34th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 73rd Session

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09-Nov-2018 02:35:42
General Assembly hails International Atomic Energy Agency’s vital role in ensuring global security, as delegates urge universal respect for safeguards at 34th plenary meeting.

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Member States pledged their strong support for the indispensable role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy, transferring technology to developing countries and ensuring nuclear safety, as the General Assembly considered its annual report.

Adopting the resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/73/L.19) — transmitted in a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/73/315) and introduced by Jordan’s delegate — the 193‑member Assembly took note of several resolutions recently approved by the Vienna‑based IAEA. The Assembly also appealed to Member States to continue to support the Agency’s activities.

Throughout the debate, delegates commended IAEA’s efforts as the sole authority for verifying the fulfilment of safeguards obligations, with the European Union’s representative calling the safeguards system a fundamental component of the non‑proliferation regime. He stressed the need for the immediate universalization of comprehensive safeguards agreements together with additional protocols. European countries have worked to improve nuclear safety, he said, by conducting peer reviews on specific safety issues and by building a more transparent nuclear safety framework.

Others commended the Agency for providing technical assistance to developing countries — notably small States and least developed countries — and working to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The representative of Belarus said IAEA’s technical cooperation programmes, which address challenges related to social and economic development, have helped Belarus recover from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

South Africa’s delegate said his country has immensely benefited from IAEA’s scientific and technological support in the clinical management of oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Its nuclear applications, meanwhile, in agriculture, food security, human health, water resource management and animal health improve the socioeconomic development of developing countries.

Speakers also emphasized the inalienable right of every State to research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Noting that this right is outlined in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran’s representative expressed concern that the United States has withdrawn from that pact and reimposed its illegal sanctions against his country. The agreement outlines that any reimposition of sanctions while Iran remains compliant gives Iran the right to respond by wholly or partially ceasing to perform its duties. He called on the remaining participants to hold the United States accountable for its actions and ensure that his country is compensated unconditionally.

The representative of the Russian Federation called Iran “the most verified country” by the Agency. There are regular assurances that Tehran is complying with its obligations under the Plan of Action. Actions by the United States to undermine that agreement are deeply concerning. “The non‑proliferation system must remain non‑politicized,” he added.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed concern that the Agency’s report failed to acknowledge positive developments on the Korean Peninsula. “The IAEA has lost its impartiality as an international organization and is being abused for political purposes,” he said. Pyongyang has agreed to permanently shut down its Tongchang-ri engine test ground and rocket launch pad — under the observation of international experts — and is pursuing additional efforts to dismantle other nuclear facilities. However, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula can only be guaranteed if hostile relations that have persisted for decades come to an end.

On that point, Singapore’s delegate welcomed the inter‑Korean summit, which her country had hosted in June between the United States President and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Chairman. She encouraged all parties to take steps to implement the Joint Statement on the Singapore Summit, calling on Pyongyang to fulfil its Security Council obligations and return to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

In other matters, Assembly Vice‑President Sovann Ke (Cambodia) announced changes to the plenary schedule. Delegates will now consider the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council” on Tuesday, 20 November; the “Situation in Afghanistan” on Thursday, 6 December; and “Sport for development and peace” on Monday, 3 December.

Also speaking today were representatives of Jordan, Australia, Monaco, Thailand, Libya, Paraguay, China, Japan, Indonesia, Jamaica, India, Algeria, Argentina, El Salvador, Egypt, Cuba, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.

The representative of Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 14 November, to appoint members to the Joint Inspection Unit, United Nations Dispute Tribunal and United Nations Appeals Tribunal.

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