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Statement by the Head of the Australian delegation to the 61st Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference

Australian National Statement

61st Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference

 

Ambassador Brendon Hammer

Governor and Permanent Representative to the IAEA

 

19 September 2017

 

Madam President

Peace, health and prosperity. These are the goals which drive the agenda of the international community.

This year we gather here to shape the IAEA’s role to enlarge the contribution of atomic energy in support of those goals.

We therefore welcome the tireless efforts of Director General Amano and the Agency in promoting peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology, enhancing nuclear safety and security, and implementing safeguards.

 

Madam President

Australia congratulates the IAEA on the success this year of the International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme.

The Conference showcased the excellent work the Agency does to improve social, economic and environmental outcomes using nuclear techniques.

For our part, Australia continues to transfer our knowledge and expertise under the Technical Cooperation Programme.

In June, we ratified and helped bring into force the new Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology in Asia and the Pacific.

This agreement will help embed regional cooperation – and the benefits this brings – particularly to developing countries.

 

Madam President

Australia is a strong advocate for gender equality. We applaud Director General Amano’s commitment to champion gender equity in the Agency.

And we are particularly pleased to co-chair – with Mexico – the newly established Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear.

This Group aims to increase representation of women in the Agency’s Secretariat – particularly in technical areas and in senior management.

We know that attaining gender parity will further improve the Agency’s performance.

 

Madam President

Australia continues to support the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology.

I am pleased to report that construction of Australia’s new large-scale molybdenum-99 processing plant is now complete.

This facility – with a capacity of 25 per cent of current world needs – will help secure the global supply of this life-saving nuclear medicine.

Construction of a co-located Synroc waste treatment plant will commence in 2018.

This plant will further demonstrate Synroc’s viability for management of molybdenum-99 and other waste streams.

Australia is also increasing its collaboration in helping to develop next generation nuclear reactor designs.

Last week, we deposited our instrument of accession with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency to complete our membership in the Generation IV International Forum.

We now look forward to working with other Forum partners to increase the safety, sustainability and proliferation resistance of nuclear power reactors.

 

Madam President

Nuclear safety is a firm and unwavering commitment of Australia.

We were pleased to note that at the 7th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety the majority of Contracting Parties – including Australia – reported that current practice enshrines the principles of the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety.

Australia will undergo an Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission in 2018. This demonstrates our commitment to the international peer review system and to continuous improvement in the regulation of nuclear and radiation safety.

Pursuant to that commitment, Australia is pleased to have been nominated as a vice-president of the Sixth Review meeting under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management to take place in May 2018.

 

Madam President

Australia appreciates the services the IAEA provides for states to enhance their nuclear security regimes.

In particular, we look forward to hosting a follow-up International Physical Protection Advisory Service mission later this year, and we commend this service to all states.

Australia also congratulates the IAEA on the successful International Conference on Nuclear Security in December 2016.

Having attracted over 2100 participants from 139 Member States, the associated Ministerial Declaration highlights the global importance of nuclear security and affirms the IAEA’s central role in it.

 

Madam President

The essential pre-condition for cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy is confidence that nuclear material and technology is not being diverted for non-peaceful uses.

All Member States must therefore work together to ensure an effective IAEA safeguards system with universal coverage.

This system needs to be independent, credible, and adequately resourced.

Australia considers a comprehensive safeguards agreement with an Additional Protocol to be the international standard for verification.

Achieving the universalisation of the Additional Protocol is in the national security interests of all States, so we call on all those that have not yet brought it into force to do so as soon as possible.

 

Madam President

Australia has joined with the entire international community in utterly condemning North Korea’s flagrant disregard of successive United Nations Security Council and IAEA resolutions through its repeated testing of nuclear weapons and weapon delivery systems.

This behaviour represents an unacceptable threat to global peace and security.

Australia will continue – with others – to urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs in a complete and verifiable manner, and to come into compliance with its international obligations, including UNSC and IAEA resolutions.

Meanwhile, Australia welcomes the Director General’s advice that Iran continues provisionally to apply its Additional Protocol and that it is cooperating with the Agency in implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

 

Madam President

The work of this agency has never been more relevant or important.

Australia commends and supports its ongoing work in advancing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy while preventing diversion of nuclear material and technology to non-peaceful uses.

Thank you.