November 25th, 2007 05:31 EST
IAEA Head Briefs Board of Governors on Nuclear Issues
IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei today addressed the IAEA Board of Governors on a variety of topics, including the Agency´s 2008 Technical Cooperation (TC) programme, the implementation of safeguards in Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the status of the August work plan agreed to by Iran and the IAEA, and budgetary issues. The Board is meeting this week in Vienna.
Commenting on the IAEA´s TC programme, Dr. ElBaradei said: "While the spotlight is often focused on the Agency´s nuclear verification role, much of our activity is centred on helping Member States address their development needs. With our TC programme, we are highlighting how peaceful nuclear technology can be used to address poverty, hunger and disease - crises that, regrettably, are too often given less visibility on the global stage."
Regarding the Agency´s work in implementing safeguards in the DPRK, the Director General asserted the IAEA´s commitment to the implementation of safeguards in the country. "We (IAEA) stand ready to assume a verification role as and when requested," he stated.
Dr. ElBaradei then addressed the Iranian verification issue, noting that progress has been made in the work plan. "The work plan agreed by the Secretariat and Iran in August, in which Iran has finally committed itself to address the outstanding issues relevant to its nuclear activities, is proceeding according to schedule," he stated. Later, the Director General urged Iran to take all the confidence-building measures called for by the Security Council, including the suspension of enrichment related activities. "The earlier that negotiations are resumed, the better the prospects of defusing this crisis. It is only through such negotiations that a comprehensive and durable solution can be reached, and that confidence in the future direction of Iran´s nuclear programme can be built," he said.
Dr. ElBaradei also warned of the issues confronting the Agency´s capabilities in light of essential funding requirements. Speaking specifically on the status of the Agency´s Safeguards Analytical Laboratory, he warned of the consequences of budgetary constraints on the IAEA´s capacity to deliver on its mission. "The Agency´s ability to provide independent and timely analysis of safeguards samples is at risk because of ageing technical infrastructure and analytical equipment at our Safeguards Analytical Laboratory," he said.
After the speech, the Board of Governors moved to formally recommend membership for Oman to the Agency´s General Conference, which will deliberate on the issue at its next meeting.