Third day of the 55th IAEA General Conference

Posted by () on Sep 21 2011
VERTIC Blog >> Arms Control and Disarmament

Sonia Drobysz and Kate Farrell, Vienna

During the third day of the 55th IAEA General Conference, country statements concluded, safeguards were deliberated, and discussions were held on nuclear safety in the wake of the Fukushima accident. With only two days of discussion left, some progress has been made on finalising texts. However, contentious issues remain regarding a nuclear security resolution and the language used to describe the Additional Protocol.

Country statements conclude in the plenary
With country statements concluding in the plenary, member states continued to note the importance of learning lessons from Fukushima and enhancing overall nuclear safety. The Norwegian delegation addressed the importance of nuclear security. In particular, Norway called upon all states to ratify the amendment of the Convention of the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and implement United Nations Resolution 1540. New Zealand and Spain joined Norway in expressing these sentiments. In addition, the importance of access to nuclear power and technologies for the purposes of development remain high on the agenda.

Beside these major themes, Indonesia insisted on the need for the IAEA to develop further guidance to enable swift national implementation of safeguards legislation. Concerns over the nuclear activities of Iran and Syria also arose in national statements. In particular, anomalies within the safeguards reports on these two states remained a matter of concern. In response the delegate from Syria stated that his country responded to Agency concerns by submitting letters on the 26 May and 24 August 2011. Venezuela also questioned the validity of concerns regarding the nuclear activities of Iran and Syria.

Differing perspectives over the importance of the Additional Protocol (AP) emerged again during the plenary. Syria on the one hand stated that the Additional Protocol must remain a voluntary measure. On the other hand, the Swedish delegate, who was joined by many other states, stressed the importance of the AP as the new safeguards standard. Other concerns were raised regarding the nuclear developments within the DPRK. Informal discussions held outside the plenary may be pursuing a resolution on this matter, which could be introduced to the plenary over the coming days.

Safeguards and nuclear security resolutions
Parallel to country statements, deliberations continued in the safeguards working group as a third draft resolution was tabled. Contentious issues such as those regarding the language on the AP and the Agency’s authority to give assurances on the correctness and completeness of state declarations, arose again today as they did yesterday. Other aspects of the text were also further discussed, such as the confidentiality of safeguards information and the mention of an ‘information-driven’ and ‘objectives-based’ safeguards system.

Progress was finally made on negotiations for a nuclear security resolution. Like last year, reference to nuclear security summits (held in Washington in 2010 and to reconvene in Seoul in March 2012) was problematic to some delegations. Aside from these disagreements, the remainder of the text was agreed upon. The Committee of the Whole will hopefully report to the plenary tomorrow on this item of the agenda, as well as on the other issues discussed.

Fukushima side event
The International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists (INENS) hosted a side event today entitled ‘Nuclear Safety After Fukushima: Steps Taken and Future Directions’. For further information on the discussions see the INENS website.

Last changed: Sep 21 2011 at 9:06 PM

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