Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia

67th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference - National Statement

67th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference

Australia's National Statement

Delivered by H.E Ambassador Ian Biggs, Head of Delegation and Resident Representative of Australia to the IAEA

27 September 2023



It is a great privilege for me to address this General Conference today.

Australia is a founding member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and we remain steadfastly committed to the IAEA’s goals.  Australia commends the work of the Director General and the staff of the Agency, at a time when the Agency – and the world – face a range of challenges. 

The work of the IAEA is more important than ever. The unique combination of mandates – to ensure the safe and secure use of nuclear technology, to spread the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons – makes the Agency critical to preserving a global environment conducive to peace, security and development. It plays a vital role in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which represent our collective vision for a better world.

And yet, at a time when we should be unifying to address these shared challenges, we find ourselves confronting the most challenging strategic circumstances since the Second World War. International security is deteriorating as the actions of some states strain the rules and norms that underpin our peace and security.


Australia continues to condemn, in the strongest terms, Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s blatant disregard for Ukraine’s sovereignty and the security assurances provided under the Budapest Memorandum, its nuclear threats and its so-called suspension of New START stand in sharp contrast to the intent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We remain gravely concerned by the nuclear safety, security and safeguards implications of Russia’s reckless actions in Ukraine. We condemn Russia’s continued control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. We call on Russia to cease hostilities and withdraw immediately from the site, and from the whole of Ukraine.

Australia commends the IAEA’s commitment to monitoring the situation at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, including establishing a continuous presence at all Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

We are pleased to support the IAEA’s work in Ukraine, including through the provision of more than 1.6 million dollars in funding and protection equipment in support of the safe and secure operation of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.  We look forward to supporting the resolution on Ukraine being proposed by Canada, Finland and Costa Rica at this Conference.


We remain deeply concerned by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s failure to resolve outstanding and serious safeguards issues in a full and technically credible manner. Most recently, and on the eve of this conference, Iran’s decision to de-designate several IAEA inspectors contradicts cooperation between the IAEA and Iran.

Australia calls on Iran to reverse all steps away from the JCPOA and recommit to full compliance with its nuclear-related commitments, including implementation of the Additional Protocol. Australia extends our continued appreciation to the Agency for its professionalism, impartiality and dedication in respect to its crucial work in Iran.


Australia condemns, in the strongest terms, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s ongoing pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.

This year, we have seen the DPRK recklessly pursue tactical nuclear weapons and announce efforts to launch a nuclear-armed submarine, while its illegal ballistic missile testing continues at pace. We are deeply concerned by indications that the DPRK likely remains ready to conduct a nuclear test at the Punggye-ri site.

The DPRK’s illegal and destabilising actions call for a strong and united response by the international community. We urge the DPRK to cease provocations, reverse course, and make a sustained commitment to diplomacy and a return to full compliance with IAEA safeguards and the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state, allowing the return of IAEA inspectors. Australia appreciates the Agency’s preparedness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme and commends the IAEA’s activities to enhance and maintain this capability. We will again co-sponsor the resolution on the DPRK at this Conference, and call on all Member States of the IAEA to do so as well.


Amid these strategic challenges, the world cannot lose sight of our commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Agency must be supported in its work to promote equitable access to the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.

Nuclear applications make a vital contribution to human health, climate-smart agriculture, and the protection of the environment. We commend the IAEA’s flagship initiatives in these relevant areas, including the recently launched Atoms for Food initiative.

Australia has a proud history of supporting the IAEA’s work on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. We are pleased to announce that, this year, Australia will contribute a further 3.5 million dollars to support the IAEA’s efforts to deliver tangible outcomes in our region using nuclear science and technology.

Our funding will improve access to affordable, equitable and sustainable radiotherapy services and to building the cancer care workforce in the Asia-Pacific and in Africa, through the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative.

We will also support the IAEA’s Global Water Analysis Laboratory (GloWAL) Network to help to make water resource management in the Pacific and Southeast Asia more sustainable.

