On behalf of the delegation of Sri Lanka, it is a great pleasure to add my words of congratulation to those already expressed to his Excellency Adnan Bin Othman, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Malaysia on his election as President of the sixtieth regular Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I would also like to congratulate the Vice Presidents and other elected officers. We are confident that under your able guidance and leadership, the Conference would achieve a meaningful outcome. My delegation assures you of our whole hearted support in this task.
Let me also convey my sincere appreciation to his predecessor His Excellency Mr. Filippo Formica, Permanent Representative of Italy, for his dedication and hard work.
I am pleased to note the steady expansion of the IAEA membership. Sri Lanka welcomes the three new members, the Islamic Republic of the Gambia, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and congratulates them on the occasion of their joining the IAEA.
I also wish to thank Mr. Yukiya Amano, Director General for his comprehensive report on the work of the IAEA over the past year, as well as for outlining the significant achievements and contributions of the Agency towards international peace and development as it celebrates its sixtieth Anniversary this year.
The IAEA has a unique role in promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The Annual Report 2015 provides information on the activities undertaken by the Agency in delivering on its multi-faceted mandate and supporting Member States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, meet growing energy needs, improve food security and human health in a sustainable manner, promote and strengthen global nuclear safety and nuclear security and contribute to non-proliferation.
The global nuclear community has made further progress in strengthening and improving safety. The challenges faced by Member States during the year highlighted the importance of ongoing international collaboration, cooperation and capacity building. The Agency continued to contribute to global efforts to secure nuclear facilities and to ensure the security of radioactive material in use, storage or transport and to assist Member States in building capabilities and worked to strengthen the nuclear safety and security framework globally through national and international programmes and activities. Nuclear safety and security continued to be the priority thematic area in the Asia and the Pacific region and human resource development is regarded as essential for the sustainability of nuclear security regimes. The support provided by the Agency to its Member States throughout the year, in their efforts to meet their national responsibilities and international obligations is of a great value.
The two day Scientific Forum on Nuclear Technology for Sustainable Development Goals this week, will provide further details on the role of nuclear technology in achieving SDGs in the fields of health, food security, energy and the environment.
Nuclear security is an important global issue and Sri Lanka supports global and regional initiatives to enhance nuclear security and welcomes the steps taken by the IAEA to strengthen measures in this respect.
The International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Action to be held in December this year will provide the opportunity for policy makers, legal, regulatory and technical experts to engage in meaningful discussion at the scientific and technical programme. I hope that the Ministerial Declaration will include meaningful outcomes and commitment to move ahead on global nuclear issues.
I wish to acknowledge the assistance provided by the IAEA Department of Nuclear Security to train officers of the Sri Lanka Security Forces, Customs, Seaport, Airport, Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board and the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Regulatory Council.
Sri Lanka would appreciate further training, and is interested in working with IAEA to use our experts in other relevant missions on nuclear security.
I also wish to note the significant work of the IAEA with regard to nuclear safety and to acknowledge the Director General’s report on “Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety”, which provides information in this respect. The Director General’s report subtitled “Building on the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety” as requested by the General Conference last year is much appreciated.
In view of the importance of adhering to international requirements in radiation safety, security and safeguards and creating the necessary legal framework for this purpose, the Parliament of Sri Lanka enacted the “Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Act No. 40 of 2014” which came into effect on 1st January 2015. The Act which incorporates the principles adopted in the IAEA Conventions and Guidelines, established the Atomic Energy Board and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Council.
As the designated focal point to the IAEA, the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board carries out qualitative, dedicated work in advancing cooperation in the technical areas and facilitating coordination of technical assistance in addition to other mandated tasks.
The establishment of an independent regulatory authority which is also responsible for meeting the obligations of Sri Lanka under the Safeguards Agreement and other international conventions of the IAEA demonstrates Sri Lanka’s dedication and commitment towards ensuring absolutely peaceful nature of nuclear applications and the use of nuclear technology in Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working with the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Regulatory Council on the issue of signing, ratifying and acceding to treaties relevant to the field. The enactment of this Law would not have been possible if not for the assistance provided by the Office of Legal Affairs of the Agency, which is greatly appreciated.
In order to harness the benefits of nuclear science and technology for the advancement of national development, the Government of President Maithripala Sirisena has given priority to addressing the energy needs of Sri Lanka through an appropriate energy mix. The expert assistance provided on the use of IAEA energy planning tools to the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) to review the Long Term Generation Plan of Sri Lanka and the training provided to officers of PUSCL on the Model for analysis of Energy Demand are highly appreciated.
