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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 60, September 2001

Documents & Sources

IAEA General Conference

45th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, September 17-21, 2001.

Notes: on September 20, the Conference elected 11 member states to the Agency's 35-member Board of Governors. The new board members are: Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kuwait, Morocco, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Turkey. The remaining members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States. See IAEA Press Release 2001/20, September 20, for more details.

On September 17, the Conference approved by acclamation the appointment of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, of Egypt to a second four-year term as the Agency's Director General.

Summary of Meeting

'States back steps to strengthen Agency's main pillars for nuclear verification, safety, technology,' IAEA Press Release 2001/22, September 21.

"States meeting at the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have backed steps to reinforce the Agency's three main pillars of work related to nuclear verification, safety, and technology. ... Earlier today, states adopted a resolution on the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities to strengthen programmes related to prevention of nuclear-related terrorism. ... Other major actions are highlighted below, grouped under the three main pillars. In addition, the Conference approved the Agency's programme and budget for 2002, which allocates expenditures of $245 million and sets a target of $73 million for the Technical Cooperation Fund.


Strengthening the IAEA Safeguards System. States reaffirmed their conviction that safeguards can promote greater confidence among states and thus contribute to strengthening their collective security. They backed measures being taken and planned to more fully integrate and modernize the system. States emphasized the importance of safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols which grant the Agency broader verification authority for detecting possible undeclared nuclear activities and materials.

Nuclear Inspections in Iraq. States called upon Iraq to cooperate fully with the Agency for the implementation of nuclear monitoring and verification activities mandated by the United Nations Security Council. They welcomed the fact that the IAEA remains ready on short notice to resume its UN Security Council-mandated inspections in Iraq which were suspended in December 1998.

Safeguards in Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). States adopted a resolution backing the full implementation of IAEA verification responsibilities in the DPRK. The IAEA is continuing to monitor the 'freeze' on facilities under the 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and DPRK, but it remains unable to verify fully the DPRK's initial 1992 declaration of its nuclear programme. States welcomed the IAEA's proposal to the DPRK earlier this year of the first 'concrete steps' required for the verification process and the Agency's stated readiness to start this work without delay. They strongly encouraged the DPRK to respond positively. ..."

Resolution on Nuclear-Related Terrorism

'IAEA General Conference Adopts Resolution on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities; Agency to Redouble Efforts to Combat Nuclear-related Terrorism,' IAEA Press Release 2001/21, September 21.

"The IAEA General Conference adopted today a resolution that emphasizes the importance of physical protection of nuclear material in preventing its illicit use and the sabotage of nuclear facilities and nuclear materials.

'The tragic terrorist attacks on the United States were a wake-up call to us all,' said Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director General. 'We can not be complacent. We have to and will increase our efforts on all fronts - from combating illicit trafficking to ensuring the protection of nuclear materials, from nuclear installation design to withstand attacks to improving how we respond to nuclear emergencies.'

'Unanimously, Member States at this General Conference called on the Agency to embark on a thorough review of its programmes,' he said, 'to see what we can do to enhance security of nuclear material and facilities.'

'Of course, this is likely to require significant extra resources,' Mr. ElBaradei said. 'I am confident that IAEA member states will rise to the challenge.'

In response to the resolution, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency will be looking at ways to increase its information, advisory and training functions to help member states to ensure in their countries that:

  • nuclear regulatory infrastructure is in place;
  • nuclear material, other radioactive materials and facilities are properly protected against theft and sabotage;
  • the detection measures and equipment at borders and elsewhere are effective in combating illicit trafficking;
  • plans are in place to respond effectively to such events; and
  • issues regarding nuclear installation safety are addressed.

'In any case, we need to keep these risks in perspective. People with evil intent can do great harm to civilization and the targets reach across all areas of modern society. We can't build fortresses or become police states,' Mr. ElBaradei said. 'Nuclear, like any other technology we benefit from, has its vulnerabilities and no absolute guarantees exist. But we should not lose sight that nuclear power plants are among the most secure and robust industrial facilities in the world.'"

Message from UN Secretary-General

'Nuclear disarmament progress even more important after terrorist attack on United States says Secretary-General to Atomic Energy Agency meeting,' UN Press Release SG/SM/7958, September 17.

Note: the message was delivered to the Conference by Steinar Bjornsson, Deputy-Director of the United Nations Office at Vienna.

"The IAEA plays a key role in our collective efforts to achieve the twin goals of peace and development, and has been a catalyst for the development and transfer of peaceful nuclear technologies, as well as assisting the international community in curbing nuclear weapon proliferation.

