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Sri Lanka has to decide whether its security is sufficient

2018-03-21 00:13:21
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The writer in conversation with Yukiya Amano (Right)
 
  • Passing judgment on whether security is enough is not up to IAEA

  • IAEA is an organization in charge of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and Pakistan is not a member of NPT

  • After Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident we have an additional function

  • With regard to North Korea we are very much concerned

  • We are an international organization with 169 member countries, which is an extensive membership

  • Our mandate is limited and clearly defined in the nuclear field. We are also delivering concrete results

  • Our mandate is for peace and development and we are concentrating our efforts on that area

  • We are not working abstract and are uplifting lives of the ordinary people through meetings


 

 
The Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano visited Sri Lanka on March 14 after concluding a two day visit to Pakistan. He was invited by the Government of Sri Lanka. The island nation is a member of the IAEA and has consistently obtained technical assistance from the IAEA for peaceful nuclear applications in Non Power areas.Dr. Harinda Vidanage, the Director of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS), sat down with Amano for a short interview facilitated through Dailymirror , which publishes Dr. Vidanage’s International Affairs bi weekly column ‘Stratsight’.
 
QYou are visiting South Asia and the region is experiencing a transformation in energy needs and energy security is an important factor. What is your take on Nuclear energy being a key source of Energy security in the region. Also are we doing enough regarding energy security in South Asia?   
 
 It isn’t us who should decide. It is up to you to decide whether you have sufficient levels of energy security or not. If you find including Nuclear energy to create energy security it is up to you then. We are ready to assist you in using the Nuclear power safely, securely and sustainably. But making the decision is up to you. Passing judgment on whether security is enough is not up to IAEA. It is again up to you.    
 
QYou visited Pakistan just before you arrived in Sri Lanka. There is concern about Indian-Pakistan nuclear rivalry. Should we be worried about Pakistan’s nuclear programme?   
 
IAEA is an organization in charge of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and Pakistan is not a member of NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty). We do not handle the area concerning nuclear weapons. As far as the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the production of electricity are concerned I have visited the construction of KANUPP (Nuclear Power Complex in Karachi) and the construction is making steady progress.   
We established a small dedicated team for North Korea, last summer. It’s a small team comprising ten and if there is a need we can expand it. We are ready for both monitoring and sending back inspectors to do the verification
 
They are paying a lot of attention on safety and security at all levels and when I was in Pakistan in 2014, I visited the Centre for excellence in nuclear security. With regard to the commitments on nuclear safety and security we are not a global authority. We do not say whether safety is enough or not. Even with regard to Sri Lanka, it is Sri Lanka that has to decide whether its security is sufficient. We can only help countries like you (Sri Lanka) or Pakistan.   
 
QWith the expansion of India’s Nuclear power programme and the largest reactor in Kundankulam, Tamil Nadu, Sri Lankans are worried about dealing with nuclear accidents. From an IAEA perspective what kind of support can Sri Lanka get from this agency in case of a nuclear emergency?   
 
There is an early notification convention on nuclear accidents. If there is an accident, the country in which such an event takes place is requested to report the incident soon as possible. In the event there is an accident that has a trans-boundary impact we can help countries, as a depository of this convention, to disseminate and share information to other countries.   
In the first issue of monitoring we have had nuclear inspectors in Yongbyon, North Korea in 2009 April. We were asked to leave the country in April 2009. We do not have inspectors on the ground, but we continue to monitor the situation through satellite imagery and other means
 
After Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident we have an additional function in analysing the situation and results that are to be shared with the country or countries that are affected. It is in the framework of the convention to make early notification of Nuclear Accidents.   
 
QYou are aware that our region is experiencing a significant geo political rivalry; especially the role played by North Korea. Can you as IAEA mediate and intervene in situations arising from such geo political tensions?   
 
With regard to North Korea we are very much concerned. We have two functions; one is to monitor the nuclear programme of North Korea and secondly we are ready to send back our nuclear inspectors when political development allows for such deployment.   
 
In the first issue of monitoring we have had nuclear inspectors in Yongbyon, North Korea in 2009 April. We were asked to leave the country in April 2009. We do not have inspectors on the ground, but we continue to monitor the situation through satellite imagery and other means. 
 
As we do not have inspectors on the ground we cannot state with 100 percent certainty about them stating that they resumed the operation of reactors and that they have expanded nuclear program and have constructed a 5MWsmall nuclear power plant in Yongbyon. We can monitor these activities when we find it necessary. We share the information we have with international community.   
 
Another function is be ready to send back our inspectors, if verification is needed through a dialogue. North Korea is not a member of the IAEA. When we use our budget we need the consent of the member states. We make ourselves ready for such actions.   
If there is an accident, the country in which such an event takes place is requested to report the incident soon as possible. In the event there is an accident that has a trans-boundary impact we can help countries, as a depository of this convention, to disseminate and share information to other countries
 
We should maintain the level of training for our inspectors, update our programmes of verification and procure necessary equipment. We established a small dedicated team for North Korea, last summer. It’s a small team comprising ten and if there is a need we can expand it. We are ready for both monitoring and sending back inspectors to do the verification. Importantly, only IAEA can do verification regarding nuclear related issues.   
 
QIs that verification procedure relevant to the one that you have been doing in Iran and is it based on your recent comments on Iran?   
 
I am cautious when comparing these two cases. Iran and North Korea are different. The situation in North Korea is much more serious. They have declared to withdraw from the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. They have expelled our inspectors and have detonated nuclear weapons. They are launching nuclear missiles and this is a very dangerous situation.   
 
I do not compare these two cases. We are an international organization and we can discharge our duties impartially. 
 
QThere is a shift in nuclear weapons development. Countries are talking about tactical nuclear weapons. Is this a setback when considering what the IAEA has achieved through promoting peaceful nuclear technology?   
 
 I am not the right person to answer this question!   
 
QYou have kept on saying you are an international organization, but we are living during a time of a crisis of global governance. Should we be worried about the turbulence affecting global governance? Is that affecting you or would you still remain very relevant in the future? 
 
We are an international organization with 169 member countries, which is an extensive membership I would say. IAEA is functioning very well and we are relevant. We have a very clear mandate and we help countries to prevent the spread and the use of nuclear weapon by verifying. We contribute towards the preventing of the spread of nuclear weapons. We provide assistance to develop by transferring nuclear technology.   
As we do not have inspectors on the ground we cannot state with 100 percent certainty about them stating that they resumed the operation of reactors and that they have expanded nuclear program and have constructed a 5MWsmall nuclear power plant in Yongbyon
 
Our mandate is limited and clearly defined in the nuclear field. We are also delivering concrete results. Iran is a very good case and so is the cancer hospital in your country. Food security and safety laboratories in your country are examples of very concrete results that we have achieved.   
 
Our mandate is for peace and development and we are concentrating our efforts on that area. We are not working abstract and are uplifting lives of the ordinary people through meetings. We do not assess our effectiveness by the number of meetings we hold, but do it by the concrete outcomes we have achieved.   
 


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