General Conference Day 2 Highlights

During the plenary session of the General Conference, over 46delegations delivered statements, which are available here.

The 2017 Scientific Forum on Nuclear Techniques in Human Health: Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment opened today. At the two-day event, experts and scientists are showcasing how nuclear science and technology help to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivered an opening statement, welcoming participants to the event. He highlighted the huge contribution that nuclear techniques have made to human well-being and saved tens of millions of lives.

King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho also delivered a statement at the opening of the Scientific Forum drawing attention to the importance of nuclear science and technology in the area of human health.

At the first side event this morning, a panel discussion on The Added Value of Gender Parity at the IAEAfocused on how diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in science, and in enabling organizations to perform measurably better. The discussion was moderated by the Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Management, Mary Alice Hayward.

At this year’s Nuclear Operators Forum: Challenges in Human Resources Management for Sustainable Nuclear Power Generation, participants received an overview on human resources challenges and the response necessary to support the future of nuclear energy, including building and maintaining the workforce, economic challenges and new ways of learning.

The first two of six short presentations by the IAEA Department of Safeguards on different aspects of safeguards implementation were held. Today’s presentation on the Faces of Safeguards focused on the State Declaration Portal and on the Instrument Records Integrator for Safeguards.

The event on Qualified Technical Centres for the Management of Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources provided participants with an update on the qualified technical centres concept for the long-term management of disused sealed radioactive sources.

At theNuclear High Temperature Heat for Industrial Processesevent, the IAEA’s activities in the field of non-electric applications of nuclear power were highlighted. It also showcased demonstration projects planned by Member States.

The event onRecruitment at the IAEA – Assessing Talentprovided an overview of recruitment initiatives focusing on candidate experience and on initiatives planned in the coming period, including talent pipelines.

At the Multi-unit Probabilistic Safety Assessment – Challenges Related to Risk Assessment event, high level representatives, experts and IAEA staff delivered presentations and discussed the risk assessment of multi-unit sites.

At the event Radiation: See, Understand and Protect Yourself, information was delivered on how to measure the radiation dose received from natural sources. Participants also learned about the different types of radiation and how to protect oneself. The presentation also featured information about how the IAEA helps Member States limit the radiation dose.

The eventNuclear Energy Innovation and the Paris Agreement presented roadmaps for nuclear energy innovation linked to nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the global response to climate change. Issues from research and development to regulatory framework and infrastructure to support Member States’ NDC updates from 2020 to 2050 were discussed.

The Decommissioning: Education and Training event highlighted the IAEA’s training activities as well as its collaboration with the European Commission to improve the coordination of training activities in Europe.

The objective of the eventNuclear Security e-Learning: Enhancing States’ Capacity to Strengthen a Global Response to a Global Threatwas to showcase the suite of IAEA nuclear security e-learning modules and to engage a wide range of users in an interactive and hands-on presentation, including a quiz and demonstration of different modules.

Member States side events:

Plasma Treatment of Radioactive Waste – Startup of the Kozloduy NPP Plasma Facility organised by Belgium provided information on plasma technology as a single process solution for treating solid organic and inorganic radioactive and problematic chemical waste, based on the startup of the plasma facility at Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

At the Annual Plenary Meeting of the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa organized by Cameroon, representatives of African Member States that have established an operational regulatory infrastructure for radiation safety and security met under the auspices of this regional network to plan activities and projects aimed at enhancing nuclear and radiation safety and security in Africa and at improving the governance of the Network.

At the event 20 years of the Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies (FORO): Enhancing Nuclear and Radiation Safety and Security through Regional and International Cooperation, the achievements in the strengthening of regulatory bodies as a result of the cooperation between FORO and the IAEA and identify possible lines of further collaboration among associations and networks was discussed.

An event to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons organized by the Vienna Chapter of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) took place today.

At the event Nuclear in Clean Energy and Mission Innovation Efforts: Building Partnerships for the Future organised by Canada, international partners convened to discuss how nuclear collaboration could be formalized through the mission innovation and clean energy ministerial initiatives.

