengthening of the International Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

I welcome the outcome of the six-party talks on the principles of a peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. I urge all parties to continue and intensify their efforts to fully implement the agreement.

I also continue to hope that there can be an outcome satisfactory to all parties concerning Iran's nuclear programme. I believe that confidence and trust need to be rebuilt on all sides, in order to find a solution to this difficult and delicate issue that effectively dispels proliferation concerns.

On these specific challenges, and on the global challenge of strengthening the NPT, there is no substitute for strong leadership and a spirit of cooperation. I hope that both are on display at this conference, and I wish you all the best in your deliberations.