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IAEA Annual Report Presented to UNGA

William Marsh, U.S. Senior Advisor
Statement Before the Fifty-seventh UN General Assembly, in Plenary
New York, New York
November 11, 2002

Released by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations

On behalf of my government, I would like to thank Dr. ElBaradei for his presentation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) annual report (A/57/278) to the General Assembly. It is an excellent report.

We see in this year's report a clear escalation of demands on the Agency. This is not a new phenomenon. In the face of new challenges and expanding needs over the past two decades, the IAEA has repeatedly been called upon to do more -- more in nuclear safety, more in safeguards, and in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11 [2001], more in nuclear security.

There are many reasons why the international community turns to the IAEA as a means to address difficult problems. The Agency has a unique international charter and a proven track record of excellence. Time and again it has responded quickly, effectively and comprehensively to new challenges. It has deservedly earned a reputation as one of the most effective and well-managed of all the international organizations.

Today, the IAEA is confronted with some of the most difficult problems facing our world. These include the critical need to address Iraq's and North Korea's non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other non-proliferation commitments, the urgency of preventing acts of nuclear terrorism, and the continuing need to strengthen the international safeguards system.

States long ago realized that the proliferation of nuclear weapons would gravely undermine their security. For many years, the international community has labored to create strong barriers to the further spread of nuclear weapons. Over time a web of international treaties, verification systems, export controls and bilateral and multilateral commitments has been woven that collectively we refer to as the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The bedrock of this regime is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreements that it mandates. The commitments made by states to abide by the terms of the NPT and their safeguards agreements are binding international obligations. But commitments are without value if not backed with full compliance. Both Iraq and North Korea have accepted these commitments. And both are in serious violation of them. Additionally, the international community has concerns regarding the commitment of other states.

Compliance

Throughout the seven years of UN weapons inspections, Iraq lied about its nuclear capabilities and program to develop nuclear weapons. It continues to violate its international obligations by withholding experimental data, material account logs, and other nuclear-related technical documents. Ongoing illicit procurement activity, including attempts to acquire thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes that can be used in gas centrifuges, suggests that Iraq is as intent as ever on attaining nuclear weapons and flouting its NPT requirements and UN Security Council mandates.

From 1991 to 1998, the IAEA Action Team largely succeeded in dismantling Iraq's nuclear weapons program. Despite this achievement, Iraq's nuclear potential was not completely eliminated. It still possesses the scientific and technical expertise needed to develop nuclear weapons and, in the four-year absence of inspectors, has had increased opportunity to do so. In partnership with UNMOVIC, the Action Team is now poised to resume inspections in Iraq. Its role is to verifiably ensure that Iraq has entirely eliminated its nuclear weapons program. The Security Council resolution (1441) passed on Friday gives Iraq one final chance to comply. Failure to do so will lead to serious consequences.

North Korea must also comply with its obligations. Let me be clear. The D.P.R.K. has violated the NPT and its NPT safeguards agreement, violated the Agreed Framework, and violated the Joint North-South Denuclearization Agreement. The D.P.R.K. has violated its NPT safeguards commitments since 1993.

The 1994 Agreed Framework between the U.S. and the D.P.R.K. seemed to offer a means to address D.P.R.K. non-compliance. It would not provide a shield for North Korea's continued violations of the NPT. Since 1994 the IAEA has maintained a continuous presence at North Korea's nuclear center at Yongbyon, monitoring the freeze of the North's plutonium production capacity. But the recent revelation of North Korea's uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons represents an outrageous act of bad faith on North Korea's part. The D.P.R.K. must completely and verifiably dismantle that program. I am confident IAEA is prepared, as appropriate, to be part of resolving North Korea's unquestionable breach of its non-proliferation commitments.

Combating Nuclear Terrorism

Meanwhile, the world community must prevail in its fight against the heightened threat posed by international terrorism. Last March, the IAEA Board of Governors approved a comprehensive program to strengthen nuclear material security worldwide. This program is now underway, and the IAEA is providing valuable support to strengthen the ability of states to combat nuclear terrorism through better physical protection, better nuclear material accounting and control systems, and better control of other radioactive materials. The IAEA is helping to improve states' regulatory structures and practices and enhance emergency response capabilities. In these and many other ways it is reducing the risks posed by terrorists and benefiting us all.

Regrettably, funding for this work, which comes almost exclusively from member states' voluntary contributions, is not adequate. The United States has provided much of the funding for this work to date. I urge all IAEA members to support this work and provide the necessary funding. The modest cost of this effort to thwart nuclear terrorism is an unparalleled bargain compared with the cost of nuclear terrorism.

Strengthening IAEA Safeguards

The discovery of Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program in the early 1990s touched off criticism of IAEA safeguards for failing to detect Iraq's deception sooner. Based on lessons learned in Iraq, the IAEA has crafted an entire new dimension to safeguards.

Over the past ten years, intensive efforts by the IAEA and its member states have led to adoption of a new Model Protocol. In states where Additional Protocols are in force, the IAEA has new safeguards tools and capabilities that strengthen its ability to detect secret or "undeclared" nuclear activities. States now have the opportunity to help strengthen international safeguards and by doing so to strengthen their own national security. My government commends all those states that have already brought their Protocols into force and urges all others to do so as quickly as possible. In this connection, I am pleased to recall that President Bush transmitted the voluntary U.S. Protocol to our Senate for advise and consent to ratification on May 9 of this year.

Conclusion

Whether countering non-compliance, terrorism or gaps in safeguards, the IAEA brings commitment and competence to the tasks at hand. The men and women who comprise the IAEA Secretariat have consistently demonstrated noteworthy dedication and professionalism.

But it is abundantly clear that the IAEA can continue to excel only if it receives the support it needs from its member states. And the facts are nothing short of alarming. The Director General has repeatedly warned that inadequate funding is bringing the safeguards system ever closer to the brink of failure. In 2002, the safeguards system is underfunded by tens of millions of dollars. States bent on pursuing nuclear weapons will have an ever easier time if safeguards become ineffective. The IAEA's safeguards budget needs to be increased so that the IAEA can implement the effective safeguards we need.

The IAEA's program to counter nuclear terrorism also falls short of the funding it needs for full implementation of the program approved by the Board last March. In short, collectively we have put tremendous responsibilities on IAEA's shoulders. The key question is whether collectively we will provide the necessary support for it to handle these responsibilities now and in the future. Let us all ensure the organization has the support it both needs and deserves.

Thank you.



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