The event International Peer Review of the SOGIN Decommissioning and Radioactive Waste Management Programme organised by Italy showcased the results of the Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS). This peer review was requested the Government of Italy. Rome-based SOGIN, the state-owned company responsible for the decommissioning and radioactive waste management programme in Italy, hosted the ARTEMIS mission. In addition, a bust of Enrico Fermi was donated to the IAEA.

A commemorative event organised by Kazakhstan on the Opening of the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank Storage Facility in Kazakhstan and IAEA participation in EXPO-2017 took placetoday.

The IAEA Additional Protocol: 20 Years and Beyond event organised byJapan, Australia, France and Sweden marked the 20th anniversary of the Additional Protocol. It highlighted the important contributions of the additional protocol to strengthened safeguards, and aimed to promote understanding by sharing experiences in additional protocol finalization, implementation and efforts for universalization.

The event Nuclear Energy Development in China showcased the latest nuclear energy developments in China and explored opportunities to further strengthen cooperation with the IAEA and other Member States and to contribute to safe and secure nuclear energy development in the world.

At the event New National Centres of Nuclear Science and Technologies with Research Reactors and ICERR Experience, specialists from the Russian Federation provided presentations on current Russian projects for establishing national centres for nuclear science and technologies in developing countries and an overview of activities in IAEA-designated ICERR in Russia.

Follow the IAEA and #IAEAGC for the General Conference or #Health for the Scientific Forum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for updates throughout the week.

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Nuclear Techniques in Human Health: Scientific Forum Opens

The use of nuclear techniques in human health helps to save millions of lives every year and the IAEA works with national governments to increase countries’ expertise in radiotherapy, nuclear medicine and the use of isotopic techniques in nutrition, said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the opening of the 2017 Scientific Forum today.

“Cancer and cardiovascular conditions are the leading causes of death in the world, accounting for 26.5 million of the 56.4 million deaths recorded in 2015,” he said. “Nuclear techniques make a real difference in these areas.”

He spoke of the gap between developed and developing countries in access to nuclear technology for medical diagnosis and treatment, and the IAEA’s role in narrowing that gap.

“The enormous benefits of nuclear technology for human health are clear. However, many developing countries lack both equipment and the trained medical and technical experts needed to make full use of the latest nuclear techniques. The IAEA is working to change that.”

Held over two days during the IAEA General Conference, the Scientific Forum this year is showcasing how nuclear techniques are used in the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of major diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular conditions. Senior officials, leading experts and academics will review the important contribution of nuclear technology to human health and how these techniques can support countries’ efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3: to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

The livestream of the Scientific Forum is available via this link. See a short video and our series of Impact Stories on how the IAEA supports development, including in health, around the world. Follow and use #Health on Twitter to get updates and join the discussion on the Scientific Forum.

Opening session

Cancer is the second highest cause of death globally, and its greatest impact increasingly falls on developing countries, saidKing Letsie III of Lesotho. “The work that the IAEA is undertaking in the diagnosis and treatment of a myriad of diseases, in particular cancer, is unparalleled.”

When it comes to infectious diseases in an increasingly globalized world where diseases know no borders, international cooperation is vital, he said. “The response by various international agencies, including the IAEA, to the recent outbreaks of Ebola, the zika virus and cholera is a testimony to what can be achieved through collective action by all relevant stakeholders.” (Read more here on the use of nuclear-derived techniques in the rapid and accurate diagnosis of several infectious diseases.)

King Letsie also spoke of the importance of proper nutrition, an area in which nuclear science makes a contribution by helping professionals assess nutrition levels and combat malnutrition. “It would only be proper for governments to allocate significant proportions of their budgets to programmes that will enhance nutrition in order to reverse all the adverse effects of malnutrition and at the same time improve the prospects for higher economic growth.”

Cancer is on the rise in Africa, and many countries on the continent do not have the means to deal with it, said Madeleine Tchuinte, Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation of Cameroon. “Late diagnosis and lack of treatment are the causes of death,” she said. Many countries do not have the means to offer radiological treatment. “African countries do not have the appropriate material and human resources to meet even part of the needs,” she said. “Governments need to put a higher priority on fighting cancer. We also need to bring in funds from the private sector via public-private partnerships.”

