State Secretary Hans Winkler at the 49th General Conference of the IAEA
Address delivered by State Secretary Hans Winkler
on the occasion of the
49th IAEA General Conference
Vienna, 26 September 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen!
At the outset, I wish to extend a very warm welcome to you and all the participants of the 49th IAEA General Conference. Allow me to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election and assure you of our full support and co-operation.
The past years have been dominated by a number of serious challenges to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. They have highlighted the tremendous importance of the IAEA. The outstanding role of the IAEA in verifying compliance of States Parties with their obligations under the NPT has become obvious. The IAEA continues to be in the international limelight and bears a heavy responsibility for maintaining international stability and security. Let me therefore stress that Austria is proud to host an organisation of such pre-eminence.
The excellent standing of the IAEA is to a large extent due to Director General Mohamad Elbaradei’s leadership during the past eight years. We look forward to his re-appointment by this Conference. I am convinced that he himself and the Agency will continue to live up to the same high professional standard as they have done in the past.
I would like to express Austria’s full association with the contents of the EU statement presented by the UK Ambassador. I will thus confine myself to addressing those issues to which Austria attaches particular importance.
To start with, we are convinced that the NPT is a unique international legal instrument. Its aim is not only to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It also includes a legal commitment to their elimination. It regulates the access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The NPT is undoubtedly the key non-proliferation and disarmament treaty. It has served the international community well in the past 35 years.
The NPT and the decision about its indefinite extension in 1995 are the result of a careful bargain and of balancing the three pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, the balance between these three pillars has being tilted. The integrity of the Treaty is challenged.
Nuclear know-how and access to technology are becoming ever more available. The overwhelming majority of non-nuclear-weapon states comply with their non-proliferation obligations under the Treaty. But there have also been alarming cases of proliferation and non-compliance. At the same time progress in nuclear disarmament still eludes us. In the aftermath of the 2000 Review Conference we were quite optimistic that the NPT-community would be working together with a common sense of purpose. Instead, States Parties are grappling with a deep crisis of confidence.
Progress in non-proliferation and a strong commitment to enforce compliance with the Treaty obligations is urgently needed. Austria is fully committed to these goals. However, non-proliferation is not enough. Progress in non-proliferation will only be possible in the long run if there are also tangible results in nuclear disarmament. For Austria the practical steps for nuclear disarmament that were agreed upon by consensus at the NPT-Review Conference in 2000 remain important.
Austria deeply regrets that the Review Conference of 2005 failed to achieve a substantive outcome. The international Community missed the opportunity to reaffirm its full support for the essential role of the Agency in the area of nuclear non-proliferation and security.
Safeguards are a key element of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. In the past year, the Board of Governors has again addressed a number of proliferation challenges. Undeclared nuclear programmes that were not detected by traditional safeguards measures demonstrate the need for improvement. For the international community it is important that the IAEA is able to provide credible assurance, not only on the non-diversion of nuclear material, but also on the absence of undeclared nuclear activities.
Austria continues to strongly advocate adherence to the Model Additional Protocol. This instrument provides the Agency with a better insight into States' nuclear programmes. Furthermore, it makes detection of clandestine activities more likely. I wish to reiterate Austria’s long held view that the conclusion of an additional protocol is a legal obligation for non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT.
We welcome the development of the Integrated Safeguards System. The Agency needs to be given the necessary legal authority for its implementation. 37 countries have yet to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement. We are heartened by the continuing growth of the number of additional protocols concluded, but a lot remains to be done. We appreciate all efforts undertaken in order to promote the universalisation of the Additional Protocol.
Nuclear security in the widest sense is a precondition for nuclear co-operation and trade. States party to the NPT may supply nuclear items only if they can be confident that an appropriate level of nuclear security is implemented in the recipient country. This includes in the first place IAEA comprehensive safeguards. Equally important, however, are an appropriate system of physical protection and appropriate effective export controls. When we mention comprehensive safeguards, let us not forget that this should include the Additional Protocol in the very near future.
Many countries with small or insignificant nuclear activities lack the necessary experience with regard to devising and implementing such a "state system of nuclear security". We need to assist these countries in closing the security gaps. Our efforts to combat nuclear terrorism can only be successful if appropriate control systems in nuclear security are properly implemented all over the world.
The international community has responded to the threat of nuclear terrorism with a vast array of measures. One key element in this endeavour is to strengthen the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities.
In this regard, we are very pleased with the successful outcome of the recent conference to amend the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM). The amended Convention will be an important contribution to both, the fight against terrorism and to nuclear non-proliferation. Big efforts were made until agreement was reached on a well-defined amendment proposal. In this context, let me make reference to the late Dr. Fritz Schmidt, an Austrian who played an important role in this process.
Nuclear safety and security should be seen as undividable. Austria continues to contribute to efforts to investigate safety and security issues of nuclear installations. Our policy regarding nuclear energy production is determined by a constitutional law on a nuclear-free Austria. Hence, we pursue a policy towards a phasing out of nuclear energy production internationally, while respecting national decisions and international law.
Austria welcomes the Initiative by the Secretariat that led to the Draft Self-assessment Guidelines for the Engineering Safety Aspects of the Protection of Nuclear Facilities against Sabotage. It provides one more step towards linking physical protection with the design of nuclear installations. This approach helps to identify vulnerabilities against all forms of external and internal events. It will certainly raise the stability and security of nuclear energy as a whole. It will also increase resistance against many threats, including sabotage or terror.
Nuclear power plant design aims to achieve inherently safe power plants. This means that even a severe accident will not have serious radiological consequences outside the plant. A noble objective, but it will remain elusive as long as the technology involved itself poses a risk. We therefore urge the Agency to further strengthen its efforts to enhance safety and security regimes worldwide.
We often hear these days that nuclear power to produce electricity is the answer to climate change and to the need to reduce greenhouse gases. Austria is not of this opinion. If one assesses energy technologies and their potential of mitigating the anthropogenic greenhouse effect, taking into account the full life-cycle and including demand-side options, nuclear power does not turn out to be a viable option. Energy efficiency and structural changes will not only contribute in a tenfold share, but also increase safety and security while decreasing dependencies.
Turning to the international instruments in the field of nuclear safety, we can be satisfied about an increased number of ratifications to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, which now includes all states with operating Nuclear Power Reactors. Austria encourages all states to ratify the Convention. We hope that the review meetings will continue to be useful for countries without a nuclear power program.
Austria also welcomes that additional states have ratified the Joint Convention. We look forward to the Review Meeting in March next year and are confident that it will yield positive results. Again, I would like to call on those states which are not yet parties to the said convention to sign and ratify it, in order to strengthen this instrument of worldwide nuclear safety.
Austria regards the Technical Co-operation Programme of the IAEA as an integral part of its activities. We realize that the Agency has made considerable progress in increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the Programme. While Austria remains sceptical about the power applications of nuclear energy, we fully support the Agency's activities in the wide area of non-power applications of nuclear energy.
Let me conclude by reiterating that Austria very much appreciates the work done by the Director General and his staff in the past year. This is in particular true for the verification activities of the Agency. We all know that the challenges posed by the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons to the IAEA and to the international community as a whole are huge. I am confident that the Agency, due to its vast experience in verifying compliance of States Parties to the NPT, will continue to live up to our high expectations. Let me reassure you that Austria will, as in the past, lend its full support to the Agency.