Board Of Governors Meeting - 2 Speeches, Vienna, Austria, March 2001

Statement by Ambassador T.P. Sreenivasan
Governor for India at the Board of Governors on March 20, 2001.

Mr. Chairman,

India is one of the delegations which had requested for a Nuclear Technology Review and, therefore, we particularly appreciate the efforts of the Agency in bringing out this useful information document for the year 2001. We welcome the intention of the Agency to produce a comprehensive Nuclear Technology Review on a regular basis.

2. The global nuclear picture appears to indicate a general decline in the use of nuclear energy for power generation. But the Review brings out the fact that there is growth of nuclear power in those regions of the world where there is energy demand for development. Moreover, the Review states that countries like the U.S. and Russia favour lifetime extensions of existing Nuclear Power Plants over new construction. In fact, the global nuclear power picture should consider lifetime extension beyond the original intended period as equivalent to constructing a new plant of more or less the same capacity. In addition, technological improvements are being carried out in many countries, including India, to increase the capacity factor of the existing nuclear power plants, resulting in enhanced production of electricity. We also note that several studies carried out in Western Europe concludes that nuclear power would be competitive and less expensive than new gas capacity by 2010. We also note that in some EU countries technical findings are not always suggestive of a phase-out. One need not, therefore, be too gloomy about a decline in nuclear power production in the overall global scenario.





3. We note, however, that there is a decline in the number if NPPs in the EU. Our concern is that, according to standard calculations, this would result in the increase of Green House Gas emissions by 5% by 2010 rather than a decrease by 8% as agreed to in the Kyoto Protocol. There are no clear indications as to how this gap is going to be closed. 


4. The paragraph on “addressing the central issues” mentions that current polls and politics indicate that the majority of people believe that the benefits of the currently operating nuclear power plants outweigh the risks. The World Energy Assessment states that to improve political prospects, the nuclear power industry must address the remaining concerns about waste, safety and proliferation. In this regard, some 25 innovative reactor designs are in various stages of design and development around the world. In India, we have initiated a programme on the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor to address these concerns. We appreciate the Agency’s effort in launching a new International project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO).


5. The Agency, we believe, must continue to play a proactive role in the major events connected with the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-IX) and in the Rio 10 events. In this context, we have noted the statement made by Mr. David Waller, Deputy Director General, Department of Management, on behalf of the IAEA at COP-6 in November, 2000 in which he stated : “Nuclear power is today a significant contributor to both the world’s energy supply and greenhouse gas abatement. More specifically, it currently produces 16% of the world’s electricity, and, in doing so, avoids 8% in greenhouse gas emissions which would otherwise result. That amounts to approximately 600 million tonnes less of carbon annually, about the same as is avoided by hydropower”. We are also happy that the Director General has assured us that the IAEA will strive to secure a level playing field for nuclear energy. We believe that there is a convincingcase for recognising nuclear power as a technology for greenhouse gas reduction under the flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol.

Annex-1 : Sustainability


6. We find the summary of the role of nuclear power in two major new studies of long-term energy scenarios i.e. Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) and World Energy Assessment (WEA) very useful. 


7. The definition of sustainable development offered by the Brundtland Commission in 1987 and the 13 sustainability indicators as given in WEA’s chapter on Scenarios are the essential starting points for any debate. It is worth noting that while talking about sustainability, no time-frame for defining the “future” has been specified.


8. It is evident that for globally sustainable development, the per capita energy consumption in the entire developing world should reach at least the current world average. In the case of India, with a population of 1 billion people, this would imply a nearly six-fold increase in energy consumption per capita. One can easily work out the world energy consumption rates if such a level of sustained energy consumption is applied to all developing countries. It may turn out that at this level it would be impossible to sustain energy generation based on fossil reserves for any significantly long period. As such, any conclusion regarding the plentiful nature of fossil supplies, based on current consumption rates, are misleading in a sustainability related discussion.

9. Consumption of fossil fuels at levels indicated will obviously lead to an environmental disaster. Hence, for sustainable development, non-fossil sources of energy are the only solution. It would be appropriate if the international agencies involved in energy related studies, could develop scenarios, with an assumption of non-availability of fossil fuels, and energy consumption rates just outlined, and work out an appropriate mix between solar, renewables / non-conventionals and nuclear energy options. It seems quite logical to believe that under any such scenario nuclear energy must exist as a large proportion of the overall energy mix.

10. The various scenarios referred to in the document do not factor in the points I have just made.

11. The entire issue then boils down to a necessity for conserving the expertise and current knowledge, and a pursuit of aggressive R&D programmes for the development of innovative nuclear technologies, to facilitate a large scale deployment of nuclear power, mainly in developing countries, inevitably in the long term, and quite possible in the shorter term itself.