Nuclear medicine and radiation therapy are some of the priorities for nuclear science in Russia, said Veronika Skvortsova, the country’s Minister of Health. Russia’s framework to develop nuclear medicine and radiation by 2020 prioritizes the implementation of new technologies, safety and access throughout the country. “We will use only the most effective and innovative technologies and develop next generation pharmaceuticals,” she said. 

Ageing and increasing obesity are leading to more cases of cancer in developing countries and the best way to combat the disease is through early detection, said Eric Ulloa, Panama’s Vice Minister of Health. “More than 90% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer early survive, compared to only 50% for women diagnosed late,” he highlighted. Nuclear medicine plays an increasing role in early detection in many developing countries, but having the right equipment is not sufficient. “Capacity building [of medical staff] is still a challenge for many countries, and it should be prioritized.”

Detlev Ganten, Founder of the World Health Summit, spoke of the joint responsibility of scientists and politicians to make sure science delivers benefits to all. “Less than 25% of people benefit from the fast progress of science,” he said. “It is only thanks to international organizations and non-governmental organizations that we can bring this progress to people around the world.” The M8 Alliance, in which 25 major academic health centres work together to translate cutting edge science into public health, as well as the IAEA, play a leading role in spreading the benefits of science in health care, he said.

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UN Chief: Millions Live Under Shadow of DPRK Nuclear Threat

UNITED NATIONS � United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened his first General Assembly gathering Tuesday, warning that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are the world’s most serious challenge.

“Today proliferation is creating unimaginable danger, and disarmament is paralyzed,” Guterres said in New York.

“Millions of people live under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the secretary-general said, referring to North Korea by its formal name. “I condemn those tests unequivocally.”

Guterres commended the unity of the U.N. Security Council in its recent tightening and imposing of economic sanctions on Pyongyang, saying the move sends “a clear message” to the leadership there.

“Fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings,” he warned. “The solution must be political � this is a time for statesmanship � we must not sleepwalk our way into war.”

Less than an hour later, U.S. President Donald Trump took the podium to deliver his first U.N. address and warned North Korea that if the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies the U.S. would have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said, using his recently coined nickname for Kim Jong Un. “The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.”

In his UNGA speech, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari proposed that the U.N. Security Council send a delegation to Pyongyang to engage the North Korean leader.

“The crisis in the Korean peninsula underscores the urgency for all member states, guided by the spirit of enthroning a safer and more peaceful world, to ratify without delay the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons,” he said. That treaty will be open for signatures at the United Nations starting Wednesday morning.

Global challenges

U.N. chief Guterres, who took office January 1, outlined several other threats and challenges facing the world and urged multilateral solutions.

“We are a world in pieces,” Guterres told world leaders. “We need to be a world at peace.”

Of the numerous entrenched conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, he said “no one is winning,” and the most vulnerable in society are paying the highest price as combatants “thirst for outright military victory, at any cost.”

On terrorism, the secretary-general said there is no cause or grievance that justifies such actions, but cautioned against heavy-handed approaches in dealing with it, saying they are counterproductive.

“As soon as we believe that violations of human rights and democratic freedoms are necessary to win the fight, we have lost the war,” he cautioned.

During his UNGA address, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said there are more than 20 international terrorist groups that have a presence in his country.

“The future of Afghanistan matters, because we are on the front line of the global effort to eradicate terrorism,” he told the assembly.

Myanmar

Guterres, whose primary pillar is the prevention of conflict, called out the growing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar that has sent more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh in the past month. He recently referred to the military’s abuses as ethnic cleansing.

On Tuesday, the secretary-general acknowledged a speech in Myanmar earlier in the day by de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“But let me emphasize again: The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations and allow unhindered humanitarian access,” Guterres said. “They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long.”

The plight of the Rohingya minority was a common theme among leaders addressing UNGA Tuesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose phone call with Aung San Suu Kyi this month marked her first public comments on the situation, called the crisis “almost ethnic cleansing.”

“The international community has not given a good account of itself regarding the humanitarian plight which Rohingya Muslims have been exposed to,” Erdogan said. “If this tragedy in Myanmar is not stopped, the history of humanity will face the embarrassment of another dark state.”

