Global events over the past year have had a substantial impact on the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), UN General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi said on Wednesday, as countries met to debate its latest report.
Mr. Kőrösi thanked the agency’s chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi, for his leadership, as well as its experts “who have risked their lives to bring about nuclear safety and stability at a time of interlocking crises”.
Ukraine nuclear fears
It has been three months since the IAEA deployed personnel to the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in war-ravaged Ukraine.
These experts are working around the clock to ensure the safety and security of the power plant, and to prevent a nuclear disaster.
Speaking about the Mission, Mr. Kőrösi recalled that the Zaporizhzhya facility is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and the ninth largest in the world, producing energy for some four million households.
“We simply cannot allow nuclear safety in Ukraine and beyond to be jeopardized”, he said. “I urge all parties to cooperate fully with IAEA to ensure nuclear safety”.
Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula
Turning to other regions, the General Assembly President stated that moves to erode nuclear non-proliferation regimes are very dangerous and constitute a major threat to peace and security.
“Cooperation is critically important on the Korean Peninsula, where alarming breaches of security norms have taken place, along with systematic undermining of IAEA safeguards. This threatens to destabilize the fragile peace in the region”, he warned.
The IAEA also has a central role to play in establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
He urged countries in the region “to cooperate fully with the Agency, with a view to achieving peaceful co-existence through confidence building and transparency”.
Tackling environmental challenges
As more countries turn to nuclear energy to meet their needs, especially in the face of energy shortages, the IAEA’s responsibility to ensure that nuclear technologies are safe, secure and peacefully used has only grown, said Mr. Kőrösi.
He recalled that at the COP26 UN climate conference last year, “nuclear energy was high on the global climate agenda, and IAEA opened new opportunities of the use of nuclear techniques in tackling pollution and other environmental challenges”.
The latest summit, COP27, is now underway, and he encouraged engagement around two issues: climate change and the energy supply crisis, and the connection between nuclear energy and the environment.
The General Assembly President concluded his remarks by wishing the IAEA further success in its work to increase the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.