Making progress in the areas of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament is more important than ever in the aftermath of last week's appalling terrorist attack on the United States. The states parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons agreed last year that this challenge could not be overcome by halfway measures. Indeed, they concluded that 'the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons'. Regrettably, several important treaties aimed at nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament or nuclear reductions still await entry into force. It is vitally important for the world community to continue its efforts to implement the commitments already made, and to further identify the ways and means of achieving nuclear disarmament as soon as possible.

Looking towards the future, it is evident that broad international cooperation is essential to upgrade the physical protection of nuclear material, to improve capabilities for intercepting and responding to illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and other radioactive sources, and to enhance the protection of facilities against terrorism and sabotage. Another issue of fundamental importance is the enhancement of nuclear safety worldwide. I would like to commend the IAEA for its efforts in assisting the people affected by the Chernobyl accident, and in enhancing safety levels in the hope that an accident of this nature is never repeated.

Finally, I would like to urge the IAEA to further develop its work in developing the use of nuclear energy for sustainable development. Coupled with your work in identifying environmentally sound sources of energy, these efforts can help transform nuclear energy into a universal force for progress and peace. ..."

US Statement

'Remarks by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham to the 45th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria, September 17, 2001,' US Department of Energy transcript (http://www.energy.gov).

"I particularly value the opportunity to address this important group for the first time, although I could only wish it were under better circumstances. ... I was deeply moved by the memorial service offered here commemorating those killed in the terrorist acts of September 11. ... My nation has suffered an appalling catastrophe. And so I stand before you today, representing a President and a nation in mourning for the loss of thousands of its citizens. But it is a President and a nation fully resolved to recover and to respond to this vicious act of terror that took place last Tuesday. ...

Despite these unspeakable acts, the work of our government continues. Congress is acting quickly and in consensus to give assistance to those who have suffered because of these attacks, to begin the long job of rebuilding, and to support the President. I am particularly proud of the employees of my Department who were back at work the day after the terrorists struck, making sure they did their part to keep the government operating as it should.

So today let me focus on this issue of immense concern to all of us and on the critical role of this agency. In particular, I want to discuss the global effort, led by the IAEA, to ensure that nuclear materials are never used as weapons of terror. This is the primary reason, despite the calamity America suffered not even a week ago, that President Bush asked me to be here today. As you know, we now have many urgent priorities in our government as we deal with the worst terrorist attack in our history. But this meeting is also a priority for the President. What's more, I can think of few better ways to signal our resolve than to stand together with nations that join us in condemning terrorism, as was done last week at the UN. But more than that, to stand with nations that are working actively to prevent future acts of barbarism. ...

Clearly, terrorists will attack any target, so no one will be immune. And clearly terrorists will use any method. This fact sends an unmistakable message to the IAEA. The work of this agency will become more important...as we move into the 21st Century. This Agency's role in preventing the spread of dangerous nuclear materials, providing physical security over these materials, verifying peaceful uses of nuclear energy, advancing science, and monitoring technology transfer. Each of these functions becomes more central to international security in the days and years ahead.

We cannot assume that tomorrow's terrorist acts will mirror those we have just experienced. This is why the work of the IAEA is so pivotal. Preventing terrorist acts underlies our continuing and robust support for this Agency. We know our security, and that of nations around the world, largely depends upon what this Agency does to prevent the proliferation and the misuse of nuclear materials. Even as we face a global terrorist threat, the IAEA role in helping us meet global energy demands remains vital to the well being of our people and to international security. To underscore our commitment to these critical functions, allow me to read a message from the President of the United States to this General Conference:

'... On September 11, the United States was attacked by terrorists in a series of vicious and despicable acts of violence. America, and our friends and allies will stand together and will win the war against terrorism to ensure peace and security for the world. As you gather for the 45th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, I urge you to advance the role of the IAEA in securing international peace and well being. The IAEA is central to the world's efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. For more than 40 years, the IAEA and its member states have established safeguards for special nuclear materials and the facilities that produce them. Much more remains to be done, and we will look to the IAEA to continue serving as a critical instrument to help combat the real and growing threat of nuclear proliferation. ... The United States has a long tradition of strong support for the IAEA that my administration will continue. ...'

