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A Conversation with Yukiya Amano

Speaker: Yukiya Amano, Director General, IAEA
Presider: Albert Carnesale, Chancellor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
November 9, 2010, New York
Council on Foreign Relations

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ALBERT CARNESALE: Good evening. I'm Albert Carnesale. It's my pleasure to preside at this event. Let me first, without further ado -- and then we'll talk some about the substance and the -- you know, the rules of the game, which many of you know, but we do have people on the phone as well.

First, you'll notice this is the David Morse lecture. So let me say one thing about it first. It's not a lecture. But there is the David Morse program that are lectures and other events. A couple of words about David Morse. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations for 30 years, a very active member. He was the director general of the International Labor Organization, the special agency of the U.N., and in 1969, on behalf of that organization, he received the Nobel Prize. This lecture, or this event series, I suppose I should call it, started four years after his death, in 1994. So that's the David Morse piece.

And let me also introduce our speaker. You have his bio, so I'm not going to say a great deal, other than director general, the International Atomic Energy Agency, since December 1, 2009, so just under a year -- but certainly enough time that we should make him feel responsible for everything that the IAEA has done, will do, hasn't done, whatever. A distinguished career in the Japanese foreign ministry: posted in Belgium, France, Laos, Switzerland and the U.S. Has had leadership positions in the foreign ministry in various aspects of nuclear energy and nuclear science, and from 2005 to 2009 was the Japanese permanent representative to the IAEA. So he's been around the IAEA a good bit. And for those of you that have institutional affiliations here in the U.S., it's important to recognize that he has been a fellow at the Monterey Institute for International Studies and at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, a place where I spent part of my career as well.

So a couple of requests. If you've got a cell phone or anything that looks like one or smells like one, make sure you make believe you're at a Broadway theater. Turn it off -- not just to vibrate but to off. We do have people on the -- on the phone.

This meeting is on the record. We will turn, after a brief conversation, the -- Director General Amano and I will have -- will turn to questions here and, to the extent that we get some, from folks who are out there on the telephone.

So I'll start with a leading question intended, really, to give the director general an opportunity just sort of for what's on his mind. But the polite way to phrase the question is, okay, you've been in the position almost a year; what do you consider to be the greatest challenges you've faced? What are the greatest opportunities? Just briefly, how do you see it?

YUKIYA AMANO: Good evening, Al. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is certainly a great honor for me to be invited here and to be with you. Almost 12 months have passed since I became the director general of the IAEA. So I thought it would be a good occasion to share my thoughts with you.

The verification of the nuclear activity is a very -- is a very important activity of the IAEA. But before addressing it, I think it is (some ?) important to clearly understand what is the role of the IAEA member states and what is the role of the IAEA. And in my view, the role of the IAEA member states is to implement fully the comprehensive safeguard agreement and other obligations. By other obligations, I mean our so-called additional protocols; that is, (tools ?) to inspect, for example, undeclared activities. It is a kind of intrusive safeguard tool.

Or Security Council resolutions. You know very well we have the resolution on Iran and on DPRK. And IAEA member states have to implement these rules fully.

On our part, the secretariat has to verify the nuclear activities and confirm that nuclear activities are staying in peaceful purposes. This is very simple, very simple; but in reality, it's difficult to implement. A typical example is Iran. Iran, we can confirm that declared activities by them stayed in peaceful purpose, but their implementation of obligations are not sufficient; therefore we cannot say -- we cannot say that all the activities in Iran are for -- are staying in peaceful activities. We have problems with Syria, DPRK, but I'm sure that we'll come back to these issues later.

Another matter which is very serious is the nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists. Every two days, the IAEA receives long report on illicit trafficking in nuclear or radioactive material. And to make matters worse, this could be the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, there is a real and imminent threat of that nuclear material or radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists. International cooperation is indispensable in this field, because terrorists always target the weakest link.

