We need all the help we can get from the EU in our efforts to improve nuclear safety, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi says to MEPs.
Improving nuclear safety and security, and peaceful ways to use nuclear energy were the focus of the discussion with the head of International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA on Tuesday.
Much of the discussion with the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy concentrated on Iran’s recent decision to suspend the application of its safeguard agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). MEPs wanted to hear from the Agency’s director general, Ambassador Rafael Grossi, to what extent the IAEA will be able to conduct its inspections in Iran, within the limits of the temporary technical understanding it has reached with Iran.
Ambassador Grossi said that all those participating in the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) are trying to find a path back to the agreement. In the meantime, they are trying to ensure that the IAEA maintains a minimum level of presence in Iran.
MEPs also expressed their concern about the nuclear situation in North Korea, the commission of the power plant in Ostrovets in Belarus, and the Saudi and Israeli nuclear programmes. They questioned Rafael Grossi about the challenges of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, such as deposition of nuclear waste.
Despite differing views in the EU on nuclear energy, its use is growing all over the world, he replied. It can be used in a safe, secure and “non-proliferation manner”, he added. He stressed that the IAEA is doing important work to promote the sustainable development goals. Nuclear techniques and technologies help countries protect their crops, fight against plastic pollution, and protect citizens’ health through nuclear medicine. The IAEA is helping close to 130 countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them RT PCR tests, he said. “Support from the EU is very important”, stressed Rafael Grossi.
The IAEA is responsible for a safeguard system, under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which promotes cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear technology and equal access to this technology for all State parties. Safeguards are used to verify compliance with the Treaty through inspections conducted by the IAEA. The Agency verifies that a state’s declaration concerning the nuclear material that it possesses is correct, that this material is being used exclusively for peaceful purposes and has not been diverted to develop nuclear weapons.