The IAEA Role in Nuclear Security

... This Agency plays a vital role in ensuring that the civilian use of nuclear power is only for peaceful purposes and that the materials which could be used to create nuclear weapons are properly guarded and carefully accounted for. ... The IAEA safeguards system is also critically important to the security of the United States and the entire international community. For example, last year, the Agency carried out over 2,500 inspections at nearly 600 facilities in 70 countries. By demonstrating that states are adhering to their international non-proliferation commitments, it creates public confidence in nuclear power. These are substantial responsibilities. Indeed, the IAEA has a long and fruitful history of promoting the international implementation of good physical security practices and of cooperation to prevent illicit nuclear trafficking. The United States welcomes the Agency's efforts in these matters, and encourages all governments to review, and where necessary, to upgrade their own efforts in this area.

America stands behind these efforts and our commitment to combating proliferation is strong. In addition to our unwavering support for the IAEA's non-proliferation activities and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we're dedicated to finding fresh and creative approaches to solving proliferation problems. In that regard, the US is already working with Russia and other countries to improve physical protection on hundreds of tons of plutonium and enriched uranium.

Earlier this year, the US hosted the annual plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The Group's 39 members adopted the basic principle that nuclear exports must be prohibited in cases where there is a significant risk of diversion. We call on all states to implement nuclear export controls in keeping with this principle. We need to strengthen international commitments and cooperation on the physical protection of nuclear materials, particularly those that can readily be converted to weapons use.

But there's more to be done and we will seek approaches that are responsive to today's...environment. Addressing new circumstances and new threats will require increased international cooperation and vigilance. It is essential for all of us to adjust our policies accordingly. Our initiatives will emphasize two principles: cooperation and accountability. We will work with others, but we expect others to act responsibly as well. We expect the members of this body to prohibit nuclear exports in cases where there is a significant risk of diversion.

Each of the initiatives and programs undertaken by the IAEA...to strengthen non-proliferation efforts around the world will bear fruit in greater international security. We stand behind you in these efforts and we see them as fundamental. All of us are now entering very difficult times. I am grateful that in those times we will have a strong and vibrant IAEA. ..."

Russian Statement

'Statement by the Head of the Russian Federation Delegation A. Rumyantsev to the 45th Session of the IAEA General Conference, September 17, 2001,' Russian Foreign Ministry transcript (http://www.ln.mid.ru).

"First of all, let me express our sincere and profound condolences to the Delegation of the United States, the American people, to all the victims and the families of those who perished after unprecedented act of aggression on the part of the international terrorism. ...

For the purpose of maintaining strategic stability and international security the Russian Federation attaches great significance to maintaining and strengthening multilateral treaties in force in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Our standpoint breathes a high spirit of responsibility of Russia as a nuclear power. We proceed from the assumption that the existing system of international agreements in the field of strategic stability did not lose its relevance [at the end of the Cold War] and remains a basis for maintaining security. Therefore we are not convinced by statements that the ABM Treaty of 1972 has become obsolete. After the Cold War no new global mechanisms were established to ensure security in missile and nuclear sphere and therefore the ABM Treaty continues to play the key role in the system of international agreements in the field of security, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Our concrete initiatives to strengthen strategic stability are well known. The constructive program proclaimed by the President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin provides, inter alia, for the reduction of the Russian and the US strategic offensive weapons to 1,500 nuclear warheads for each country by 2008 and further reduction later. It offers also concrete measures to strengthen non-proliferation regimes and to prevent arms race in space.

The disposition of excess weapons materials and reduction of nuclear weapons complex in Russia are important elements of nuclear disarmament. At present, due to successful implementation of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation of February 18, 1993, on the utilisation of highly enriched uranium (HEU) extracted from nuclear weapons, about 5,000 warheads have been irreversibly destroyed and this is only one third of the work done. We may also speak about the progress in conversion of nuclear weapons complex enterprises. For example, large premises of Avangard plant in the city of Sarov have been released to accommodate a new Conversion Factory for Instrumentation dedicated mainly to production of medical instrumentation.

The time has come to start discussing strategic issues within the framework of multilateral mechanisms with participation of five nuclear powers - permanent members of the UN Security Council - who bear special responsibility for maintaining international security, implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and other international arrangements.

[The] NPT is undoubtedly the most fundamental treaty in the nuclear sphere. This Treaty has been a determinant of the international security system for more than 30 years. We attach great importance to fulfilment of the provisions of the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. We believe that the success of the Conference was conditioned by achievement of the precise balance of interests in this document. The Conference decisions undoubtedly strengthen the role and significance of the IAEA as a universal body for co-operation among the states in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The document reconfirms that the parties to the Treaty enjoy the right to have a wide access to benefits of peaceful uses of atomic energy and an independent choice of their nuclear fuel cycle structure. ...

