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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 50, September 2000

IAEA General Conference

44th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, September 18-22, 2000.

Note: the Conference elected 11 new members to its 35-state Board of Governors - Argentina, Egypt, Ghana, Ireland, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine. The other members of the Board are: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Syria, United Kingdom, United States.

Summary

'Nuclear Cooperation Targets Global Challenges: states back main pillars of the IAEA's Work to strengthen Nuclear Safety, Verification and Technology Transfer,' IAEA Press Release 2000/24, September 22.

"... The General Conference, which concludes today in Vienna, is being attended by high-level governmental delegates from the IAEA's 130 member states. Full coverage is accessible on the IAEA's WorldAtom Web pages at http://www.iaea.org/worldatom. Among actions taken today and during the week:

  • Member states supported measures for further strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of the safeguards system, and the application of agreements (Additional Protocols) that improve the Agency's capability to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities. In statements during the week, more than 10 member states noted progress toward conclusion of an Additional Protocol with the Agency, and over the past year, the IAEA Board of Governors has approved thirteen Additional Protocols, eleven of which have been ratified. Altogether the IAEA Board has approved Additional Protocols with 54 states, including all nuclear-weapon states, and Protocols are in force or being provisionally applied in 17 states. In welcoming these steps, the General Conference reaffirmed its conviction that the Agency's safeguards can promote greater confidence among states and thus contribute to strengthening their collective security. In a separate resolution, on measures against illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and other radioactive sources, the Conference welcomed the Agency's ongoing efforts and appealed to states to further strengthen their capabilities to combat illicit trafficking. ...
  • Member states backed the full implementation of IAEA verification responsibilities in Iraq and in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The General Conference adopted a resolution that called upon Iraq to implement in full all relevant Security Council resolutions and to cooperate fully to enable the Agency to carry out its mandated nuclear monitoring and verification activities; it noted with concern that the Agency's last inspections under mandate of the Security Council were in December 1998. Iraq was urged to submit without further delay the semi-annual declarations required under the verification plan. Relative to the DPRK, the Conference adopted a resolution that urged the DPRK to come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement, and to take all steps that the Agency deems necessary to preserve relevant information for its verification. Recent positive developments in northeast Asia were welcomed and the resolution expressed the hope that they would open the way to progress towards full implementation of safeguards in the DPRK.
  • Member states requested the IAEA Director General to arrange a forum on the application of safeguards in the Middle East. The General Conference decision specifically requests the Director General to make arrangements to convene a forum in which participants from the Middle East and other interested parties could learn from the experience of other regions with respect to comprehensive verification arrangements, and confidence-building measures that contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapons free zone.
  • Progress was reported toward the IAEA's verification of nuclear material released from defense programmes in the United States and Russian Federation. ..."

US-Russia Fissile Materials

'IAEA Verification of Weapon-Origin Fissile Material in the Russian Federation and the United States,' IAEA Press Release 2000/22, September 19.

"Minister of the Russian Federation on Atomic Energy, Evgueny Adamov, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration of the United States, General John Gordon, and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, met in Vienna on September 18, 2000 to review progress on the Trilateral Initiative which was launched in 1996 to develop a new IAEA verification system for weapon-origin material designated as released from defense programs by the United States or the Russian Federation. The removal of weapon-origin fissile material from the defense programmes of the Russian Federation and the United States is in furtherance of the obligations of the two states under Article VI of the [NPT]... IAEA verification under this Initiative is intended to promote international confidence that fissile material made subject by either of the two states to Agency verification remains irreversibly removed from nuclear weapon programs.

At the 2000 NPT Review Conference, the consensus final document underlined 'the importance of international verification of nuclear material designated by each nuclear-weapon state as no longer required for military purposes', noted that the Conference agreed that the principle of irreversibility should apply to nuclear disarmament, nuclear and other related arms control and reduction measures, and called for 'arrangements by all nuclear-weapon states to place, as soon as practicable, fissile material designated by each of them as no longer required for military purposes under IAEA or other relevant verification ...'. More specifically, the final document calls for 'the completion and implementation of the Trilateral Initiative between the United States of America, the Russian Federation and the International Atomic Energy Agency'.

Under new verification agreements planned between the IAEA and each of the states, the Russian Federation and the United States intend to submit to IAEA verification weapon-origin fissile material. The United States also intends to submit to IAEA verification other fissile material designated by it as no longer required for defense purposes. An essential requirement of the verification system and the methods to be applied is that they must allow the IAEA to draw credible and independent conclusions to assure that the objectives of verification are met. At the same time, each state must, in keeping with its obligations under Article I of the NPT, assure that the IAEA does not gain access to information relating to the design or manufacture of such weapons.