Our funding will also support the valuable work the agency is doing to increase opportunities for women in nuclear, by funding the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme, including for candidates in our region. We are committed to achieving gender equality and advancing the empowerment of women and continue to encourage the Agency to build an inclusive workplace that supports diversity.

And to mark Australia’s chairing year of the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Asia and the Pacific, we will make a contribution under that agreement to advance regional training, capability development, and impact assessments in nuclear science and technology. I’d also like to invite you all to Australia’s side event this Thursday morning on Impactful Partnerships in Nuclear Science and Technology in the Asia and Pacific Region, to highlight the benefits of regional cooperation in addressing common developmental priorities.


Australia continues to use our own leading nuclear science and technology expertise and world-class nuclear science infrastructure to address global challenges. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is continuing to construct a first-of-a-kind waste treatment plant for the liquid by-product of Molybdenum-99 nuclear medicine. This plant, which is currently in the fit-out phase, uses Synroc technology: a low-risk solution for the final disposal of complex intermediate and high-level radioactive waste. Australia will be presenting on this development at this year’s Scientific Forum, and we encourage interested Member States to attend.


The full impact of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology can only be realised when the world is guarded against the misuse of nuclear material or technology. 

The IAEA, through its role in ensuring strict adherence to safeguards obligations, is central to the global non-proliferation architecture. We welcome the IAEA’s continued progress, in cooperation with Member States, on measures to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of IAEA safeguards. Australia sees the combination of a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol as the contemporary standard for verification. We call upon all States that have yet to bring an Additional Protocol into force to do so as soon as possible.


In mid-March this year, the Leaders of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced the Optimal Pathway for Australia to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines. We welcomed the Director General’s statement following this announcement in March, and his report on Australia’s naval nuclear propulsion program to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in June. We also welcomed his statement to the Board on naval nuclear propulsion issued in response to questions raised at the June meeting (2023/Note-44). These reports and statements acknowledged AUKUS partners’ ongoing commitment to maintaining the integrity and the strength of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and to the fulfilment of our respective non-proliferation obligations.

The Director General has confirmed the IAEA will develop a safeguards approach for Australia’s naval nuclear propulsion program which will enable the Agency to continue to meet its technical safeguards objectives established for Australia, including through an Article 14 arrangement.

We remain fully committed to ensuring our approach meets the highest non-proliferation standard. We, and the Director General, have been clear that Australia’s Article 14 arrangement will not remove nuclear material from IAEA oversight. Throughout the lifecycle of Australia’s program, the Agency will be able to continue to verify and conclude that there has been no diversion of declared nuclear material, no misuse of facilities, and no undeclared nuclear material or activities.  Australia reaffirms that we do not seek to establish a template or model Article 14 arrangement. When developing an Article 14 arrangement for Australia or any other state, the Agency will need to account for state-specific factors.

We welcome and fully support the Director General’s undertaking to transmit Australia’s Article 14 arrangement, once developed, to the Board of Governors for appropriate action. Consistent with our commitment to maintaining transparent and open engagement, we will continue to provide updates and share details of our approach with the international community, as appropriate.


The Agency has a busy agenda and we take this opportunity to reiterate our confidence in and support for the Director General and staff of the IAEA.  Among its many roles, the IAEA has a critical part to play in monitoring the discharge of ALPS treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and assessing Japan’s application of international safety standards. Australia has full confidence in the IAEA's independent, impartial, and science-based technical advice. We welcome the IAEA's commitment to provide ongoing monitoring and periodic review during the discharge, including maintaining an on-site presence at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We also welcome Japan’s ongoing transparency and international engagement including with Pacific Island countries in relation to the discharge and expect this to continue.


We note with concern the pressing issues that the IAEA is facing in relation to its budget.  Australia is committed to working with the Agency to address these pressures, to ensure it can preserve the broad range of activities within its mandate and its central role in the global non-proliferation architecture. We continue to pay our assessed contributions to the Agency in full and on time and we urge others to do the same.

We would like to end by reiterating Australia’s unwavering support for the independence, mandate and technical authority of the IAEA. Under the leadership of Director General Grossi, the Agency’s staff work diligently, professionally and impartially.  You have our full confidence and respect.

Thank you, President.