At the outset, I would like to congratulate your Excellency, Mr. Alyar Lebbe Abdul Azeez of Sri Lanka on your election as President at this year’s General Conference. We thank Director General Amano for his statement and for the Annual Report 2013and congratulate himonthe excellence displayed in his continued leadership of this organization, which has proved a fruitful partnership for developing countries’ socio-economic development, including my country Afghanistan. We also commend the strong efforts of the IAEA Secretariat to this end.
The delegation of Afghanistan welcomes the Union of the Comoros, the Republic of Djibouti, The Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Vanuatu to the IAEA family. We are confident that the new members will have a mutually beneficial relationship with the organization.
The IAEA General Conference is a great opportunity for all of us to come together to address the developments of the past year and to discuss the continued challenges we face in international peace and nuclear security. Transparency and cooperation in the areas of nuclear power and security are vital to ensuring that our world remains safe and healthy for future generations. Though, efforts in developing nuclear applications are relatively new in Afghanistan, we have greatly benefited from our co-operation with the IAEA. Therefore in my remarks I will focus on the current status of nuclear applications in Afghanistan in particular the ongoing technical cooperation between Afghanistan and the Agency.
As Afghanistan is preparing for the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) towards a self-reliant economy, nuclear science and technology will have a crucial role in achievingour national development agenda during this critical decade and beyond. The Country Program Framework has already facilitated cooperation between Afghanistan and the Agency in some of the important areas and sectors such as radiological safety and nuclear security infrastructure; human health in particular cancer control; agriculture and food; water resources management; energy planning and human resources development which remain key to achieving our goals as set out in our national development agenda throughout the Decade of Transformation.
On our part, we are committed to continuing our efforts to further developthe institutional and regulatory framework required for peaceful nuclear technology applications. Today, I have the pleasure to have with me, Mr Nazifi,Director General of the Afghanistan Atomic Energy High Commission (AAEHC)who has been leading such efforts in the country. Training and capacity building remains a key component of the efforts being made by the AAEHC.The IAEA has provided considerable capacity building opportunities to the High Commission in the form fellowships and training courses.However, still a lack of funds indicates the need for further cooperation and support by the IAEA and the international community at large.
The Agency’s technical cooperation activities are of great importance for Afghanistan and our entire region, and Afghanistan therefore considers it essential that the resources of the Technical Cooperation Fund be sufficient, assured and predictable. Taking this opportunitylet me express Afghanistan’s appreciation for all the contributions pledged to the Technical Cooperation Fund for 2015. Afghanistan greatly appreciates the support and assistance that has been received from the
IAEA under various technical cooperation projects and looks forward to the expansion of such cooperation under future projects.
Over the past year, the main focus of technical cooperation between Afghanistan and the IAEA has been on three key projects, with a number of others in the initial developing stages. The establishment of a Radiation Oncology Centre; a Radiology Diagnostic Centre; and Radiotherapy and Radiology Services in Kabulare extremely important to Afghanistan, as there are no cancer-related diagnostic and therapeutic services anywhere in the country and rare are the patients who can afford to travel abroad for treatment. The IAEA and Afghanistan have been successfully engaged in this project since 2005 which has resulted in the completion of the relevant bankable document in 2013. The project document is now ready for submission to the donor community. Fundraising is therefore crucial for the implementation of this important project. Under this project,
Seven fellowships were recently approved by the IAEA for the Afghan candidates to receive a specialized training in diagnostic radiology. As there is no suitable training platform for specialists in this field in the country, such fellowships and training programs for the Afghan candidates are vital to ensure that the center, when operational, will possessthe requiredspecialists to maintain the standard of the hospital. Also, to ensure that those specialists who have been trained in the past can be kept up to date on new advances in technology, we would appreciate the IAEA’s assistance in facilitating our expert’s attendance at regional conferences and facilitating the donation of
specialist equipment such as for mammography and ultrasounds to ensure the high quality of the services provided at the center.
The second key project is the development of the draft regulations of Afghanistan for the Safety of Radiation Sources. The first draft ‘Nuclear Law of Afghanistan’ is under review and we hope that it soon will be ratified. The relevant Afghan authorities and experts, with close consultation with the IAEA are working to make the regulations more focused on health and agriculture and a working plan has been created to lead the way for the projected completion of the project by the beginning of 2015. However, we continue to need experts from the IAEA to support us throughout this project to improve the regulations from a technical perspective and to assist with further training of the relevant Afghan team and the relevant AAEHC staff in general.
Thirdly, concerning the Radioactive Source Regulatory Infrastructure Development Project (RIDP),the bilateral meeting on the implementation of the RIDP in Afghanistan took place in Vienna, from 26 to 27 May 2014. The discussions in the meeting were focused on different elements of the current status of Afghanistan’s radiation safety regulatory infrastructure with the objective to identify gaps and priority needs, and to develop an initial short term action plan to be implemented accordingly under the RIDP project.
In this regard let me reiterateAfghanistan’s strong commitmentto the implementation of its safeguard agreements with the IAEA. We are following this subject closely and hope to improve cooperation on this subject to a further extent in the coming year.
Afghanistan fully supports the establishment of the Middle East WMD Free Zone and respective regional consultations to achieve this goal. We emphasize the central role of the IAEA in this process. The Government of Afghanistan welcomes any confidence-building measures in this complex region, as well as any similar positive steps towards elimination of WMD arsenals. Afghanistan supports all efforts to convene the Helsinki Conference prior to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, which would contribute to a reliable non-proliferation regime.
Afghanistan as a prime victim of international terrorism strongly supports all efforts geared at strengthened global nuclear security. We understand that the security framework is constantly changing. Therefore, the IAEA, having a central role in ensuring nuclear security, must have the full support of all member states, in order to be able to fulfil its mandate. Afghanistan looks forward to the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in the United States in early 2016 and to the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security to be held in December 2016.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to mention the excellent work of the CTBTO and the VCDNP here in Viennaand call on their continued and possible increased training and capacity building opportunities.
Before closing, let me reiterate that Afghanistan attaches great importance to the IAEA’s technical cooperation projects under the Country Programme Framework and remains confident that more effective use of various activities under the CPF will have greater impact. We certainly would like to encourage increased transfer of know-how and more capacity-building programmes from countries with advanced nuclear and radiological standards, which could also serve as an important step in shifting from mere assistance to proper cooperation. We value the efforts of the IAEA in all areas in assisting developing countries in gaining further access to nuclear technologies and we believe this must be a priority for the post-2015 development agenda, due to the important role access to energy plays in poverty reduction and improving health and livelihoods in developing nations.
I wish to conclude by reiterating the importance of continued cooperation between Afghanistan and theIAEA in the future and we are grateful for all the assistance we have received thus far.
Thank you, Mr. President