12. We find the summary of current arguments for and against sustainability of nuclear power, plus key events in the political debate during 2000 and prospective developments in 2001 very informative. We agree with the WEA that for nuclear energy to qualify as a sustainable energy option, concerns regarding safety, waste disposal and proliferation must be addressed and the decisions on future nuclear power will be made largely at the political level rather than technical and economic grounds. In this regard IAEA’s role is shaping stake holders’ opinion on nuclear energy in a sustainable energy system is very important. We note that the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development (CENRD) which provides principal input to CSD-IX has asked the IAEA to initiate the preparation “in full consultation with and participation of the parties concerned” of discussion document on the potential role for commercial nuclear power in a sustainable energy future. We feel that the Agency with its multi-disciplinary strength and vast experience would bring out a useful discussion document.

13. In the context of the role of nuclear energy for sustainable development, it may be worthwhile for experts from Member States to debate the advantages of the closed nuclear fuel and bring out an objective document in this connection.

Annex-2 : Desalination

14. Our delegation has found the information contained in Annex-2 on “Desalination” very useful. Seawater desalination is an important option for satisfying current and future demands, in regions having close proximity to the sea. About 13600 desalination plants are set up world-wide producing around 26 million m3/d (6 billion gallons/day) fresh water. Most of these plants are located at fossil fuelled power stations.

15. Adoption of large-scale desalination based on fossil fuel sources lead to increasing concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and limited long term availability. Nuclear energy has the potential to play an important role in this context.

16. For nuclear desalination to be attractive in any country, two factors must be in place simultaneously : a shortage of water and the ability to use nuclear energy for desalination. Both of these are present in India. Although India, as a tropical country, receives abundant rain it is not evenly distributed. Some parts of the country face water shortages round the year. These areas are witnessing rapid industrial growth in recent years adding to the water demand. The Indian nuclear power programme is well established. Fourteen reactors are presently operating providing around 2720 Mwe at an average load factor of around 80%. India is therefore keen in pursuing nuclear desalination programme and is a front-runner in this area.

17. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has an ongoing R&D programme on both thermal and membrane desalination processes with an aim to develop indigenous desalination technologies for setting up in future, large size desalination plants in the water scarce areas of the country. As mentioned in the document, India is setting up a 6300 m3/d nuclear desalination demonstration plant at MAPS, Kalpakkam, using a hybrid desalination system (MSF-RO). The plant is to be commissioned in mid 2002. Operational experience of this plant will be shared with IAEA Member States desiring to adopt nuclear desalination in their country.

18. India has actively participated in all the activities of IAEA for the promotion of nuclear desalination including CRP on “Optimization of Coupling of nuclear Reactors and Desalination Systems”, and inter-regional project on cooperation between member states. India has also contributed to the exchange of information at the IAEA International Nuclear Desalination Advisory Group (INDAG) as one of its members.

19. The document also mentions that a number of countries are also considering nuclear desalination and are engaged in the design studies of reactors for coupling with desalination plants. We would be happy to continue to support the Agency in pursuing this important activity.

Annex-3 : Research Reactors

20. As pointed out in the document, research reactors contribute to the development of nuclear power, basic science, material development, radioisotope production for medicine and industry, and education and training.

21. Though there has been decrease in the demand for research reactors in the developed countries, they continue to be of relevance in the developing countries for the reasons I have outlined. Most of the research reactors currently being designed are innovative, multi-purpose reactors designed to produce high-neutron fluxes for special purposes. IAEA has been supportive of initiatives in the area of utilization of research reactors which have a strong emphasis on developing a strategic plan for long-term sustainability. In this regard we are happy to note that the IAEA is bringing out a guidance document as also a document on the applications of research reactors. 

22. I am glad that the IAEA recently conducted an RCA Workshop in Bangkok on “Improvement of Research Reactor Operation and Utilisation” at which all RCA members agreed to share research reactor resources. This is a welcome trend and could become a model for other regions as well.

Annex-4 : Food Irradiation

23. Preservation of food by radiation is an important emerging technology. It can be applied for improving food security, food safety and international trade in food commodities. Foods processed by radiation are safe and nutritionally adequate. The technology is being increasingly adopted worldwide. In India, advances have been made in the development of the technology and establishment of regulatory framework for its commercial application. It may also be noted that India has enacted legislation on food irradiation in 1996.

