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"I greatly appreciate your very swift response, and your organization's work in general. It's a terrific source of authoritative information."

– Lisa Beyer
Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
IAEA Maintains Programs During Pandemic


October 2020

The 12 months since the last regular session of the General Conference have been unprecedented in the history of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

(Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA)We spent several months in lockdown from March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were able to begin a phased return to the Vienna International Centre in May, but things are still far from normal, as is clear from the special arrangements made for this GC.

During the lockdown, we continued to implement safeguards throughout the world to prevent any misuse of nuclear material and we launched the largest operation in the agency’s history to help countries confront the coronavirus.

Thirteen hundred consignments of equipment for virus detection and diagnosis and other supplies have been delivered, or are in transit, to 123 countries.

Fighting the coronavirus will remain our top priority until the pandemic is finally defeated.

As far as safeguards implementation is concerned, we continued to carry out all of our most time-critical in-field verification work, while rescheduling some less urgent activities, such as equipment installation and maintenance. For the first time, we chartered aircraft to enable our inspectors to reach their destinations.

The number of states with safeguards agreements in force stands at 184, 136 of whom have brought additional protocols into force.

The performance of state or regional authorities (SRA) and state systems of accounting for and control of nuclear materials (SSAC) has a direct impact upon the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards implementation

I have therefore launched a new initiative, known as COMPASS, to help States further strengthen the effectiveness of their SRA and SSAC. Building on existing capacity development programs, this initiative will offer additional, tailored assistance to member states.

I report regularly to the Board of Governors on Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its safeguards agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran continue.

Last month, I went to Tehran for discussions with President Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials. We reached agreement on the resolution of some safeguards implementation issues raised by the Agency. The agency subsequently conducted a complementary access, under the Additional Protocol, at one of two locations specified by us. Our inspectors took environmental samples which will be analyzed. A complementary access at the second specified location will take place later this month.

I welcome the agreement between the agency and Iran, which I hope will reinforce cooperation and enhance mutual trust.

The agency continues to monitor the nuclear program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), using open source information, including satellite imagery.

The DPRK’s nuclear activities remain a cause for serious concern. The continuation of the country’s nuclear program is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable.

I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the agency in the full and effective implementation of its NPT safeguards agreement and to resolve all outstanding issues, especially those that have arisen during the absence of agency inspectors from the country.

The agency is intensifying its readiness to play its essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear program.

The IAEA low-enriched uranium bank in Kazakhstan, a last-resort mechanism intended to give countries confidence that they will be able to meet their future needs for nuclear fuel, is now fully stocked and operational.

The great benefits of nuclear technologies are sustainable only if they are used safely and securely.

The IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, known as ICONS 2020, was held at ministerial level in February, It was a great success, with a record 54 ministers and 141 countries participating.

A Ministerial Declaration reaffirmed support for the central role of the agency in international cooperation to ensure that nuclear and other radioactive material is properly protected.

As I have said before, I believe that funding for the IAEA’s nuclear security activities needs to be put on a more sustainable footing. Nuclear security is much too important to be dependent on extra-budgetary contributions, as is the case today.


Adapted from remarks by IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi to the agency’s annual General Conference on Sept. 21.