The Holy See
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Vienna (Austria)
Wednesday, 28 September 2005


Mr President,

On behalf of the Delegation of the Holy See I would like to congratulate you on your election as President of the 49th General Conference and I assure you and the Secretariat of the full support of my Delegation in making this Conference a success.

The numerous and important activities carried out during last year make it clear that the Agency's work has continued to expand. With the skilled and wise leadership and efficient management of the Director General ElBaradei and the dedication of the entire Secretariat, the IAEA was able to respond to the challenges in all areas of its work. We would like to extend to Dr ElBaradei our warmest congratulations for his re-appointment to a third term as Director General and to wish him every success for this important task.

Mr President,

Recent years have witnessed the multiplication of symptoms of a progressive crisis of international regimes aimed at strengthening peace and security through the development of multilateral measures, painstakingly negotiated during past decades. These measures cover a wide range of instruments aimed at promoting disarmament, arms control, non-proliferation, transparency and confidence-building.

Disarmament is an issue which the Holy See has always had at heart, as witnessed by its commitment in pursuing a general and total disarmament through the promotion of a culture of peace, based on the dignity of the human person and on the rule of law, and through a culture of multilateralism based on dialogue and honest, consistent and responsible cooperation on the part of all members of the international community.

The Holy See believes that the arms race and the dramatic increase in military spending worldwide must give way to a renewed global effort to mobilize resources towards the objectives of peace and authentic human, social and economic development. It is important in this respect, that the international community avoid a short-sided approach to problems related to national and international security, and that it adopt, on the contrary, a vision which acknowledges the profound repercussions of holistic human development on security issues, and the benefits deriving from correct implementation of a genuine international disarmament process.

It is important therefore to recognize the link between security and development. This linkage forms the foundation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by which the States Party agreed to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons, to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by additional States and to make the peaceful application of nuclear energy available to all. Security and development are not just the result of legal commitments. Absence of development, poor living standards, lack of education and good governance often constitute a fertile ground for breeding insecurity and tensions and therefore must be urgently addressed. It is distressing that we must recognise that $900 billion are spent every year on armaments, but only $60 billion on development assistance to the developing world.

The Technical Cooperation Programme of the Agency recognizes the essential role that nuclear science plays in promoting development. Its initiatives help to fight poverty and contribute to a more peaceful solution of the serious problems facing mankind. The research activities and technical cooperation projects carried out in recent years continue to yield good results and indicate innovative ways of tackling problems which affect a great number of people. All the efforts of the IAEA in this field are very much appreciated and should continue in partnership with the recipient countries.

The importance of this aspect of "Atom for Peace" using nuclear techniques to address socio-economic needs, make a significant contribution to responding to the most urgent concerns. Nuclear research produces higher yielding, disease resistant crops for farmers, eradication of harmful pests in an environmental beneficial manner. But particularly important is the role of radionuclides used in the diagnosis and treatment of malignant diseases.

In this context my Delegation wishes to express its great appreciation for what has been achieved in the field of nuclear medicine and radiotherapy thanks to the assistance of the Agency to expand the availability of cancer treatment facilities in the developing world and to monitor factors that affect nutrition, particularly in children in developing countries where nearly 200 million are chronically undernourished.

Mr President,

Security is not only related to development but also to reinforcement of non-proliferation regime and in particular to nuclear disarmament. Nuclear arms control and global security go together and must be addressed in parallel. The IAEA's nuclear security plan is focussing on three main points:  prevention, detention and response. It is important to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system integrating verification, effective export controls, effective physical protection of nuclear material and effective mechanisms for dealing with cases of non-compliance.

As the Director General ElBaradei declared not long ago:  "Measures to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime must be accompanied by measures to accelerate progress towards nuclear disarmament. Nuclear weapons continue to be regarded as a source of global influence, and are valued for their deterrent effect".

The outcome of the 2005 NPT Review Conference has been disappointing and is indicative of a radicalization of the positions between those States focussing on the slow progress achieved in the field of nuclear disarmament and those, who's priority is to prevent any additional State to acquire the capability of manufacturing nuclear weapons.

It is essential, and urgent, in order to reinforce international peace, security and stability, to progress simultaneously on those two equally important issues.

This will undoubtedly require from all world leaders and statesmen to be open-minded, to take into account the legitimate development and security concerns of other nations and to have the courage to take the necessary measures even if these are politically difficult.

As we have stated last year: "Continued threats to peace and security due to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, call for firm and far-reaching responses". In this regard, all non-nuclear weapons States party to the NPT should support the strengthening of the IAEA verification system including the ratification of the Additional Protocol, and not use as a reason for not doing so the fact that the NPT is not yet universal or that nuclear disarmament is not progressing fast enough. Similarly, all NWS and those States that are not party to the NPT should sign and ratify the CTBT, as a clear indication that nuclear weapons will not be further developed and tested.

Increasing the production of electricity from nuclear power plant complying with the highest international safety and security standards, to partially meet the growing need of the world population will only be possible if it is not associated with the threat that it can be used as a cover to achieve a nuclear weapon capability. This is in the common interest of all States that wish to develop this source of energy for the benefit of their people. If the international community cannot be confident that the production of electricity can be done without increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation it is doubtful that the peaceful use of nuclear energy will get the support required for its expansion.

In conclusion, as we look towards our future, we must hope and continue to work that we may benefit from the safe application of nuclear science and technology in a world free of nuclear weapons.

Thank you, Mr President.

*L'Osservatore Romano 2.10.2005 p.2.