The Holy See
back up



Vienna (Austria)
Monday, 18 September 2006

Mr President,

I have the honour of presenting to you, Mr President, to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr El Baradei, and to all the distinguished participants in this 50th General Conference of the IAEA the best wishes and cordial greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr President,

In the fifty years since its foundation, the International Atomic Energy Agency remains an irreplaceable point of reference for international co-operation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and for development. The Holy See welcomes Malawi, Montenegro, Mozambique and Palau as new Member States of the IAEA's family.

The Nobel Peace Prize conferred last year upon the Agency and its Director represents a well-deserved recognition of the important contribution that the IAEA has made in all areas of its activities. The service that IAEA has given to the international community by promoting nuclear non-proliferation and by contributing to the process of nuclear disarmament deserves the highest commendation.

Mr President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

In this jubilee year, the Agency can look back with satisfaction on what has been achieved since its foundation under the three pillars of its mandate:  technology, safety and verification. Still, many challenges have to be faced in the future. One of these is of major concern to the Holy See, in particular non-compliance with the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the safeguards obligations of the Treaty.

The Holy See regards the NPT as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non- proliferation regime, as the basis to pursue nuclear disarmament and an important element for further development of nuclear energy applications for peaceful purposes. Since the NPT is the only multilateral legal instrument currently available, intended to bring about a nuclear weapons free world, it must not be allowed to be weakened. Humanity deserves no less than the full co-operation of all States in this important matter. In this regard, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his Message for the World Day of Peace 2006: "What can be said, too, about those governments which count on nuclear arms as a means of ensuring the security of their countries? Along with countless persons of good will, one can state that this point of view is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all - whether those governments which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms, or those planning to acquire them - agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament".

The Agency's comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocols are an essential part of the global non proliferation regime providing credible assurances of non diversion of nuclear materials and of the absence of undeclared nuclear activities. The Holy See supports all the efforts to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the IAEA's safeguards system and invites all States to be part of these instruments to strengthen nuclear safeguards system. The universalization of the Additional Protocols certainly will reinforce the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime and increase the confidence in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a key to global security that does not rely on nuclear weapons and represents the best hope of stemming nuclear proliferation. In this year of the 10th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Treaty, the Holy See reaffirms its support for the Treaty as a major instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The Holy See joins other States to call upon all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay, in particular those States whose ratification is needed for its entry into force.

Concerning the Small Quantities Protocol (SQP) my Delegation is pleased to inform the General Assembly that the Holy See concluded recently the exchange of letters with the Director General to give effect to the standardised text and modified criteria.

The peaceful use of nuclear energy, however, still calls for great efforts on the part of States to ensure an effective protection of their citizens and the environment and to answer to the legitimate worries about the future of our planet. This year we remember the 20th anniversary of the accident of Chernobyl. The memory of that terrible disaster and the painful consequences from which many, above all children, suffer to this day, are an alarm bell to the international community to heighten safety in all nuclear facilities around the world.

Mr President,

Disarmament is a step on the road to peace, and today, more than ever, peace is the ultimate good of peoples and the highest aspiration of all mankind; aspiration that wars and terrorism have unfortunately threatened and made hollow in many parts of the world.

With regard to the Middle East the Holy See shares the concern about the growing of insecurity. It is desirable that all the countries of the region and the international community initiate a serious dialogue for creating a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. Moreover, the conclusion by all States of the region of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Protocols would represent a great contribution to the security of the entire region.

Concerning recent developments in international negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme, my Delegation would like to reiterate that the Holy See is firmly convinced that the present difficulties can and must be overcome through diplomatic channels, making use of all the means that diplomacy has at its disposal and considers necessary to eliminate all the elements which objectively impede mutual trust.

The Technical Co-operation Programme of the IAEA is one of the most efficient instrument for the purpose of peaceful nuclear development. The application of nuclear technologies and the utilization of isotopes particularly in the fields of agriculture, hydrology, food security and medicine are aimed at improving the living conditions of many people and have already contributed much in achieving this goal. The Holy See appreciates the endeavours and achievements of the IAEA in the field of technical co-operation and encourages the Agency to continue and strengthen these activities in particular: promoting better health for children, combating malnutrition, cancer management and radiation oncology carried out under the Agency's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), and the research on the advantages of using nuclear techniques in improving nutrition, health and the well being of HIV infected peoples.

Access to safe drinking water is another area of concern to the Holy See because this basic necessity is unavailable to more than one sixth of the world's population. The urgency of a solution to this world-wide demand should not be underestimated because it is a precondition to any sustainable development.

In conclusion, Mr President, I would like to formulate best wishes for the future of the International Atomic Energy Agency, of which the Holy See is honoured to be one of its founding members:  may the Agency spend all its energies in realising the vision "Atoms for Peace" for the security of the whole human family.

Thank you, Mr President.

*L'Osservatore Romano 21.9.2006 p.2.