The responsibility stays on each permanent state to make sure nuclear security, but the IAEA can make the difference because we have extensive membership, of 151 countries, and we have the technical expertise. This is -- I mean, nuclear security is a priority issue for the IAEA and for me.

I would like to speak a little bit about science and technology, the future of the well-being of human beings depends on the progress of science and technology. In particular, energy is the lifeline for the prosperity and development. More and more countries turn to nuclear energy as a stable and clean source for energy. Some 60 countries come to the IAEA to seek assistance to embark on nuclear power generation. The countries that are using nuclear power -- like the United States is constructing nuclear power plants, for example. Therefore, this is a new trend, which is called nuclear renaissance. The IAEA does not say whether a country should or should not use nuclear power. But if they decide to do so, we can help them to use nuclear power safely, securely and without increasing the risk of proliferation.

The nuclear technology is useful, not only for energy purpose, but to fight against cancer, or measure or control water, or increase food production. If you have interest, I'll come back to this issue later.

Atoms for Peace is the objective of the founding fathers, and while more than half a century has passed, I believe this objective stays valid. The problem is that the world has changed a lot during this half a century, and therefore I have to run the organization so that we can achieve the founding fathers' objectives in the contemporary context. But this is, again, not so easy to implement. But at least, I stand firm against the spread of nuclear weapons, and I am fascinated to be able to help countries, people to prosper by the use of nuclear energy.

There are many other things that I would like to talk, but I am sure that we can talk during the conversation.

CARNESALE: Well, thank you. Let me follow up with several things. First, Iran, because I think people generally are most interested in countries and the application rather than the nuances of the IAEA, so let me begin with Iran. You said today, similar to what you said in your September speech to the board of governors, and I -- in almost exactly the same words, "Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."

So apparently that is still the state today. What can be done about it? What can the IAEA do? Is this ripe for what is called a special inspection, which the IAEA has the authority to perform, but has not done yet? What can be done within the purview of the IAEA? Forgetting for the moment some of the things that other people are talking about that might be done about Iray (sic), what can you do as an agency?

AMANO: Yes. What I'm asking to Iran -- to take concrete steps towards the full implementation of the comprehensive safeguard and other obligations. This means that, for example, Iran is not implementing a part of the comprehensive safeguard agreement to inform the new nuclear activities well in advance. When a country starts a new activity, they have to inform to the IAEA well in advance, but they are not implementing this clause. So this is one step.

The application or implementation of additional protocol is a part of the United Nation Security Council's resolution, and Security Council resolution is mandatory. So implementing additional protocol is a very important step that will increase our capacity to understand the activities for the -- of Iran much better.

If I take one other example, there are activities which might have military aspects. We are not saying that Iran has nuclear weapon program, but we say Iran has activities that might have a military aspect. So we would like to sit down with Iran and clarify the matters. One may think this is not possible. Is it really so?

The reason why you say that, in the past, Iran did -- Iran did apply additional protocol to -- there's more story. I was, in my previous capacity, dealing with Iranian nuclear issues, and when the application for additional protocol was on the table, they write: What is an application for additional protocol? Do they come to the -- to the government office or a country refuse it, and they worried. So I invited them. Don't worry. IAEA have -- IAEA are quite reasonable people. You can deal with them. And we have from long experience -- it just wasn't an easy experience for Japan, but we have invited IAEA inspectors, show them everything, and I invited them to a restaurant in Tokyo and explained, and I took them to the place, and after that, they decided to implement additional protocol.

They implemented the notification in advance. And they have discussed military activities with military -- possible military activities with us. So everything they did before, why can't they now? Why can't they do -- come back to doing these things again? And I think this is their benefit because they would like to have more confidence from the international community. So that was done in the past. They are not done now, and I'm appealing them, requesting them to take concrete steps, which include these examples.

CARNESALE: Well, of course, the more time passes, the more people worry about how effective this could possibly be. But let me connect that to -- you also mentioned Syria.

AMANO: Yes.

CARNESALE: And in Iran, of course, we worry not only about the declared facilities and what they might be used for, but what might be covert facilities that we don't know about.

