The General Conference of the IAEA, which is scheduled to last five days, was opened today Monday Sept. 17 2012, at 10am in the M building of the UNOV. The opening session was attended by hundreds of high-level government representatives of the IAEA’s member states, international organisations, NGOs and dozens of journalists representing media from all over the world.
Before the background of the current political climate, it was only natural that the greatest interest of the journalists and camera teams attending the opening session was for the teams of the conflicting states Iran and USA. At the opening session were present for Iran Mr. Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran’s nuclear energy chief and Ambassador Ali Asgar Soltanieh. The USA sent a big team,
Mr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, US Department of Energy, Mr. Daniel Balzer, from the US Department of State and others.
The delegation of Israel, the third party of the well-known conflict, was nowhere to be seen at the opening session of the conference. The seats reserved for them remained empty during much of the session until much later, when representatives of another country occupied those seats so as to help keep them reserved for the Israeli delegation. Click on the image to enlarge it.
IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano delivered a statement during the opening session in which he highlighted the Agency’s major programmes, activities and developments. He said that the nuclear power remains the best known peaceful application of nuclear energy.
Mr. Amano said: “In my remarks this morning, I will consider how we have addressed these issues in recent years. I will also outline some ideas for responding to the challenges which we will face in the future”. He added: “I will start with technical cooperation. This is a high priority for the Agency because it helps to meet basic human needs. Through the technical cooperation programme, we help to make nuclear technology available to our Member States for peaceful purposes”.
Mr. Amano appointed that in the last few years, world leaders have given considerable attention to the threat of nuclear terrorism. They have recognized the Agency’s central role as the global platform for strengthening nuclear security. We have unique technical competence in this field. We will significantly expand our nuclear security activities in the coming years.
Amano said about the case of Iran: “I have presented the situation with the utmost clarity since 2010. The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. Therefore, we cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”. The full speech of director Amano is here.
During this IAEA five-day conference some topics of major interest for the agency and its member-states will be addressed. In particular it will focus on developing the IAEA’s programs relating to nuclear, radiation and waste safety; nuclear security, nuclear science, technology and applications, and technical cooperation.
The General Conference of the IAEA elected Ambassador Barros Oreiro as President of the IAEA’s 56th General Conference on 17 September 2012. The conference also approved the applications of the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Republic of San Marino for membership in the IAEA.
Last but not least it should be noted that four demonstrators, who apparently were kindly provided by the Israeli government press office, protested against the conference. The protesters were seen holding a very professional protest with placards, a table and propaganda flayers outside the UN building, speaking in Hebrew amongst themselves and in English to passers-by. The four demonstrators apparently were not of interest to any of the many journalists or photographers at the UN; I happened on them by accident.