Nigeria’s Buhari cautioned that the Myanmar crisis is “very reminiscent of what happened in Bosnia in 1995 and in Rwanda in 1994,” referring to the Srebrenica massacre and the Rwandan genocide.

Iran nuclear deal

Another issue that took center stage Tuesday at the UNGA was the Iran nuclear agreement.

President Trump declared the 2015 deal to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb “an embarrassment,” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” the U.S. ever entered into. He suggested he may pull U.S. support for it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement would not stop Iran from getting atomic weapons.

“That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it, fix it or nix it,” Netanyahu told the General Assembly. “Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions, until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability.”

The Israeli leader also had a tough message for Iran’s leaders.

“Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril,” he warned. “Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions.”

Climate change

During Tuesday’s speech, the U.N. chief also spoke of the importance of mitigating the impact of climate change and urged governments to implement the Paris climate accord.

“It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions,” Guterres said. “We know enough today to act � the science is unassailable.”

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke extensively on the issue, linking it to a number of natural disasters around the world in recent months, and echoing Guterres’ call to nations to move forward on the Paris agreement.

“That agreement is not up for renegotiation; it binds us, it rallies us together. Taking it apart would mean taking apart a pact that exists not just between states but between generations. It can be improved, we can have new contributions, new input, but we will not backtrack,” Macron said Tuesday.

Leaders will address the Assembly all week. Speakers Wednesday include British Prime Minister Theresa May, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Myanmar’s second vice president, U Henry Van Thio.

Source: Voice of America

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Moscow Unveils Monument to Kalashnikov, Creator of AK-47

MOSCOW � The new statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov cradling his signature AK-47 assault rifle unveiled Tuesday in Moscow commemorates one of Russia’s most renowned and reviled inventions. By some estimates, the AK-47 and its versions account for about one-fifth of the world’s firearms, the rugged and reliable weapon of choice for many armies, terror groups and drug gangs.

A look at Kalashnikov and his gun:

The makings of a designer

Kalashnikov was born into a Siberian peasant family in 1919. Mechanically minded, he at first aspired to design farm equipment. But World War II called him into the army.

He was wounded in the 1941 battle of Bryansk, and spent several months recovering in a hospital. While on the mend, he heard other soldiers complaining about how the Red Army’s rifles were inferior to those wielded by the Nazis, and he began to work on designs of his own.

The army put him to work as a designer and although his first efforts were unsuccessful, he broke through in 1947. The gun’s name commemorates the designer and the year – Avtomat Kalashnikova (19)47.

A gun adopted around the world

The AK-47 soon became widely popular for its adaptability to rugged conditions, including jungles, deserts and cold. It is simple to operate and easy to maintain – with little training, users reportedly can field-strip one in half a minute.

The gun was quickly adopted by Soviet Bloc armies and the Soviet Union distributed them to the armies of ideological allies and revolutionary groups throughout Africa and Asia. Moscow also freely licensed other countries to produce local versions.

A Russian culture icon

The AK-47’s distinctive profile with a banana clip makes it one of the world’s most recognizable firearms. It appears on the flag of Mozambique, the flag of Hezbollah and its barrel is shown on Zimbabwe’s coat of arms.

It also enters the precincts of kitsch – souvenir hunters can find glass mock-ups of the rifle filled with vodka.

In the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin: The Kalashnikov rifle is a symbol of the creative genius of our people. Or as Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky put it: the Kalashnikov rifle has become Russia’s cultural brand.

How did Kalashnikov feel?

Kalashnikov had said repeatedly that he was untroubled by inventing a gun that shed so much blood, insisting that he designed it to defend the Motherland.

I sleep well. It’s the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence, he said in 2007.

But a few months before his death in 2013 at age 94, he had penned a brooding letter to Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill.

My mental anguish is unbearable. I have the same insoluble question: if my submachine gun took people’s lives, does it mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, 93 years old, the son of a peasant, and Orthodox Christian by my faith, am responsible for the deaths of people, even if they were enemies? he wrote.

The patriarch responded that the blame lies not with him, but with those who used his weapon with evil intentions.

Source: Voice of America

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