GA: High-level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security

Last updated: 9/23/2011 // This statement was given to the General Assembly in a Plenary Session on the 22th of September 2011. It was given by the Norwegian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide. The Norwegian position is that the International Atomic Energy Agency must remain the primary instrument to ensure that nuclear materials are used in the safest and securest way possible and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Secretary General, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The nuclear accident in Fukushima has once again demonstrated the uncertainties and risks linked to the development of nuclear energy. We must draw lessons from this and improve not only nuclear safety, but also emergency preparedness and response both nationally and at a global level.

The accident reminds us of a fundamental lesson: that even the improbable does sometimes happen – and we therefore need to be prepared for the unthinkable. Also, we need to remind ourselves that the risk of accidents may actually grow, given the likely increase in the use of nuclear energy worldwide. I would like to thank the IAEA for all its efforts in recent months – and I would also like thank the Secretary-General for calling this conference to discuss further improvements.
Nuclear safety is indeed a national responsibility, but the accident in Fukushima underlined that nuclear accidents will never be a national concern only – and they can only be dealt with through international cooperation. Information sharing between nations, both directly and through the IAEA, and not least the provision of accurate, timely and relevant information to the public at large are crucial in this respect.
The IAEA is a focal point for our work, and we must make sure that the Agency is equipped to take on these and future challenges. Funding for vital IAEA activities is still not adequate. Norway has consistently argued that the IAEA’s regular budget must increase in proportion to its tasks in order to ensure a sustainable effort in the field of nuclear safety. In the meantime, Norway has allocated 2.5 million euros to support the IAEA’s work to strengthen safety capacity in developing countries. 

Secretary General,

Norway was one of the initiators behind the International Action Plan for Strengthening the International Preparedness and Response System for Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies. We would like to take this opportunity to commend the IAEA Secretariat and member states for their comprehensive and excellent work in this regard. The challenge now, for all of us, is to ensure proper implementation of the recommendations in this Action Plan and in the new IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, which was approved by the IAEA Board last week (and by the IAEA General Conference this week).

Finally, nuclear safety cannot be dealt with in isolation from nuclear security, non-proliferation and disarmament. It is a global concern to make sure that nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation are all dealt with in a coordinated manner to minimise the various inherent risks of nuclear power, both multilaterally through the IAEA and nationally. In doing so the full potential of the rights to peaceful uses enshrined in the NPT can be fully realised.

Nuclear safety efforts will always be an essential to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and complementary to our joint efforts to promote non-proliferation and a world free of nuclear weapons. Only through a comprehensive approach to these issues can we make sure that nuclear power will be safe, secure and not used for military means.
Norway fully supports the follow-up of the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington last year, and contributes actively in areas such as minimising the use of highly enriched uranium in the civil sector. Norway also contributes financially to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and to efforts to ensure the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540.

Yet, the IAEA must remain the primary instrument of the international community both to ensure that nuclear materials are used in the safest and securest way possible and, not least, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In brief, Norway would like to see an IAEA that is as strong as possible in all these fields.

Thank you.

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