Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

5 November 2012 - Statement to the United Nations General Assembly

5 November 2012

Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Statement by the Hon Laurie Ferguson
Member of Parliament of Australia



Mr President,

Australia commends Director-General Amano for his report on the achievements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the challenges it will face over the coming years.

As a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, Australia takes very seriously the responsibilities this entails. We attach great importance to the central role played by the IAEA in improving the safety and security of nuclear activities; enlarging the humanitarian contribution of nuclear technology; and verifying States’ non-proliferation commitments.

Mr President,

In the post Fukushima accident era, Director-General Amano’s ongoing actions and initiatives have improved international nuclear safety, particularly through the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety.

The Action Plan is a strong and practical demonstration of the priority the international community attaches to achieving the highest possible standards in nuclear safety. We encourage States to be proactive in undertaking the actions outlined in the Plan, and any additional actions that are relevant to their own circumstances.

Australia welcomes the positive outcomes of the August 2012 Extraordinary Meeting of Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, especially the upgrading of the rules and guidelines that will strengthen nuclear safety through more comprehensive national reporting and robust peer review processes.

Mr President,

While important, safety measures are not the only elements required to properly protect people and the environment. The IAEA’s nuclear security program and its role in international nuclear security initiatives and activities are equally important.

The IAEA safeguards system is one of the central pillars of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. To be completely effective, the IAEA’s safeguards system must have universal coverage. Universalisation of the NPT is indispensable to the system. We continue to call on those States that have not signed and ratified the Treaty to do so as soon as possible, and to place their nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. And we continue to call upon all those States Party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which have yet to fulfil their relevant obligations under the Treaty to conclude Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and also to conclude Additional Protocols, and to do so without delay.

States must comply with their safeguards obligations. IAEA safeguards obligations are not voluntary. It is therefore a matter of deep concern that certain States continue to be in breach of their safeguards obligations. We call upon these countries to engage with the Agency to resolve all issues, demonstrate conclusively the peaceful intent of their nuclear activities, and comply fully with all of their international obligations including to address the concerns of the international community. Australia commends the Agency for its continuing efforts to resolve these issues.

Mr President,

Australia continues to support the Agency in developing safeguards techniques and approaches. Recently the University of Western Australia became the newest member of the Agency’s Network of Analytical Laboratories and in this role will analyse environmental samples, with the ability to detect illicit nuclear activities.

Mr President,

Australia is committed to working closely with the Agency and our regional neighbours in the Asia Pacific, on peaceful applications of nuclear energy. Australia shares its skilled scientific research base, equipment and personnel with regional neighbours and other Member States, and we provide strong support to the Agency’s Technical Cooperation program.

The Agency plays a vital role in enhancing States’ capabilities to prevent, diagnose and treat health problems through the use of nuclear techniques. We should never lose sight of such humanitarian benefits, to which the IAEA is uniquely able to provide worldwide support.

Australia has recently announced an expansion of its nuclear medicine production capability which, in coming years, will be able to supply a large part of global need for medical radioisotopes. It is crucial that we advance both health outcomes from nuclear medicine and global nuclear non-proliferation efforts by minimising the civilian use of high enriched uranium. Our new facility is based solely on the use of low enriched uranium. Australia is also further developing its specialised nuclear waste management technology, Synroc, to encapsulate and store safely the waste from its expanded nuclear medicine production.

Finally, Mr President,

The external environment in which the Agency operates is highly fluid, and we must ensure the Agency has the capacity to respond quickly and effectively to external developments, be they related to nuclear safety, physical protection, nuclear proliferation or sustainable development.

Australia will continue to provide the technical, financial and political support to ensure the Agency can help States meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Australia is pleased to co-sponsor the resolution on the Report of the IAEA. Thank you.