Substantial progress has been made towards completing a Model Verification Agreement intended to serve as the basis for the bilateral agreements to be concluded between the IAEA and each of the states. The Model Verification Agreement, together with recommendations for financing and cost estimates for IAEA activities which will be required under the new agreements, will be submitted at the appropriate time to the IAEA Board of Governors.

In the technical area, the three parties are collaborating in developing and testing special verification equipment for use with classified forms of plutonium. It will incorporate neutron and gamma ray measurement systems, operating within a system of 'information barriers' designed to allow the inspectors to derive sufficient information for the verification to be credible and independent, while preventing access to classified information. Work is proceeding towards reaching agreement on the verification arrangements to be applied in specific facilities identified by the Russian Federation and the United States where the new agreements would apply. In the Russian Federation, four rounds of discussions were held on the verification methods to be applied at the Mayak Fissile Material Storage Facility, located at Ozersk. In the United States, discussions between US and IAEA experts are well advanced on inspection arrangements applicable to the K-Area Material Storage Facility, located at the Savannah River Site.

Minister Adamov, General Gordon and Director General ElBaradei committed their respective organizations to a work programme for the coming year aimed at the completion of the Model Verification Agreement, the testing of specialized verification and monitoring systems, the development of procedures for inspections, and the adoption of the basic technical measures associated with the verification of fissile material covered by the Initiative. Minister Adamov, General Gordon and the Director General ElBaradei agreed that the Principals would meet again in September 2001 to plan the implementation of this Initiative."

Statement by UN Secretary-General

'Addressing the 44th General Conference of IAEA, Secretary-General reviews past successes, future risks in nuclear field,' UN Press Release SG/SM/7551, September 18.

"Despite some progress in the reduction of nuclear weapons - in particular the Russian Federation's ratification of the START II agreement - there is deep concern within the international community at the major threat that such weapons continue to pose to international peace and security. The positive outcome of the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is, therefore, encouraging. For the first time in 15 years, States Parties to the Treaty were able to reach a consensus on several issues crucial to the security of all the peoples of the world. They pledged to make new efforts aimed at the total elimination of nuclear arsenals, halting the global spread of nuclear weapons and strengthening the essential standards governing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. I am also pleased that at the Millennium Summit, just two weeks ago, world leaders have resolved to keep all options open for achieving the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, including the possibility of convening an international conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers.

The Agency has played a significant role in the success of the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT. It has now an even greater role to play in verifying states' fulfilment of their obligations as further arms control and disarmament measures identified at the Conference are pursued. In this context, I welcome the Agency's continuing efforts to strengthen and improve the nuclear safeguards system. And I would like once again to urge all member states to accept the Additional Protocols to Existing Safeguards Agreements as a means of further strengthening this system.

Although the 2000 Review Conference marks a significant step forward, much remains to be done to free the world of nuclear dangers. The number of ratifications of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty has increased during the past year, but the challenges that confront its entry into force persist, especially after the United States Senate's rejection of ratification in October 1999. I reiterate my call to all states to ratify the Treaty, particularly those whose ratification is necessary for its entry into force.

We are facing yet another danger now, namely, the growing pressure to deploy national missile defences. Let me stress that within the scientific community, there is widespread scepticism that such systems could ever work effectively. There is, however, real concern that their deployment could lead to a new arms race, set back nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policies, and create new incentives for missile proliferation. I trust that states will weigh these factors very carefully before embarking on a path that could jeopardize the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and that may reduce, rather than enhance, global security."

Statement by President Clinton

Message from President Clinton, delivered by US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, September 18.

"On behalf of the American people, I extend greetings and best wishes for a successful General Conference. I am struck by the extraordinary developments and demands faced by this Agency in the seven years since I first addressed this gathering. But look how far we have come. New inspection capabilities were given to the IAEA after the crisis in Iraq and a potentially devastating confrontation with the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea was avoided. With regret we witnessed new nuclear tests in 1998, but rejoiced in the successful review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty earlier this year. These events make clear our collective and unwavering interest in curbing the awesome destructive power of nuclear technology and directing it to peaceful ends. This is a task in which - with the IAEA's help - we must succeed to avoid the terrible devastation that would result if nuclear weapons were ever used again. If the IAEA did not exist, we would have to create it. The IAEA needs strong and consistent support from all of its member states. Let's devote our best talent and the fullest resources we can to allow the IAEA to continue its work. For a small investment, the IAEA returns incalculable contributions to peace and security."