A package of legal instruments was adopted in Russia in July which allows import of irradiated nuclear fuel for storage and reprocessing. The law provides for development and implementation of special environmental programmes for rehabilitation of radiation contaminated regions of the Russian Federation, which we will be able to fund from revenues gained through foreign-trade operations with irradiated nuclear fuel. Now we have wider opportunities to accept return of spent fuel from nuclear power plants for reprocessing, especially from those plants which have been constructed and operated with our participation. These new laws also provide for an option to lease fuel, which ensures that spent fuel is returned to Russia. All this will undoubtedly contribute to further development of international cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy. Considering spent fuel reprocessing technologies as one of the most sensitive elements of nuclear fuel cycle we believe that by reprocessing SNF [spent nuclear fuel] in Russia we support, inter alia, the strengthening of nuclear non-proliferation. ...

The Annual Report indicates that during the past year the Agency managed to implement practically all major programmes in accordance with the envisaged plans. We highlight such an important area of the Agency's activities as application of safeguards which is directly related to maintaining the regime of non-proliferation. ...

Strengthening of the IAEA safeguards system is being implemented on the background of a rapidly changing world. New enterprises, nuclear technologies and facilities emerge, and nuclear power operations and development result in growing quantities of nuclear material. The Agency's verification efforts are increasing correspondingly. Taking into account the necessity to maintain real zero growth budget we believe that the only way to resolve the problem of insufficient funds for the verification activities of the Agency is to develop new resource-saving approaches and verification measures. The radical changes in approaches are needed, which would be based on nuclear fuel cycles of the countries and use of new verification technologies. And moreover, it is necessary to implement more actively the developments achieved by the Agency in this area. It is also necessary to note the Agency's role in the possible international verification of fissile materials released in the course of real nuclear disarmament. In our opinion, an example of the above is the Trilateral Initiative aimed to study various aspects of verification by the IAEA of some excess fissile weapon-origin materials in Russia and the United States. ..."

IAEA-US-Russia Trilateral Initiative

'IAEA Verification of Weapon-Origin Fissile Material in the Russian Federation and the United States,' IAEA Press Release 2001/19, September 18.

"The Secretary of Energy of the United States, Spencer Abraham, Minister of the Russian Federation on Atomic Energy, Alexander Rumyantsev, and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, met in Vienna on 18 September 2001 to review progress on the Trilateral Initiative. The Initiative was launched in 1996 to develop a new IAEA verification system for weapon-origin material designated by the United States and the Russian Federation as released from their defence programmes. The removal of weapon-origin fissile material from the defence programmes of the Russian Federation and the United States is in furtherance of the commitment to disarmament undertaken by the two states pursuant to Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. 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 programmes.

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 defence 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.

In the technical area, the three parties are collaborating in developing and testing special verification equipment for use with classified forms of plutonium. This equipment 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. A prototype of such equipment has been demonstrated in the United States and the United States and Russian Federation are developing contracts to support the design, construction and testing of such a measurement system in the Russian Federation. The three parties are also collaborating on an inventory monitoring system that will assure the IAEA has continuity of knowledge once an item of material is verified and placed in storage to assure the material remains in storage as declared by the state.

A number of technical workshops were conducted in the past year. A technical workshop was held in the United States at the Sandia National Laboratories in November 2000 to consider appropriate inventory monitoring techniques. A second technical workshop was held at the Plutonium Fuel Production Facility of the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute in April 2001 to consider how state-of-the-art safeguards systems employed for non-proliferation purposes could be adapted for disarmament verification. In addition, a technical visit was made in March 2001 to BNFL in Sellafield, United Kingdom to observe measurement and monitoring activities in a large plutonium storage facility.

Significant progress was made in the development of a model for the Subsidiary Arrangements that provide details for the implementation of the new agreements. These Subsidiary Arrangements include such items as the facility-specific information, reporting requirements, the technical criteria for verification and the inspection procedures to be applied. Specific facilities being considered under the agreement are the Mayak Fissile Material Storage Facility in the Russian Federation and the Savannah River K-Area Material Storage Facility and the Lynchburg Babcock and Wilcox Uranium Downblending Facility in the United States.

Secretary Abraham, Minister Rumyantsev and Director General ElBaradei reviewed the progress of the past year and committed their respective organizations to a work programme aimed at the completion of a new verification agreement, the Subsidiary Arrangements, the specific verification arrangements for the facilities identified by the states and the development of specialized verification and inventory monitoring systems. Secretary Abraham, Minister Rumyantsev and Director General ElBaradei agreed that the Principals would meet again in September 2002 to oversee the implementation of the Trilateral Initiative."

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.