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

IAEA 66th General Conference: Regional Cooperative Agreement Ministerial Level Meeting National Statement

66th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference

Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) Ministerial Level Meeting National Statement

H.E Ambassador Richard Sadleir, Governor and Resident Representative of Australia to the IAEA

26 September 2022


Thank you Chair.

Honourable Ministers, Director General Grossi, Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

Australia is a proud supporter and member of the RCA, which has achieved much for our region since its inception 50 years ago.

Australia joined the RCA in 1977, and since then, we have been sharing our multi-decade experience in operating the advanced multipurpose reactor, OPAL, and its predecessor, HIFAR, for peaceful nuclear research and the production of nuclear medicines.  This has led to the development of health, environmental, and industrial outcomes that address both regional and global challenges. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, ANSTO, who is the custodian of OPAL, should be proud of these achievements as it prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary in a few months’ time.

Chair and distinguished delegates,

As we seek to further strengthen collaboration through the RCA, which continues to fulfil its critical role in uniting Member States in both discussion and practical development of peaceful nuclear science and technology applications, Australia would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our engagement in, and commitment to, the framework provided by this invaluable network.

Australia continues its support of the broader RCA objectives in the areas of human resource development, training and knowledge transfer. Australia’s in-kind support, including through the provision of experts at training courses and at high-level technical meetings, demonstrates our commitment to the peaceful development and application of nuclear science and technology in the region and further afield. This year, Australia participated in sixteen RCA projects and served as Lead Country Coordinator on four projects in the areas of human health and environment, with notable involvement in marine monitoring.

Australia is honoured to hold the position of RCA Chair for 2022-2023 and we look forward to welcoming delegates to Sydney in May next year for the 2023 National Representatives Meeting. This meeting will provide a platform to further cement the productive relationships between our 22 Member States, advance the strategic direction of the RCA and deliver upon our region’s needs.

Our enduring commitment to the RCA is demonstrated by our announcement at the National Representatives Meeting in April this year of over $600,000 in extra budgetary funding, to deliver a project to strengthen cancer care and research by training radiation oncology health professionals.

Australia also announced an extra-budgetary contribution to fund an independent feasibility study on the long-term sustainability of the proposed RCA Scholarship Programme.  This will advance the objective of improving human resources development in the Asia-Pacific region. A well-designed, sustainable program, which has the support of all Government Parties, will contribute to a better resourced nuclear science and technology industry for our region over the next decade and beyond.

Finally Chair,

Australia would like to express its sincere gratitude to Viet Nam for its excellent chairing and stewardship of this important forum throughout 2021-2022, and to all RCA Government Parties, National Representatives, focal points, country coordinators, project leaders and the IAEA Secretariat for demonstrating solidarity and agility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and for your – and their – continued engagement and cooperation as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the RCA.

Across its 50-year span, it is clear that RCA has succeeded in delivering vast and profound benefits for our region. Australia looks forward to continuing the critical work of the RCA for decades to come to.

Thank you, Chair.