Source: Text - Energy Secretary Richardson Addresses IAEA Conference, US State Department (Washington File), September 20.

Statement by IAEA Director General

Statement by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, September 18.

"III. The Agency as an Instrument for the Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation

The 1999 Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR) points to significant progress in some areas of the Agency's safeguards implementation and a lack of progress in others. For states with safeguards agreements in force, the Safeguards Statement for 1999 concluded that all nuclear material placed under safeguards had remained in peaceful uses or was otherwise adequately accounted for. The 1999 Safeguards Statement also included, for the first time, conclusions about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in the state 'as a whole' for two states with Additional Protocols in force.

Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols

The Final Document of the Sixth [NPT] Review Conference...recognized IAEA safeguards as an indispensable component of the non-proliferation regime, and endorsed measures to strengthen these safeguards through the Additional Protocol. The Final Document also noted that 51 states party to the Treaty have not yet brought into force comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency. These unfulfilled legal obligations have been a matter of long standing concern. I am therefore encouraged that several states party to the Treaty have recently contacted the Secretariat about concluding the requisite safeguards agreements.

Since last year's General Conference, a further 9 Additional Protocols have been approved by the Board of Governors. Although this is welcome, the total number of Additional Protocols approved is only 54, a number far short of expectations. I would urge you, therefore, to assist the Secretariat in its endeavours to ensure that all states that have made a legally binding non-proliferation commitment to fulfil their obligation to conclude the required safeguards agreement; and that universal adherence to the Additional Protocol is attained. As I have repeatedly stated, without the conclusion of the required safeguards agreement, the Agency cannot provide any assurance about compliance by states with their non-proliferation obligations. And without the Additional Protocol the Agency can only provide limited assurances that do not adequately cover the absence of undeclared material or activities.

The number of states with an Additional Protocol in force has risen from 4 to 16 in the past year. Among them are states with substantial nuclear fuel cycle activities, such as Canada and Japan. Besides setting an excellent example, these developments will be a major asset to the Secretariat in terms of the activities it performs and the experience it gains.

An important measure to both strengthen and maximize the effectiveness of the safeguards system is the current development of new 'integrated safeguards.' This refers to the optimum combination of all safeguards measures available to the Agency - 'integrating' traditional safeguards measures with the measures of the Additional Protocol to ensure a system that is cost effective while achieving the maximum degree of assurance both of non-diversion of declared nuclear material and of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. Much preparatory work has been done already, and this work will be enhanced as we gain experience with the new measures under the Additional Protocol. We aim to complete the conceptual framework for integrated safeguards by the end of 2001.

Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions Relating to Iraq

The Agency has not been in a position since December 1998 to implement its mandate in Iraq under UN Security Council Resolution 687 and related resolutions. As a consequence, it is not able at present to provide any assurance that Iraq is in compliance with its obligations under those resolutions. In light of the fact that UN Security Council mandated activities ceased in December 1998, and given the requirements of the IAEA safeguards system, the Agency carried out an inspection in Iraq in January 2000 pursuant to Iraq's NPT safeguards agreement. With the co-operation of the Iraqi authorities, the inspectors were able to verify the presence of the nuclear material subject to safeguards (low-enriched, natural and depleted uranium) which is still in Iraq. As I noted at the time, the inspection was not designed to be and could not serve as a substitute for our activities under the resolutions of the Security Council. The Agency must return to Iraq if it is to fulfil the mandate entrusted to it under those resolutions and to provide the enhanced assurances sought by the Council.

Safeguards Agreement with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Since the last meeting of the General Conference, technical discussions with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have enabled us to resolve a number of minor day-to-day problems. However, there has been no significant change to the assessment made at the last General Conference. The Agency is still unable to verify that the DPRK has, in fact, declared all nuclear material which should be subject to safeguards.

With the construction phase of the Light Water Reactor (LWR) project now under way, we are coming closer to the time at which the 'key nuclear components' of the LWRs are due to be delivered. Before this can happen, the DPRK must, under the 'Agreed Framework' between the DPRK and the United States of America, 'come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement.'

