Hans Blix’s Statement to the Fortieth Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency

16 September 1996


At the request of the Member States concerned, the Agency has become engaged in assessing the radiological situation at three former nuclear weapons test sites. An assessment of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site has assured that radiation levels in villages around the area are deficient. However, it has also been concluded that lengthy human occupation of the test site itself would lead to unacceptably high radiation doses; the authorities of Kazakhstan have been advised to take steps to clean up the area or – more realistically – prevent access to it.

The habitability of the Bikini Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands was assessed to determine whether the islanders, who had been evacuated from the atoll before nuclear testing, could safely resume living there. The assessment, which was made by an international scientific advisory group convened by the Agency, concluded that if some contaminated soil was removed and if the uptake of radioactive cesium by crops were controlled through the use of special fertilizers, the Bikini Atoll could be re-occupied without restriction.

The third study, now underway, is of the test site at Mururoa and Fangataufa in French Polynesia. It is directed by an international advisory committee chaired by Dr. Gail de Planque of the United States. Document GC(40)/INF/4 contains a complete description of the status of this study. A final report can be expected by the end of 1997.

As the world is hopefully putting the era of nuclear weapons testing behind it, I find it appropriate that impartial international assessments are made of whatever radiological hazards may remain from past testing.


The mission of IAEA safeguards to verify that nuclear material, equipment, and installations are not used to ‘further any military purpose’ has been with the IAEA from the outset. Still, the dimension and direction of the safeguard activities have changed considerably over time. The most dramatic development followed the obligation laid down for States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and regional nuclear weapon-free-zone treaties to place all their present and future nuclear activities and material under Agency safeguards. Some 177 States have thus legally committed themselves to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements, and 120 States have done so. The Secretariat repeatedly reminds those States that have not yet fulfilled the obligation of their duty to do so without further delay. We are particularly anxious that all the States parties to the Tlatelolco Treaty – notably some Caribbean States – should enter into safeguards agreements, as otherwise, the entire entry into force of that Treaty might be delayed. We have every reason to believe that Cuba, which has signed the Treaty, will proceed with ratification. There have already been contacts on the subject of the safeguards agreement.

About two other nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties – the Pelindaba Treaty for Africa and the Bangkok Treaty for South East Asia – the Agency is preparing for verification and other tasks laid upon it. May I further mention that, as requested by the General Conference, I have continued consultations with States in the Middle East regarding the application of IAEA safeguards in that region?

As you know, the IAEA is about to take a significant step forward in further developing the safeguards system – an effort essential to introduce new cost-effective methods and techniques and to provide vitally needed confidence that non-proliferation commitments are fully respected. This development will also help to make the safeguards system an adequate instrument that can be used to verify future nuclear arms control and disarmament measures – a need recently stressed in the report of the Canberra Commission.

At this point, let me note that the traditional ‘safeguards statement,’ contained in this and earlier years’ Safeguards Implementation Reports (SIR), that it is reasonable to conclude that ‘the nuclear material and other items which were declared and placed under safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities or were otherwise adequately accounted for,’ is based chiefly on nuclear accountancy and inspection. The more extensive these accountancy and inspection efforts are, the more confident we can be that the absence of evidence of diversion is due to an absolute lack of pursuit. We believe that had Agency inspectors had access – which they did not – to some activities in the declared nuclear center at Tuwaitha in Iraq, they would have suspected that safeguards obligations were being violated. The case of Iraq also points to the conclusion that if more comprehensive information had been available about the Iraqi nuclear program, inconsistencies would, in all likelihood, have been discovered, and questions would have been prompted.

It is this experience, combined with the vital interest of States in reliable safeguards, that has led to the development of ‘Programme 93+2’ and a protocol additional to comprehensive safeguards agreements, designed to give the IAEA Secretariat much more information – notably, more data from the State and more data through observations by inspectors granted complete access. Only if the available information and inspection access are sufficiently broadly based will the absence of evidence of diversion give confidence that non-proliferation commitments have not been breached. The demand of Members that safeguards must give confidence, not only about non-diversion of declared material but also about the absence of non-declared nuclear material and installations, makes this access to more information and greater access for inspectors a high priority.