And we're hardly comforted about what happened in Syria. Syria, it appears that the entire system failed. U.S. intelligence didn't seem to know there was a reactor there. The international community didn't seem to know there was a reactor there. Israeli intelligence seemed to figure out that there was a reactor under construction there.

I wonder if you can tell us -- because, again, you had a similar thing to say about Syria, that they too were not cooperating, and you've been unable to make progress on resolving the outstanding issues. What is the status now in Syria? Do we know? Does the IAEA -- has it confirmed that a nuclear reactor was under construction? What is the current situation?

AMANO: Okay. Let me explain just a little bit about the background, and I'll come back to where we stand now and -- where we stand now.

The question that was addressed to me is related to the site in the desert called Deir ez-Zor site. At the beginning it was very unfamiliar, but now I remember this word -- Deir ez-Zor site.

Deir ez-Zor site is a facility, then, in the desert, and it was bombarded and destroyed in 2007. After several months, this issue was brought to our attention, then the allegation that it was in fact a nuclear reactor.

My predecessor, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, asked access to the site, and in 2008 inspectors visited there. What we saw is that the facility was destroyed, the ground was cleared, the remaining building was repainted. We could collect the samples, and we brought it back.

Later, after analyzing them, the samples, we found that they are the particles of man-made uranium. But up to today, we cannot identify what is the origin.

Later I succeeded this issue, and I -- I'm keeping on requesting Syria to give us access to the site of Deir ez-Zor and some other site. But as you mentioned, Syria has not given us access, and therefore we cannot make progress.

What is the status? What is our thinking? Judging from the information that we have, we think it is possible or quite possible that it was a reactor. Why we couldn't find it? Why international -- other countries could not discover it? I think that far as we are concerned, the absence of additional protocol was a serious disadvantage. If we had -- if we had additional protocol, we could have asked as a right to visit the site and could have been able to have some information. But that may be after-thinking. Additional protocol should have been quite useful to clarify on that issue.

What I'm doing now is to continue to ask Syria to accept inspectors at the site, to the site of Deir ez-Zor and other sites. For the future option, I'm open.

CARNESALE: Why not -- if it's true if you had the additional protocol, you could have had such an inspection, what about a special inspection now? You have the authority for a special inspection. What about a special inspection in Syria?

AMANO: Special inspection is one of the tools specified in the IAEA comprehensive safeguards. It was used -- it was called for twice, in case of North Korea and Romania. Romania was a special case, but the typical case was North Korea. But North Korea did not accept it, and the matter was reported to the Security Council.

In Syria, special inspection is, of course, one of the options. But for now, I am continuing to request Syria to provide us access -- with access to continue to do that for now. For the future, as I said, I am open.

CARNESALE: I mean, I'm intentionally focusing this around countries. As you know, President Obama just left India and is now in Indonesia. So let me touch upon the U.S.-India agreement on nuclear trade, where people can make arguments for or against it. But in the context -- in the context in which we're discussing, the IAEA and safeguards, let me take one of the principal arguments against -- and I'd like your reaction -- and that is, people say, let me make sure I understand this. So we will have safeguards on the facilities that the Indians claim are not military, and we will not have safeguards on the facilities where they're producing plutonium to make nuclear weapons. Isn't this a mockery of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and of safeguards?

AMANO: Well, the -- before, four facilities were under -- as far as IAEA is concerned, my short -- very short answer is that if more facilities are placed under our safeguards, it is our net gain. In the past, only four facilities were placed under the safeguards. Now, 16 facilities are placed under safeguards. (Inaudible) -- if every country joins NPT (and there's ?) no nuclear weapons state, the world becomes nuclear-free, that is fine. But the reality now is, for now, far from that. And if you compare, a very limited number of facilities is under safeguard in India or more facilities are under safeguard in -- safeguards, bigger number is better for me.

CARNESALE: But this takes resources, and it takes resources from the IAEA to spend money safeguarding facilities in a nuclear weapons state --

AMANO: Yes. Yes. Yes.

