Rede von Staatssekretär Hans Winkler bei der 51. Generalkonferenz der IAEO (english only!)
STATEMENT MADE BY STATE SECRETARY HANS WINKLER
AT THE 51st IAEA GENERAL CONFERENCE
18 SEPTEMBER 2007
Yesterday evening we solemnly commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Interna-tional Atomic Energy Agency at the Konzerthaus, the location of the first General Conference. For 50 years, the Agency has shouldered its responsibility to contribute to international stability and security in the most outstanding manner in offering a wide variety of high-value services to governments, consistently enhancing its impressive expertise in the whole scope of "Atoms for Peace". For five decades, the Agency has fulfilled its numerous tasks in a far-seeing and circumspect manner.
The current debate about the nuclear programmes of Iran and North-Korea shows how relevant the IAEA is today. In this regard I would like to refer to the statement delivered by Portugal on behalf of the European Union which succinctly reflects the EU position on these important issues. Let me point out some of the issues to which Austria attaches particular importance.
1. Nuclear Fuel Cycle
More than ever before the IAEA is at the centre of world attention in its efforts to enhance global security. People fear more and more the dangers of nuclear energy as well as the threats of illicit trade of nuclear technology, nuclear terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. We have reached a juncture in history where the pressing issue of nuclear proliferation dominates the political debate and represents a key challenge for the international community. The crucial question therefore is: "How shall we meet these concerns?"
At her welcoming address yesterday, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik put a particu-lar emphasis on the revitalization of the vision of a nuclear fuel cycle under multilat-eral control as one possible way out. I would like to seize the opportunity to further elaborate on some of the thoughts that she has mentioned.
Austria is very grateful for the report of Director General Mohamed ElBaradei on "Possible New Framework for the Utilization of Nuclear Energy: Options for Assur-ance of Supply of Nuclear Fuel". In times of growing energy needs - particularly in developing countries - this paper comes at the right time and constitutes an excellent basis for an in-depth discussion on a multilateralisation of the nuclear fuel cycle. In fact, Austria continues to believe that multilateral approaches constitute an excellent contribution towards overcoming international tensions regarding the use or misuse of sensitive nuclear technology.
Austria thereby fully shares the assessment of the IAEA that the long-term goal must be a "new multilateral framework for nuclear energy that over time would include converting enrichment and reprocessing facilities from national to multilateral opera-tions, and limiting future such facilities to exclusively multilateral operations".
The dual track initiative proposed by Minister Plassnik at the last NPT PrepCom meeting in Vienna is a concrete approach to increase transparency beyond current IAEA-safeguards obligations and commence with the gradual multilateralisation of the nuclear fuel cycle under the auspices and control of the IAEA. This proposal has been included in the IAEA Report.
One key element of such a new regime would be a novel approach towards the peaceful use of nuclear energy: In our view there should not be a differentiation in "haves" and "have-nots", only in "wants" and want-nots". For those that have chosen nuclear energy, access to nuclear fuel should be a strictly regulated but impartial and fair exercise. The only alternative to an open proliferation of sensitive technology in the long run is a system in which all enrichment and reprocessing facilities are under multilateral control.
Austria believes that a system in which all States feel ownership of the sensitive technology will be the best to counter a climate of mistrust. The EU can point to the success of its own founding instruments which multilateralised potentially dangerous goods and technologies and thereby contributed to the close relations of mutual con-fidence EU members share today.
In view of implementing the goal of the multilateralisation of the fuel cycle, the IAEA-Report helpfully lists the existing proposals and makes its own contribution. I believe we will still have to examine this proposal in depth to ensure that multilateral control by the IAEA arises from the beginning to a sufficient degree. The proposed 3-level-model does not seem to sufficiently address the central demand of the many states - equality and fairness. We must ensure that there is no preferential treatment of sup-pliers which could - in the worst case - serve as an inducement for the proliferation of enrichment facilities.
Austria also believes that we must not neglect non-proliferation aspects which should be the central criteria for assessing the various proposals. We would all have bene-fited from the Agency’s assessment which factors determine the proliferation resis-tance of a proposal.
As Foreign Minister Plassnik stated on Monday, we look forward to a thorough de-bate on this issue.
Let me now turn to another central issue on the international disarmament radar screen: the current state of the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation archi-tecture and in particular the Non-Proliferation Treaty. For Austria, the strength and foundation of the NPT is the carefully crafted balance of its 3 pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, simultaneously some actors impede the Agency from fulfilling the duties assigned by the Treaty. It is regret-table that this way the whole legitimacy of this cornerstone agreement of the disar-mament and non-proliferation system is challenged.
Recent developments have - once again - contributed to its undermining. A strong commitment of the entire international community to enforce compliance with the Treaty’s non-proliferation obligations is urgently needed. If this so-called "basic bar-gain" of the NPT is tilted, non-compliance tolerated, or exceptions conceded, the sys-tem will be seriously undermined.
At the same time, I wish to stress the clear linkage between nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. The only sustainable long-term approach to address the dangers of nuclear proliferation is to reduce the reliance on nuclear weapons. Con-sequently, states possessing nuclear weapons must honour their commitments and take serious steps towards nuclear disarmament. This is increasingly becoming a matter of credibility.
It is high time to overcome the differences that have characterised the disarmament and non-proliferation debate in the past years. We need to try to find a new basic consensus as to how the international community should deal with the vital issues of nuclear proliferation and disarmament. We strongly welcome the encouraging state-ment made by the former British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett at the Carnegie Non-proliferation Conference last June. We need to establish the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and we need the Nuclear Weapon States to show leader-ship in this regard.
