Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani Head of the delegation of Afghanistan and resident representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the 57th annual regular session of the IAEA General Conference under Agenda Item 8. General Debate and Annual Report for 2012
At the outset I would like to congratulate you on the assumption of your important task in presiding over the 57th General Conference and express to you and to the Members of the Bureau my delegation’s full support. I thank H.E. Ambassador Carlos Barros Oreiro of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay for his excellent Presidency at last year’s General Conference.
Let me seize this opportunity and extend my appreciation to the Director General, H.E. Yukiya Amano, for his outstanding leadership, and also to his commendable team in the IAEA Secretariat. I congratulate the DG for his re-election and wish him every success to effectively implement the mandate of IAEA. Afghanistan also welcomes our newest members from the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and Brunei Darussalam.
Each year we gather on this important occasion to demonstrate our shared conviction that the IAEA General Conference is the key international forum to reflect on challenges we all face, and discuss how to ensure the secure and peaceful use of nuclear science and technology, to serve and benefit all humanity. Therefore, we all must seize this opportunity to enhance dialogue and cooperation, to support IAEA programs and its broader mandate of promoting a safer and better world for our future generations. We in Afghanistan, based on our belief in the effectiveness of multilateralism through strong regional and international cooperation, are ready to do our part for the success of IAEA and the implementation of its mandate.
Afghanistan highly appreciates the central role and mandate of the IAEA in its efforts to strengthen global scientific and technical cooperation on nuclear safety and security through universal, independent and transparent mechanisms. In particular we support their efforts to help member states to address related socioeconomic problems, prevent proliferation, and advocate for the cause of environmental safety.
Since Afghanistan does not use nuclear energy, I will restrict my remarks to the issues of technical cooperation, nuclear applications, nuclear safety, security, and safeguards. Afghanistan relies on the cooperation with the IAEA in a number of areas high on our national agenda. Its pivotal role in technical cooperation and nuclear appliances, as well as its efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, remain at the center of our attention. Afghanistan highly values and derives considerable benefits from its collaboration with the Agency. We greatly value the IAEA’s collective, multilateral approach and welcome the Agency’s culture of continuous learning and the quality of its research, data and publications. Afghanistan, with IAEA’s support, has drafted a “nuclear law,” the finalization process for which has been completed. We are also drafting radiation protection regulations, transportation of nuclear material and waste management regulations, and the final draft of CPF has been submitted to the IAEA for assessment.
I would like to stress the importance of our technical cooperation with the IAEA, in particular in the area of human health. Afghanistan and the Agency are currently working on the establishment of a Comprehensive Cancer Control Center at Aliabad Teaching Hospital of Kabul Medical University and based on the documents of this bankable project we will approach donors for funding support. Furthermore, work continues to establish a Nuclear Medicine Service at Kabul’s Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health. In this context, let me express our appreciation for the continued hard work and excellent cooperation of the Agency’s Afghanistan desk officer, Ms. Petra Salame.
Over the past decade, Afghanistan, with the continued support by its partners in the international community, made significant progress in various areas, one of which is the establishment of the first Afghan Atomic Energy High Commission (AAEHC), which still needs the continued and enhanced technical, financial and training support to build its capacity, fulfill its mandate and successfully discharge its responsibilities. For our part, Afghanistan is committed to do its best, by ensuring an effective mechanism to enhance the cooperation between the AAEHC, NLO and the Focal Points within the relevant line ministries and governmental institutions. We want to realize the maximum benefit of IAEA’s programs and projects in the country to meet our MDGs and National Priority Programs.
To this end, Afghanistan remains a strong advocate of adequate financing for the Agency, with a view to enabling the IAEA to undertake its important tasks comprehensively and effectively. Certainly, all resources must be pooled where possible, and utilized efficiently and transparently. Afghanistan commends all donors for their generous contributions towards the Technical Cooperation Fund, which remains essential to addressing today’s global challenges, in particular of LDCs and supporting the sustainable development The Government of Afghanistan also seeks increased measures aimed at usage of nuclear and isotopic applications in the country, in areas including but not limited to agriculture and water resource management.
With regards to the renovation of the Agency’s Nuclear Sciences and Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf . I wish to emphasize the key role of the IAEA in research and development, capacity-building, education, training, and provision of technical services. Afghanistan also supports all efforts to involve existing core partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), but also invite the non-traditional partners and potential donors from the private sector to support the IAEA.
Afghanistan supports all measures geared at strengthened nuclear safety regimes. The tragic events that unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in March 2011 continue to shape our debate on safety and its implications. We commend the work of the IAEA and several Member States in identifying safety measures to be implemented, including improved global communication in this area. Potential trans-boundary impacts of nuclear accidents remind us of the universal nature of the issue of nuclear safety.
With regards to nuclear security, let me state that Afghanistan fully shares the view of the Agency, expressed in the August 2013 report by the Director General, that nuclear or other radioactive material that could be used in criminal or other intentional unauthorized acts remains a matter of concern. It is recognized that responsibility for nuclear security rests entirely with each State, yet, anticipated global growth in nuclear applications and both complex and transnational ramifications require increased support by the Agency to assist States in exercising their sovereign responsibility to secure their nuclear material. As a victim of terrorism, we in Afghanistan believe, terrorists will not spare using any weapon against innocent people and a potential terrorist attack utilizing nuclear or radioactive material constitute a serious threat to the international peace and security. In this regard we welcome the strong Nuclear Security Plan adopted for the period 2014-2017, and commend all Member States that have made fresh pledges to the Nuclear Security Fund.
Safeguards and verification are also among the central tasks of the Agency, and it should be provided with adequate capabilities in order to duly conduct its important safeguards program. Clearly, a fully functional, robust safeguards regime is the prerequisite for nuclear disarmament. Afghanistan highly values the Agency’s efforts in this area and appreciates all extra-budgetary and in-kind contribution from Member States. We encourage all Member States that have not yet done so to conclude a Safeguards Agreement and to bring into force the Additional Protocol.
Afghanistan invites all concerned States to take further steps towards nuclear disarmament.
We believe that safe and secure utilization of nuclear energy and related technologies requires close and sincere international cooperation, and Afghanistan pledges its continued support to the IAEA to maintain its central role in this area. We look forward to continuing our constructive cooperation with the Agency and its Member States. It should be our shared goal to harness peaceful applications of nuclear and radiological techniques.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to reiterate Afghanistan commitments in its close cooperation with IAEA and to convey the sincere appreciation of the Afghan people to our friends and partners for all their support and assistance as we continue our transition in this decade of transformation toward a self-reliant, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.