The requirements placed on States under the proposed additional protocol are not insignificant, but States that accepted them on a trial basis did not find them overly onerous. In any case, Members will have to weigh their interest in adequate verification in other States and their interest in demonstrating convincingly their compliance with non-proliferation commitments against the burden they may feel they are assuming by accepting such confirmation for themselves.

All parties to comprehensive safeguards must be treated equally. As a result, States with large nuclear programs will have to supply more information and allow inspectors to visit more sites and locations than States with small programs. However, the need for follow-up will depend somewhat upon the provided information’s quality – rather than quantity.

States with non-comprehensive safeguards may be able to contribute information of value for the operation of the comprehensive safeguards, e.g., regarding exports and imports. They may also help make the Agency’s safeguards operations more effective and less costly by accepting in the process of the safeguards to which they have subjected some new techniques, like environmental sampling and remote data transmission. They may further help by joining others in dispensing with visa requirements or granting multiple entry visas and accepting streamlined inspector designation procedures. However, the central rationale for strengthening safeguards verification in States with comprehensive safeguards, namely to increase confidence about their compliance with their non-proliferation pledge, does not apply to the States with non-comprehensive safeguards – as they have made no such pledge. This being the case, it would appear appropriate, in my view, to suggest that these States accept international verification of the steps they are taking, or hopefully will be taking, toward nuclear arms control and disarmament, for instance, verification to create confidence that nuclear material released through the dismantlement of weapons, is irreversibly transferred to the peaceful sector. This matter was explicitly raised in the Moscow Nuclear Surnniit. I have invited the United States and Russian Ministers present here to discuss the possibility of such verification by the IAEA. I should add that, at the invitation of the United States, the Agency has already performed verification of some quantities of such nuclear material.


The Agency’s ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) activities in Iraq have, since August 1994, involved more than 600 inspections, most of which were conducted without prior notice. No instances of criminal activities or illegal materials or equipment have been detected.

The Agency’s activities in Iraq during the past year have also involved extensive efforts to analyze the vast amount of documentation that was handed over to the IAEA and the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) following the departure from Iraq, in August 1995, of the late Lt. General Kamel Hassan Al Majid. Much work has also been devoted to following procurement transactions and assessing draft versions of Iraq’s re-issued ‘Full, Final and Complete Declaration’ of its former nuclear weapons program. Iraq formally transmitted its finalized Declaration to the Agency’s Nuclear Monitoring Group in Baghdad a few days ago. We shall start verifying its completeness and correctness as soon as we receive it in Vienna.

Let me add that, LA.EA inspectors remain in Baghdad and continue their ongoing monitoring and verification activities. Activities occur only in areas with reliable radio communications with our Monitoring and Verification Centre in Baghdad. Our actions that should take place away from the Baghdad region will be resumed as soon as conditions permit. Transport to and from Baghdad has been severely affected by the recent events, and we and the United Nwe, and the United Nations are closely following the situation concerning the safety of our personnel in Baghdad.


The Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR) for 1995 states that the IAEA could not verify the initial Declaration of nuclear material made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that the DPRK was still not fully compliant with its safeguards agreement. This is still the case. Document GC(40)/16 contains a full report.

Most recently, technical discussions between the IAEA and the DPRK occurred in late June. These discussions resulted in some progress, but the DPRK still did not accept various measures considered necessary by the Secretariat for verifying the correctness and completeness of the DPRK’s initial Declaration – in particular, standards for preserving data and providing information about certain facilities. On the positive side, the DPRK did agree to measures to improve Agency communications from the DPRK and to accept the designation of more inspectors. The subsequent round of technical discussions is planned to take place very soon.


I began this statement by stressing the necessity for international organizations to be alert to the changing needs of their Members; I hope I have demonstrated how the IAEA is meeting this requirement. I also stressed the need for continuously improved efficiency in our work. I believe the UEA has achieved a great deal in this regard. Let me give you examples:

  • Despite the limitations on resources, the Agency’s program has expanded over the years to take on new activities, for example, to counteract illegal trafficking in nuclear materials. Resources for such new activities have become available by phasing out some programs and efficiency gains. This process continues: the budget for 1997 assumes substantial cuts in overhead costs and provides an increase of some US $10 million in programmatic activity.
  • Systematic program performance evaluation is now an essential tool for increasing efficiency. In addition, independent external auditors help identify efficiency shortcomings, and the internal audit and management services, which work toward the same objective, are being strengthened.