CARNESALE: -- that are not used to produce nuclear weapons. That would hardly seem to be the optimum use of resources if what you're worried about is diversion.

AMANO: Yes, and the question is a little wider. If the question some separating on the military cycle and civilian cycle in the nuclear weapons state or those countries outside NPT, I find it has some advantage, that having separation between nuclear -- military cycle and civilian cycle.

For example, this is a different story, but United States and Russia wrote us letters to place -- to monitor the plutonium coming from the nuclear disarmament -- 17 tons from each side. And nothing has decided yet, but I find it very interesting to place this plutonium under IAEA monitoring. Negotiations have not started, but a (Cardiff ?) treaty is another interesting thing. I said this is a different thing, but the idea is to separate the military cycle and civil cycle in the nuclear weapons state. And IAEA has a role to play, and I don't think that is a bad thing.

CARNESALE: Let me turn one more on places. In the NPT review conference in 2010, they endorsed the convening of a conference in 2012, and I quote, "to be attended by all states in the Middle East on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in that region," quote-unquote. That's the entire Middle East. What progress, if any, has been made toward that conference? And what are the prospects for it actually taking place?

AMANO: Until recently, not much progress. And perhaps this is understatement. I was involved personally in this process, and I attended the 1995 NPT review conference. At this time, there was a written agreement that member states of the NPT will follow up the issue of nuclear weapon-free zone in Middle East, but after that, the follow-up was not that active.

Fortunately, in 2010 of this year, NPT review conference could agree to convene a meeting, a conference, in 2012 to address this issue. I think the agreement on this conference to be held in 2012 is already a step, maybe a small step, but a step forward. And I do hope that this meeting will take place -- this conference will take place with the participation of all the countries in the region, and IAEA can contribute in preparing documents for the conference, as we are required.

CARNESALE: Okay, one final question before we turn it to questions from the group here in the room. And this relates -- you mentioned nuclear terrorism and the concerns about it, and one of the things that makes the nuclear terrorism concern greater than some others is the relatively small quantities. It was hard to imagine states building nuclear arsenals of one weapon, or two or three, but one or two or three in the hands of a terrorist organization is rather frightening.

Now, there is this Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which would safeguard to some extent material in international transport. And there is a proposed amendment that would extend that to materials within states. What is the status of that, and what are the prospects?

AMANO: This is some -- a priority issue for me. The amendment from the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material is not a high-profile issue, but as you said, with this amendment, this convention will be applied not only to the nuclear material in transportation, but nuclear material in the country. And that is very significant progress.

Therefore, I have taken up this issue in the General Conference of the IAEA in September, and I stressed this point in my statement in the General Assembly on Monday this week. We are organizing meetings to sensitize the member states to ratify this amendment.

I completely agree with you that this is an important issue and we need to give higher profile to this issue to strengthen the nuclear security.

CARNESALE: Okay, thank you.

Now questions from the group. I'd like to invite members to ask questions. If you would raise your hand, I think we have somebody with a microphone that will bring it around. And please stand and state your affiliation.

For those of you that are on the phone, I remind you that you can submit a question by e-mail, and we will try to fit some of those in.

So right here, sir. We have a question right here.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Jonathan Chanis, New Tide Asset Management. Can you share with us the agency's view on the Stuxnet virus in Iran? And has it done anything to the program in Iran? The computer virus.

AMANO: (Inaudible.)

QUESTIONER: The computer virus, Stuxnet.

AMANO: Oh, yes. Yes. We have -- we have inspectors in Iran. We go -- I mean, our inspectors go to facilities -- Iran. But we do not find irregular things. We do not find anything that attract our particular attention.

QUESTIONER: Has it slowed down the program?

AMANO: No. The pace is not always the same, but I do not receive report from our inspectors that pace has slowed down or things are different.

CARNESALE: Other questions? Sir, right there.

QUESTIONER: I'm Michael Adler, from the Wilson Center. Hi, Mr. Amano.

