IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
Statement by Mr Jarrod Powell, Alternate Representative, Australian Permanent Mission to the IAEA
Agenda Item 4: Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications
13-17 September 2021
Thank you, Chair
Australia thanks Deputy Directors General Mokhtar and Chudakov for their introductory comments on this agenda item. We also thank the Director General for his report on Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications.
Australia commends the Secretariat for its continued use of virtual meetings and other innovative methods to support Member States in their efforts to maintain and coordinate important nuclear activities. In the post-COVID-19 era, virtual platforms have become critical to the continued participation of delegates from many Member States in the Agency’s nuclear science, technology and applications.
As we noted under the previous agenda item, Australia continues to emphasise the importance of minimising the civilian use of highly enriched uranium. We welcome the efforts of the Agency in supporting Member States’ efforts to eliminate highly enriched uranium from nuclear medicine production and convert research reactors from highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium fuel.
We thank the Secretariat for the brief update provided on the Agency-wide platform on small and medium sized or modular reactors and their applications. Given the cross-cutting nature of this topic, we anticipate that many sections and divisions of the Agency, including within the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, will be closely involved in the platform. There is significant interest from Member States in this work. We would welcome further detail on the platform and its functions.
Australia continues to utilise its nuclear science and technology expertise to help in the battle against COVID-19. The Australian Synchrotron is being used to study the way in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus interacts with human proteins. With this knowledge, existing drugs that target these processes may be repurposed to reduce the impact of COVID-19 infection. In another study, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, or ANSTO, is cooperating with international researchers to improve understanding about the way in which the virus disrupts cell membranes when it invades the body, with the potential for the development of new classes of drug treatments.
With these examples of the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology helping us respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcome the Director General’s report.
Thank you, Chair.