There are many steps that the Secretariat needs to take and activities that it needs to carry out before it will be able to make any meaningful assessment of the correctness and completeness of the DPRK's initial declaration. Our assessment is that the entire verification process may take between 3 and 4 years to complete, depending on the results of our initial findings and on the degree of co-operation that we receive from the DPRK. We therefore need to start our work now. For that, full co-operation on the part of the DPRK is and will continue to be essential. Given the recent positive developments in the Korean Peninsula, it is my hope, as I have said previously to the Board, that the DPRK will soon be ready to commence active co-operation with the Agency toward that end. Its normalization of relations with the Agency will also help us to provide advice and expertise regarding the important safety aspects of the LWR project.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

In keeping with the General Conference mandate, I have continued my consultations with the states of the Middle East region regarding the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities in the Middle East, and the development of model agreements, that would contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Regrettably, little progress has been achieved so far. Needless to say, I will continue to use all available venues, within my authority, and with the concurrence of the states concerned, to move that mandate forward. Movement toward an overall settlement in the region will certainly boost my ability to make progress. In that context, and with the concurrence of the parties concerned, I would be ready to arrange a forum in which participants from the Middle East could learn from the experience of other regions with respect to comprehensive verification arrangements and confidence-building measures that contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone.

Other Verification Activities

The Agency Secretariat continues to make progress, in consultations with the Russian Federation and the United States of America, on the development of modalities for verifying nuclear materials excess to their military programmes. An important objective in these consultations is the ability to assure the international community that the material is irreversibly removed from military programmes. In parallel, the three parties have been engaged in discussions to identify appropriate technical means to ensure both that the Agency will be able to draw independent conclusions, and that no classified information pertaining to nuclear weapon design will be available to Agency inspectors.

In addition to these consultations, I should mention that in September the USA and Russia signed a bilateral Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which commits each Party to the withdrawal of 34 tonnes of weapons grade plutonium from its nuclear weapons programme. The Agreement provides that each party will conclude appropriate agreements with the IAEA, to allow the Agency to implement verification measures. I welcome this new Agreement as a step toward nuclear arms control. Naturally, the Agency will be ready to discuss the modalities for implementing its verification system.

Security of Material

In the area of Security of Material, a comprehensive report has been submitted to the Board and the General Conference on the activities undertaken since last year to strengthen the security of nuclear and other radioactive materials. The fact that the Agency's database on illicit trafficking now contains some 330 confirmed cases, including the seizure in April this year of almost one kilogram of high-enriched uranium, shows the urgent need to strengthen the national and international frameworks for the protection of nuclear and radioactive material.

Work is in progress to define a plan of activities to be undertaken in the area of Security of Material, as requested by the last General Conference. The prevention and detection of, as well as response to illicit trafficking of radioactive materials, will remain the core of this programme, with a primary focus on the development of standards and guides and their application in member states. ...

V. Managing the Agency...

The Agency's Programme and Budget for 2001

In keeping with the practice of recent years, the Agency's programme and budget estimates for the year 2001, submitted to the General Conference by the Board of Governors, reflect the policy of zero real growth. This policy, which has now been in place for well over a decade, has forced the Agency into an increasing and excessive reliance on extrabudgetary resources. That reliance - in the amount of over $20 million - means, in effect, that the regular budget of the Agency is underfunded in the same magnitude. This situation has a number of negative consequences: strategic planning is made difficult and less efficient; and the ability of the Secretariat to use its human resources in an efficient and effective manner is restricted. It is imperative therefore that corrective action be initiated before long, in relation to the inadequate level of regular budget funding, to ensure that our programmes can continue to be implemented with the expected effectiveness and efficiency.

Cash Flow Issues

Finally, I must express my concern - as I did at the Board of Governors last week - that the Agency has in recent months been experiencing unusually serious cash flow problems as a result of late payment or non-payment of contributions by member states. With more than one major contributor unexpectedly departing from its previous payment pattern, the Agency's cash balances declined rapidly and by the end of July the Working Capital Fund of $18 million was fully depleted. We barely managed to meet our financial obligations in July and August and were able to do so only by making a special appeal to member states for urgent payment of their contributions.

Obviously, this situation is very unsatisfactory. The Secretariat has for some time suggested an increase in the Working Capital Fund from the current four weeks of average expenditure to six weeks (other United Nations organizations have working capital funds ranging from five to six weeks). Although this measure would not by itself solve the problem, it would provide the Secretariat with a safety margin and more time to react to cash flow problems. I intend to submit a proposal to that effect to the next Programme and Budget Committee. ..."

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.