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Thursday, 23 September 2010

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Nuclear energy for peaceful purposes

Text of the speech by Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka at the 54th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held in Vienna, Austria

General and complete disarmament has been a declared objective of the United Nations and the international community for several decades, though it has remained elusive. Sri Lanka believes that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka addressing at the 54th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held in Vienna, Austria

Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are interlinked and cannot be pursued independently and in isolation. We also recognise that obligations and commitments undertaken by countries should not jeopardize their sovereign and inalienable right to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Sri Lanka is glad to note that the NPT 2010 Review Conference has recommended notable actions and practical measures in dealing with Nuclear non-Proliferation and peaceful use of Nuclear Energy. We call on the Agency and Member States to work together in giving effect to the actions recommended in the Review Conference.

Development plan

Sri Lanka attaches great importance to the mandate and functions entrusted to the IAEA in enhancing the peaceful use and application of nuclear energy and technology for Member States. IAEA’s mandate and over five decades of vast expertise acquired in the area of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes place the Agency in a vital and indispensable position. We are confident that the Agency would continue to maintain its independence, balance and impartiality in fulfilling its mandate. In successfully carrying out its tasks, the Agency also needs the support of Member States. Sri Lanka is firmly of the view that all avenues of diplomacy and dialogue should be employed to deal with the contentious issues confronting the Agency.

My delegation has read with interest the Annual Report of the Agency for 2009. The world continues to face growing challenges of climate change and declining sources of fossil fuels. As we focus on forms of renewable energy and sustainable development, it is evident that there is renewed interest in nuclear energy to meet demands of national development and power generation.

The Mahinda Chintana - Vision for the Future program initiated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has identified five hubs for development activities and Energy is defined as one of the hubs. Under this rapid development plan, I wish to state that we have formulated and introduced a 15 fold strategy called ‘Power Lanka’ based on the concept of triple E’s visualizing Economy, Energy and Efficiency. As a stepping stone to this strategy we are now in the process of reviewing and revisiting our Energy Policy.

The Government of Sri Lanka has commenced developing national infrastructure for enhanced productivity. The year 2010 marks the opening of the new Hambantota port in the South of Sri Lanka. Development of a second International Airport, bunkering facilities and other large infrastructure projects are underway.

We are now witnessing a great leap forward and have experienced an energy demand of eight percent for the past six months and in the second quarter of the year, we have had growth rates of 8.5 percent. In order to meet our energy demands in the future, we need to feed our base load, as well as increase our spinning reserves to absorb non-conventional renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and mini-hydro.

In meeting these development priorities and plans, Sri Lanka has therefore taken a decision to look into incorporating Nuclear Power into its energy mix. Recently, the Government of Sri Lanka has approved the Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka to conduct a pre-feasibility study of using nuclear energy as a viable option beyond 2020 for power generation with the technical cooperation of the Agency. Further, a program to enhance human resource development in the field nuclear energy has already been initiated in collaboration with Engineering Universities of Sri Lanka.

Future requirements

The Atomic Energy Authority Act. No. 19 is being upgraded and drafted to meet the present and future requirements in the field of nuclear power generation, nuclear terrorism, environmental protection and nuclear safety and security. The draft act is being forwarded to the Agency with a view to finalize the Act within this year, to be approved by the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Terrorism remains a great threat to countries. As a country that had to face the scourge of terrorism for nearly 30 years, I am pleased to announce that Sri Lanka has been able to overcome this threat. As we look to the future with renewed hope and enthusiasm, the Government of Sri Lanka is proceeding to embark on a new era of economic development.

Sri Lanka fully supports global measures to combat terrorism and has joined multilateral efforts by becoming signatory to a number of International Conventions, including the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The global threat posed from nuclear weapons and material falling into the hands of terrorists groups and extremist elements is very real. Therefore, physical protection of nuclear material is very essential.

Science and technology

Sri Lanka has become a partner of the Global Initiative to combat Nuclear Terrorism and has joined the megaport initiative, to improve safety and security of radioactive sources and monitor international movement of nuclear materials through our national ports.

It has also provided security upgrades to places such as radiotherapy facilities and gamma irradiation centers under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. We are now in the process of finalizing an agreement with the Government of the United States to facilitate the technical assistance necessary for our country in the disposition of radioactive waste in our country.

In June of last year, Sri Lanka hosted a South Asia Workshop on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 dealing with Non-State Actors and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

The application of nuclear science and technology for development related purposes is an important pillar of the Agency’s activities and mandate. Therefore, we attach great importance to the technical assistance provided by the IAEA to developing countries and believe that these activities be strengthened further. It is for this reason that sufficient, adequate and predictable resources for the Technical Cooperation Fund should be allocated for this purpose. At the same time, the delivery of Technical Cooperation should take the needs of recipient countries into consideration to enhance the impact of such assistance.

Sri Lanka has greatly benefited from the Technical cooperation program of the Agency in areas such as human health, agriculture, industry, nutrition and radiation protection. Last year Sri Lanka signed its Country Program Framework (CPF) for 2009-2013 in December 2009, for which it is envisaged IAEA cooperation for energy planning, nuclear medicine, industrial applications, control of vector borne infectious diseases and capacity building of the national nuclear research institutes.

Sri Lanka, with the support of the Department of Technical Cooperation, has strengthening our radiological emergency preparedness planning. It is currently setting up a few sites to detect background radiation and activate a radiological warning system through the country’s National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC). In this regard, the NDMC has planned national training programs with the collaboration of the Agency in the field of radiological emergencies and similar situations.

Sri Lanka has received technical cooperation assistance on nuclear imaging for the last two decades. Four nuclear imaging centres in the government health sector have been provided with equipment and expert services with a recommended source for supply of radioisotopes. However, we note that in present circumstance the supply of Tc-99m isotope is not always reliable. As we are aware of the importance that nuclear imaging plays in the early detection of cancer, especially for developing countries, we hope that this matter may be resolved.

Sri Lanka appreciates the contribution made by the Agency for the establishment of the Bio Dosimetry Laboratory and we are pleased to note that Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka is now in a position to offer bio-dosimetry services to concerned individuals on request. The advanced nuclear analytical services such as Total X-ray Fluorescence (TXRF), upgrading of human resources and capabilities in the field of nuclear analytical methods has helped improve investigations on causes for Chronic Kidney Disease, a major health concern in the North Central and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.

The Agency’s Program of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) serves as a clear demonstration of the peaceful use of the atom. We are appreciative that Sri Lanka has been one of the six PACT Model Demonstration Sites (PMDS). We hope that the success of these PMDS will help provide models for comprehensive cancer care in the developing world today.

In this respect, we also thank the Government of India for their donation of the Bhabhatron II - a Cobalt-60 Teletheraphy Machine to Sri Lanka through the PACT program, that will be installed at the General Hospital in Hambantota, where there is an urgent need.

Sri Lanka views the Regional Cooperative Agreement for the Asia and the Pacific as an instrument through which participating countries have reaped considerable benefits. In a follow up programs introduced by the RCA, Sri Lanka has recognized the importance of Non Destructive Testing Techniques for the enhancement safety and productivity in Industry. The Department of National Planning of Sri Lanka has recommended the establishment of the National Centre for Non Destructive Testing (NCNDT). The proposed NCNDT will perform such work on an enhanced scale.

I wish to thank the Secretariat of the Agency for the arrangements made for this session of the General Conference, as well as for their excellent cooperation with Sri Lanka in all aspects of the Agency’s work. My delegation assures, through you the Director General and his staff of the fullest cooperation of Sri Lanka in its efforts to achieve peace, development, safety and security through the effective utilization of the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.

 

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