IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano Delivers Keynote Lecture at the 20th Edoardo Amaldi Conference (Excerpts)

October 9, 2017

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to speak at this 20th Edoardo Amaldi Conference in the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the oldest scientific academy in the world.


In the past 60 years, the IAEA has helped to improve the health and prosperity of millions of people by making nuclear science and technology available in health care, food and agriculture, industry and other areas.

We also contributed to international peace and security by verifying that nuclear material stays in peaceful uses.

Our work was given special recognition in 2005 with the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded jointly to the Agency and to my distinguished predecessor Dr Mohamed ElBaradei.

We are probably best known in the public mind for our work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and especially – in recent years – for our activities concerning the nuclear programmes of North Korea and Iran.


I will now turn to the nuclear verification work of the IAEA.

We implement safeguards in 181 countries, sending nuclear inspectors all over the world to check that States are not secretly developing nuclear weapons. We use advanced technology that enables us to detect even minute particles of nuclear material.

We have state-of-the-art safeguards laboratories near Vienna which analyse samples of material brought back by our inspectors. Wherever possible, we monitor nuclear facilities remotely, in real time, using permanently installed cameras and other sensors.

The IAEA and EURATOM have for decades applied safeguards jointly in Europe, including through joint team inspections.

This brings me to the very topical issue of Iran’s nuclear programme.

The IAEA worked from 2003 onwards to try to resolve a number of outstanding safeguards issues in Iran. For years, little or no progress was made. But, a few years ago, we started to see some movement.

In July 2015, I signed a Road-map with Iran for the clarification of possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme. At the same time, Iran and the group of countries known as the P5+1 – plus the EU – agreed on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA.

As a result of the IAEA Roadmap, I was able to present a final assessment of Iran’s past nuclear activities to the IAEA Board of Governors in December 2015.

Our assessment was that Iran had conducted a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device before the end of 2003. However, these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.

Based on my report, the IAEA Board decided to close its consideration of outstanding issues related to the Iranian nuclear programme. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Implementation of the JCPOA began in January 2016. The IAEA is not a party to the agreement. We were asked by the UN Security Council to verify and monitor that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the agreement. Our Board of Governors authorised us to do so.

The JCPOA represents a real gain for nuclear verification. 

Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime. Our inspectors have expanded access to sites, and have more information about Iran’s nuclear programme. That programme is smaller than it was before the agreement came into force.

Iran is provisionally implementing the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This is a powerful verification tool which gives us broader access to information and locations.

As a result, I can state that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented.

The IAEA will continue to implement safeguards in Iran with a view to being able to draw what we call the “broader conclusion” – that all nuclear material remains in peaceful activities – in due course. This is likely to take many years.

But we can already point to some valuable lessons from the process so far.

The first is that even complex and challenging issues can be tackled effectively if all parties are committed to dialogue – not dialogue for its own sake, but dialogue aimed at achieving results.

My second observation is that the IAEA was able to make a vital contribution, and maintain the confidence of all sides, by sticking to its technical mandate and not straying into politics.