The 48th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
concluded Friday evening with a call for the prevention of the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons and their delivery means
to help maintain international and regional peace and stability.
During the five-day conference, delegates from over 100 member countries of
the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, discussed a wide range of issues such as
nuclear security, measures to protect against nuclear and radiological terrorism
as well as international cooperation in nuclear, radiation and transport safety
and waste management.
The participants reached consensus on almost all the issues they have
covered, which analysts said, will contribute to enhancing the nuclear
The resolution on "Measures to Protect against Nuclear Terrorism" emphasized
the importance of physical protection and other measures against illicit
trafficking and national control systems for ensuring protection against nuclear
terrorism and other malicious acts, including the use of radioactive material
ina radiological dispersion device.
It urged all member countries to continue to provide political,
financial and technical support, including in-kind contributions, to improve
nuclear and radiological security and prevent nuclear and radiological
terrorism, and to provide to the Nuclear SecurityFund the political and
financial support in needs.
As part of its activity of promoting nuclear safety, the IAEA has focused
since the terrorist attacks in the US in 2001 on "helping countries identify
their vulnerabilities" in nuclear security.
This includes protecting against terrorists getting radioactivematerials to
use in so-called dirty bombs. These are conventional bombs laced with
radioactive materials and designed to contaminatewide areas.
The IAEA helped out on a conference last week in Vienna co-hosted by US
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Russian atomic chief Alexander Rumyantsev
on a global initiative to keep highly radioactive materials out of the reach of
In May, Abraham announced that the US was giving 450 million dollars to the
initiative, which tries to prevent nuclear materials stored around the world
from getting to terrorists who could use them to make a dirty bomb or even a
full atomic device.
Another resolution on "Strengthening the Effectiveness and Improving the
Efficiency of the Safeguards System including Implementation of Additional
Protocols" passed at the IAEA conference affirmed that measures for the
safeguards system with aview to detecting undeclared nuclear material and
activities must be implemented rapidly and universally by all concerned states
andother parties in compliance with their respective international commitments.
It called on all member states to give their full and continuing support to
the IAEA in order to ensure that the agency is able to meet its safeguards
The IAEA resolution, which called for the creation of a nuclear-free zone in
the Middle East, in a move clearly aimed at Israel which is believed to be the
only state in the region with nuclear weapons, is another important achievement
made during the conference.
The resolution, which was presented by Egypt and passed by consensus,
affirmed the urgent need for all states in the Middle East to accept the
application of full-scope agency safeguards to all their nuclear activities, as
a step in enhancing peace and security in the context of the establishment of a
It does not specifically mention Israel, which neither confirmsnor denies
that it has nuclear weapons, and is the only state in the region that has not
signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), setting safeguards that are
monitored by the IAEA.
The IAEA is "concerned by the grave consequence, endangering peace and
security, of the presence in the Middle East region of nuclear activities not
wholly devoted to peaceful purpose," the resolution said.
In his keynote address to the conference on September 20, IAEA
director-General Mohamed EIBaradei disclosed that more than 40 countries with
peaceful nuclear programs could retool them to makeweapons. He said that it is
time to tighten world policing of nuclear activities and to stop relying on
information volunteered by countries.