Vienna – I am pleased to send greetings to the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It has been an eventful year since your last session, marked by extraordinary challenges that were transformed into fruitful opportunities for progress.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March, 2011 was an immense tragedy that sparked a global response. The international community came forward with aid to the victims and came together to address the broader concerns about nuclear security and safety. The IAEA convened Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in Vienna in June, 2011. That was followed by the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security in September last year. I welcome plans to hold another ministerial conference in Fukushima itself — a setting will provide a stark reminder of the stakes.
In the field of nuclear security, the Communiqué adopted this past March at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit included a welcome reaffirmation of the essential responsibility and central role of the IAEA in strengthening the international nuclear security framework. It also recognized the value of the IAEA Nuclear Security Plan for the years 2010 to 2013.
We are also aiming for progress on the critical issue of nuclear terrorism. On 28 September, I will convene a United Nations High-level Meeting on Countering Nuclear Terrorism, which I hope will contribute strengthening the rule of law in this field.
With respect to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, one of the highlights of the 2010 NPT Review Conference was the agreement to convene a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, an initiative for implementing the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.
I congratulate the IAEA for convening last November’s forum on such a zone, which was an excellent opportunity for participants from the Middle East and other interested parties to learn from the experiences of such zones in other regions.
I commend Director General Amano and his staff for the fine work they have been doing. The IAEA and the UN Secretariat enjoy a close partnership which provides a solid foundation for future progress in achieving our common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Please accept my best wishes for success as you address the challenging issues on your agenda