Sri Lanka is considering to examine the possibility of utilizing nuclear power as an option to meet the country’s growing energy demands as its economy expands and industry diversifies. This was discussed with IAEA experts during the visit of the Hon. Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy of Sri Lanka in June this year.
The Agency’s technical assistance has contributed to many countries effectively addressing challenges that they cannot meet all alone. The IAEA workshop held this month in Kuala Lumpur on the use of Sterile Insect Technique to suppress mosquito populations, would undoubtedly benefit many countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Sri Lanka is interested in this initiative.
The project “Upgrading Nuclear Medicine Diagnostic Imaging Facilities at the University of Peradeniya” implemented at the Nuclear Medicine Unit with IAEA assistance has proved to be a boon to patients in rural areas. In fact, this project has become one of the success stories of the Agency.
The establishment of a National Centre for Research, Training and Services in Medical and Molecular Entomology for Vector-borne Disease Control, another major project being successfully implemented at the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka under the 2016-2017 TC cycle, will assist solving issues due to vector-borne diseases.
Sri Lanka has received assistance to improve the capacity to identify Sri Lankan adolescents at risk of cardiovascular diseases and to intervene in order to prevent future disease.
TC programmes have also assisted with poverty alleviation in Sri Lanka by providing rural women dairy farmers high producing cattle, to enhance their livelihood through increased national milk production while conserving national dairy genetic resources.
Sri Lanka is also receiving technical assistance from the IAEA for establishing a National Centre for Nuclear Agriculture as well as a National Centre for Marine Applications in collaboration with national stake holders, the Marine Environmental Prevention Authority (MEPA) and the National Aquatic Resource Authority (NARA).
The IAEA has provided technical assistance and arranged for fellowship training at the Government-owned Multipurpose Gamma Irradiation Facility which provides irradiation services for industrial products. More participants are expected at this center.
The Agency continued to provide energy assessment services to Member States in conducting energy planning studies which help countries to evaluate how different technologies can potentially help them to meet their energy needs.
The expert assistance provided to the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) by the Agency in order to review the Long Term Generation Plan of Sri Lanka is highly appreciated and the training provided to officers of PUSCL on the Model for analysis of Energy Demand by these experts was very useful.
The Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) of which Sri Lanka has been a participant since 1976, has enabled assistance in developing Non Destructive Testing (NDT) in following up on the programmes introduced by the RCA. Sri Lanka has recognized the importance of the NDT in enhancing safety and productivity in industry. The National Centre for Non-Destructive Testing (NCNDT) established with this purpose is currently receiving technical assistance under IAEA TC project. Seven participants from Nepal and Myanmar are currently undergoing fellowship training at this center.
Over the past twelve months, as in-kind contribution to the Agency, Sri Lanka has hosted four IAEA international events. While contributing to the development of knowledge and skills of international participants, Sri Lankan scientists also have benefited from this exposure and interaction. Sri Lanka will also host another two IAEA events “First Research Coordination Meeting on Improved Assessment of Initial Alarms from Radiation Detection Instruments, from 17 - 21 October 2016” and “Train-the- Trainers Course for Radiation Protection Officers of Medical and Industrial Facilities, from 03 - 07 October 2016. We are open to the idea of hosting further seminars workshops or training programme, this year and in the coming year.
We are pleased that technical assistance will be forthcoming under the next biennium programme commencing in 2018. The combined use of isotopic and chemical techniques to resolve the fate of contaminants in hydro-geological system is one of the five projects which is of national importance and expected to be implemented under the next TC cycle of the Agency.
Let me take this opportunity to also reiterate our call for assistance from the IAEA to help contain the fast spreading Chronic Kidney Disease in parts of Sri Lanka. This is currently one of the urgent priorities for the health and water management sectors.
Sri Lanka acknowledges with deep appreciation the assistance to these and many of other initiatives extended through the IAEA TC Programme and look forward to more opportunities in the field of nuclear science and technology. The International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme to be held in Vienna next year will provide the opportunity to discuss the many successes in this respect and to plan future programmes.
Sri Lanka, under the National Unity Government, has adopted Good Governance, Accountability and Rule of Law as an important policy plank. The Government is conscious of the need to strengthen technology and research institutes, in order to be able to accomplish the benefits of nuclear science and technology, for the advancement of national development.
During previous years, Sri Lanka has noted that the number of professional posts held by Sri Lankan Scientists, Administrative and Management professionals has decreased. This is of concern to Sri Lanka and should receive the attention that it deserves.
I wish to thank the Director General Amano and the Secretariat of the IAEA for the arrangements made for this Conference as well as for their excellent cooperation with Sri Lanka in all aspects of Agency’s work. We look forward to working with the IAEA in a spirit of cooperation.