24. The commodities approved for irradiation processing are onions, spices, potatoes, rice, semolina, wheat flour, mango, raisins, figs, dry dates, ginger, garlic shallots, meat and meat products including chicken. Further, approval is being obtained for the radiation processing of fresh sea foods, frozen sea foods, dried sea foods, pulses and their products. A demonstration plant for processing of spices and condiments is already in operation near Mumbai. In addition, the following facilities are authorized to carry out food irradiation (1) Food Package Irradiator (Pilot Plant), FIPLY, Food Technology Division BARC, Mumbai and (2) The Shriram Applied Radiation Centre (SARC), New Delhi, (500 Kci). Another technology demonstration plant called POTON is coming up in Nasik for processing onions, potato and other low-dose requiring products. This information could be also reflected in this document.

25. Mr. Chairman, before I conclude, I would like to reiterate the importance of this document. India, along with other members of the G-77, had requested for the inclusion of Nuclear Technological Review as an agenda item, on a regular basis, in the March meetings of the Board of Governors. We are glad that our request has been acceded to. It may be worthwhile to forward this Review, along with the comments of the Board, to the General Conference. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ambassador T.P. Sreenivasan’s Statement in response to DG’s Introductory Statement at the Board of Governors on March 22, 2001

Mr. Chairman,

Mr. Chairman, since I am making a few observations on the Director General’s introductory statement to the Board, may I begin by expressing my personal satisfaction over the decision we took yesterday to endorse Mr. Elbaradei for another term . The statement that he made at the opening of the Board meetings has further reinforced our trust in him.

Mr. Chairman, we have already spoken about some of the issues that the DG stressed in his introductory statement. I shall confine myself to making some observations on those points which we had not covered in our earlier interventions. 

First on nuclear power. I thought that DG’s observations on the subject were very fair when I heard them first. But the wisdom of his statement became even clearer after the very fascinating debate that we had in the Board on this particular issue. The debate was fascinating in the sense that the two points of view came fairly clearly and there were sufficient arguments on both sides to make us ponder over the future of nuclear power. I think that the summary made by you yesterday was also very fair. While you noted the various points of view, you also noted the agreement that we shall leave it to the individual countries to pursue the kind of path that they consider appropriate for themselves. This is very refreshing because on certain other issues some of us tend to proselytize. On this particular issue, I think, we have taken the wise path that we follow our own lights. I hope that, as we go forward, we will be able to come to a meeting point at a future date. 

We commend the Director General for his assurance to us that the IAEA will continue to participate in both the CSD as well as in the COP of Climate Change Convention in order to secure for nuclear power “a level playing field”. We, of course, as a delegation will continue to impress upon these bodies to take into account the fact that in the foreseeable future, nuclear energy must occupy an important position in the energy mix. We will particularly emphasize the convincing arguments that we have put forward to consider nuclear energy as a part of the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol. We would warmly welcome the role of the IAEA in these bodies.

Mr. Chairman, we have nothing new to add to the safety aspects which we have already touched upon in our interventions. 

Turning to the issue regarding Myanmar, we have noted the Secretariat’s action following a directive from the ILO. We have taken note of this. We also particularly note that this action is being taken on the basis of a specific resolution of the ILO. One word of caution I would like to add here is that, we hope that this will not be the beginning of the IAEA being dragged into social issues in any member country.

We know, of course that this is not the time for us to go deep in to the Program & Budget for 2002 and 2003. But like my colleague from Pakistan, I would like to make one or two observations on the Budget. The first, of course, is to say that we have noted the important changes that the Director General has announced with regard to the Budget. These are indeed significant and in fact these seem to take into account some of the observations that the G 77 has already sent to the IAEA Secretariat. Mr. Chairman, India is not a votary of the so called concept of zero growth. We have repeatedly stated not only here but also in the other UN bodies that the Budget should be determined by the program and not the other way around. As in personal budgeting, it is the requirements that should determine the Budget, without, of course forgetting that both the ends should somehow meet. So we have a flexible approach when it comes to zero growth. Having said that, we are also happy that the growth projected now is smaller than what was originally envisaged. I am saying this in the context of the very strong views that some of our colleagues hold on zero growth. We are particularly happy that the provision for Technical Cooperation is now fairly safe and we do not need to exercise our minds on it further when we discuss the Budget. 

The last point on the Budget is what the Director General said about the strengthening of the oversight services and its coordination and integration. We hope that this will not only be economical but also an effective mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of programs. These, Mr. Chairman, are some of our initial responses to what the Director General had to say about the Budget.

Let me once again express our appreciation to the Director General for his very thoughtful introductory statement and we hope to work with him closely in the future to enable the IAEA to function effectively.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.