General Assembly: 31st Plenary Meeting, 77th session

Preview Language:   Six Official
09-Nov-2022 03:03:29
Speakers stress key role of technical support, nuclear safeguards, as General Assembly considers International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual report, adopts related text.

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The General Assembly, acting without a vote, today took up the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and adopted a related resolution.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly reaffirmed its strong support for the indispensable role of the Agency in encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses, in technology transfer to developing countries and in nuclear safety, verification and security. The Assembly also appealed to Member States to continue their support for the Agency’s activities.

The Assembly also had before it a statement from Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, introducing the Agency’s annual report for 2021 (document A/77/308/Add.1). Since the start of the military conflict in Ukraine, the IAEA has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. Four IAEA missions have travelled to Ukraine — three of them under Mr. Grossi’s direct leadership — which resulted in the implementation of a comprehensive support programme. The IAEA has also established an ongoing presence at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and has called for the implementation of a nuclear safety and security protection zone.

The shift to more nuclear power brings to the fore the indispensable work of the IAEA, Mr. Grossi said through his statement. As new technologies create new opportunities and as nuclear science and technology support the Sustainable Development Goals, the IAEA is ensuring that no one is left behind. Safety and security norms and international legal frameworks will continue to remain strong, flexible and forward-looking. His statement then highlighted the Agency’s activities to verify and monitor the nuclear-related commitments of States as well as its technical cooperation support to countries. The IAEA will ensure that Member States have access to the resources and knowledge of nuclear science, technology and its applications.

Many delegates spotlighted the technical assistance and capacity-building support their countries received from the IAEA in support of national development efforts, with several also stressing the Agency’s importance as the sole competent authority on safeguards.

Within the Latin American and Caribbean region, the IAEA has provided technical assistance on social and economic development by focusing on human health, radiation safety, food, agriculture, water and the environment, Ecuador’s representative shared. Its technical cooperation programme responds to Member States’ priorities and needs to help countries build their capacities, he noted.

Malaysia’s speaker added to the chorus of praise and called for sufficient, assured and predictable resources for the Agency’s cooperation assistance. Programmes should continue to be developed in a professional, impartial and non-discriminatory manner. They cannot be subjected to any political, economic, military or other conditions incompatible with the IAEA’s provisions, he stressed.

His colleague from Namibia echoed the call for increased funding while underscoring the importance of gender equality as a key enabler for women’s participation in all spheres of development.

Turning to the situation in Ukraine, the representative of Japan condemned the Russian Federation’s threat to use nuclear weapons as a serious and unacceptable menace to the peace and security of the international community. Never before have nuclear risks emanated from a nuclear-weapon State, Ukraine’s delegate said. “For generations, the Russian Federation will be remembered as the only country that seized and occupied peaceful nuclear facilities,” he declared. Nuclear safety and security, Lithuania’s representative added, can only be ensured by the unconditional withdrawal of the Russian Federation’s armed forces and military equipment from Ukraine.

Responding to the allegations concerning his country, the speaker for the Russian Federation underscored the defensive nature of his nation’s doctrine and directed attention to the documents circulated within the Assembly and the Security Council. “In a nuclear war, there is no winner and it should never be unleashed,” he said.

The dangers facing Ukrainian nuclear plants, Mexico’s representative pointed out, have demonstrated the Agency’s exceptional, timely, and necessary work.

Several delegates also raised continuing concerns, with some urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran and Syria to cooperate with the IAEA and comply with their obligations.

So long as the Agency follows in the footsteps of the United States’ hostile policy, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will not engage, its speaker replied. Instead of wasting its time by interfering in his country’s internal affairs, the IAEA should focus on issues such as nuclear proliferation, he said.

In highlighting his country’s continued cooperation with the Agency, the representative for Iran said safeguard-related verification activities must support the Agency’s function without obstructing the economic or technological development of States. Unlawful unilateral coercive measures and dual standards, he lamented, have adversely affected the peaceful use of nuclear energy and hampered technical cooperation.

Kazakhstan’s delegate, speaking also for four other Central Asian States, spotlighted the “current, impermissible, unfair and discriminatory circumstance” whereby IAEA member States are not affiliated with a regional group. These “homeless” States are deprived of their sovereign right to be elected to the IAEA’s governing bodies and continue to be excluded from most information, advisory, consultative and decision-making processes. While Kazakhstan will defer the submission of its resolution on the restoration of sovereign equality until the next IAEA General Conference, all member States and the IAEA secretariat must take immediate action to resolve this unacceptable and continued violation, he said.

Also delivering statements were the representatives of the Czech Republic, Egypt, Singapore, Pakistan, South Africa, India, Argentina, Indonesia, Colombia, Philippines, Poland, Guatemala, Iraq, Albania, Algeria, Slovenia, Ireland, Kuwait, Cuba, Bangladesh, Australia, Honduras, Monaco, Chile, El Salvador, Nigeria, Belarus, Republic of Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union in its capacity as observer, as well as the Sovereign Order of Malta.

Delegates from Israel, Lithuania, Iran, Belarus and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 November, to take up its agenda item on the situation in Afghanistan, consider the Secretary-General’s related report and take action on an associated resolution.

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