Vienna, 19 September 2006 - Prior to her departure for the UN General Assembly in New York Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik emphasised the outstanding importance of nuclear safety standards in a speech given at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 50th General Conference in Vienna on 18 September. "The IAEA’s work focuses on the creation and strengthening of a global system of networked protection and safety standards in the nuclear field. In order to be able to perform its inspection work in an effective and credible manner, the Atomic Energy Agency must be assigned the respective authority," said Plassnik. In the Foreign Minister's view the content of the IAEA safety standards for the protection of people and the environment should be made legally binding.
Plassnik called for the strengthening of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation system. "A strong commitment by the entire community of states is urgently needed in order to enforce the non-proliferation obligations," Plassnik stressed. In view of the current crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions this would also be an issue for discussion at the UN General Assembly in New York and constitute part of her talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the current chairman of the UN Security Council, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. "In international safety issues, Vienna is recognised and valued as a venue for dialogue," emphasised Plassnik, extending the invitation to hold the first preparation meeting for the next NPT review conference in Vienna.
Progress in nuclear technology would make it more and more difficult to draw a precise line between civil and military capacity. "We therefore welcome the discussion initiated by Director General Mohammed ElBaradei on the establishment of a transparent multilateral system of guaranteed nuclear fuel supply. This is an interesting approach in our work for the prevention of nuclear proliferation," said Plassnik.
The Foreign Minister also took the occasion to clearly express Austria's basic stance on nuclear power. "In our view neither current nor future generations of nuclear power plants can overcome the major shortcomings of nuclear power," concluded Plassnik.
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