3. Nuclear Safety
I would now like to turn to the issue of nuclear safety. Austria sincerely thanks the Director-General for the Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2006.
As regards Safety Culture in Member States, Austria welcomes the performance of the Agencies Safety Culture Assessment Review Team. While many good practices have been found by the team, recent events in Europe and worldwide indicate that Safety Culture deteriorates in both, the operating organizations and regulatory over-sight. This certainly is a cause of concern. We urge the Agency to increase its activi-ties in that respect.
Austria is looking forward to the implementation of measures within the Global Nu-clear Safety Regime to enhance the impact on improving safety by pursuing meas-ured change, as proposed by the International Nuclear Safety Group. We are con-cerned, however, that after 50 years IAEA Safety Standards are still not fully applied by the entire nuclear community. We thus support the Agency in its effort to ensure that all Safety Standards are applied in a harmonized manner and to the full extent.
Austria took also note of the Agencies information regarding "Considerations to Launch a Nuclear Power Programme", in particular the preconditions the Agency sets with regard to Nuclear Safety and Security, and with regard to relationships with neighbouring states, the international community respectively. Strong involvement from all stakeholders, especially citizens who are affected, is seen as an essential issue by the Agency. Austria shares that point of view while adding that this holds true also in a transboundary context.
The Agencies findings about inadequate funding for decommissioning activities are to be taken very seriously as the number of nuclear installations reaching the end of their lifetime is increasing.
As regards the Agency’s examination of innovative and proliferation resistant nuclear technologies Austria believes that any such activity should focus on challenges aris-ing from new technologies for governments and regulatory authorities of nuclear and non-nuclear countries alike. Therefore, Austria would have difficulties in accepting activities of the Agency in support of developing technologies for new and innovative nuclear reactors. This is clearly a matter of the nuclear industry. The Agency should rather be a driving force to enhance the safety of any such nuclear installation.
A renaissance of nuclear energy is imminent. A thorough scrutiny of all related as-pects as for example conducted by the Austrian Nuclear Advisory Board, however, shows that in spite of nominal safety improvements in nuclear power plants a long list of "near-misses" documents that severe accidents can never be excluded; nuclear installations can only marginally be protected against terrorist attacks; proliferation continues to be a serious problem and a sustainable solution of the radioactive waste problem is not in sight.
The fourth review meeting under the Convention on Nuclear safety is ahead, the or-ganizational meeting to the review meeting starting back to back of this General Con-ference. Austria has contributed and will contribute to all international activities which aim at improving safety levels worldwide. In this respect, Austria regards the Conven-tion on Nuclear Safety a very important tool in developing global nuclear safety. Its Review Meetings provide a highly welcome opportunity to review progress in the Member States of the Convention and to exchange views on how best to implement its provisions.
The IAEA safeguards system is an indispensable part of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Safeguards can provide assurance that states live up to their non-proliferation obligations and do not misuse their nuclear programmes for the development of nuclear weapons. The level of assurance we get depends on the le-gal authority we are prepared to assign to the Agency.
Repeated cases of clandestine nuclear programmes that could not be detected by traditional safeguards measures have demonstrated the need for a strengthened safeguards system. It is of utmost importance for the international community that the IAEA be able to draw safeguards conclusions regarding the peaceful use of all nu-clear material in states.
The Additional Protocol provides the Agency with a much more complete insight into States' nuclear programmes and thereby allows detection of clandestine activities. Austria therefore continues to strongly advocate adherence to the Additional Protocol. We call on all states to negotiate and conclude additional protocols to their safe-guards agreements without further delay. In this context, I wish to reiterate Austria’s view that the conclusion of an additional protocol is, for non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT, a legal obligation.
We are pleased to note that the number of additional protocols continues to increase steadily. The majority of NPT non-nuclear weapons states with comprehensive safe-guards agreements has now brought into force Additional Protocols. This provides the Agency with a sound basis for the implementation of Integrated Safeguards, and for further refining the system, which allows for optimum combination of all safe-guards measures available to achieve the greatest effectiveness and efficiency. Nev-ertheless, progress still remains too slow: a number of important goals of Additional Protocol implementation will only be realised when the system is universal. We reit-erate our appreciation for promotional efforts undertaken in this regard by the Agency and by a number of member states, in particular Japan.
We also regret that there are still a number of NPT-non-nuclear weapon states that have not yet concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement.
Austria attaches great importance to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The amended Convention will be an important contribution to both, the fight against nuclear terrorism and to nuclear non-proliferation. Unfortunately, progress in the ratification of the 2005 amendment is disappointingly slow. I would like to encourage all States Parties to the CPPNM to do their utmost to ensure the earliest possible entry into force of the amendment to the Convention.
Let me finally stress that nuclear co-operation and trade cannot take place without the proper nuclear security environment. States party to the NPT may supply nuclear items only if they can be confident that they are not misused for purposes of a nu-clear weapons programme or for acts of nuclear terrorism. Comprehensive safe-guards, including an Additional Protocol, must therefore be complemented by an ef-fective physical protection system, effective measures to combat illicit trafficking, and appropriate effective export controls.
The Agency has proven often enough its reliability and efficiency on the international scene. With its special focus on monitoring, verification and assistance, the IAEA de-cisively contributes to strengthening the Vienna centre of competence for intertwined issues of security and development.
The Austrian Government highly appreciates the dedicated work performed by the IAEA team in the past year. Let me thank you once again and assure you that Austria will, as in the past, lend its full support to the efforts of the Agency to contribute to a safer world.
Thank you for your attention!