You -- Mr. Amano, you said that you were open towards moving more strongly against Syria. What does that mean? The United States is pressing very strongly for special inspections. Do you expect that this will come up at the November board? And would you advocate special inspections?

And just one question about Iran, if I may. Do you find -- there seems to be an increased atmosphere of confrontation at the IAEA, especially between you and the Iranian ambassador. Do you think that is -- how do you explain that? And do you think that is hindering at all the effectiveness of your ability to work in Iran, especially after what happened with the two inspectors who were asked to leave?

CARNESALE: I should mention that I should have said one question to a person -- but I'm sure you would have been creative enough to make it sound like one question. (Laughter.)

Yes, go ahead.

AMANO: (Laughs.) The first question was on -- I'm not --

CARNESALE: Special inspections.

AMANO: Oh, special inspections. Special inspections. I didn't say that I will take a (stronger position/strong opposition ?) on Syria. What I said is that there has not been progress, but for now I keep on asking Syria to accept our inspectors at the site of Deir ez-Zor and other locations. And when I am asked about special inspections for the future, I am open.

Special inspection is one of the tools, but there are other tools, and we need to think well. Nothing has been decided. Nothing has been decided, except that for now I continue to seek access to that Deir ez-Zor site and other locations. Nothing has been decided and I am open does not mean that I have called for special inspection in December. I don't think so.

CARNESALE: And the other part of your one question was about Iran, right, and relations with --

AMANO: Ah, relations. There's nothing between Ambassador Soltanieh and me. This isn't a personal thing. We are -- we are not dealing with personal issues. IAEA is a huge organization of -- having 2,300 personnel. We have hundreds of inspectors, some expert team analyzing the information very carefully. And I receive all the reports, and I pass my judgment on -- I pass my judgment and give -- go sign to the final report. There is nothing personal at all.

But the situation is that Iran is not implementing the Security Council resolutions and cooperation isn't sufficient, and we cannot -- we cannot confirm that all the activities in Iran is for peaceful activities. And there are certain reaction from Iran. And I don't think that is anything personal.

For the relation between Iran and myself, since I became the director general of the IAEA, I had a meeting with the foreign minister twice, and in September I had a meeting with Mr. Salehi, the head of the AEOI. And our staff, our senior staff have meeting with Ambassador Soltanieh, and myself of course see him from time to time. There is a good communication line. And confrontational? Well, the task is not easy, I accept it. But the good communication line is there, and I am willing to address this issue, according to the rule.

CARNESALE: Yes.

QUESTIONER: I'm Stephanie Cooke with the Energy Intelligence Group. I have a question for you further afield, in South America. I wondered if you would kind of compare and contrast the situation in -- with the Iranian enrichment program and the Brazilian enrichment program, because, as we all know, there were -- the Brazilians prevented inspectors' seeing parts of the plant a few years back. And I think some arrangements were made, though I'm not sure whether they're completely satisfactory as far as the IAEA is concerned, but also because that program originally grew out of a military organization. And while you're doing that, perhaps you could comment on what effect it might be having on the Argentinians' thinking and decision to enrich, and longer-term, the Venezuelans. (Chuckles.)

CARNESALE: (Off mike.) There must be some other countries in -- (inaudible) -- that we can -- (laughter).

AMANO: Okay. Let me take it one question -- about Latin America. On some -- my short answer is this. Nothing comparable. Iran is a special case, unusual case. Why it is so? Because we have more Security Council resolutions. Iran has a record of concealment and breaches, and some -- it was -- decided to be in noncompliance of some safeguard agreement and reporting to the Security Council. Iran is not implementing a part of the comprehensive safeguard. And these are some of the special characteristics of the Iranian nuclear issue.

Brazil, Argentina and other countries do not have these elements at all. They are completely different things. Certainly for the safeguard agreement, we are talking with them how best we can inspect -- we -- how best we can conduct the verifications. Sometimes it takes time. But it happens with other countries, too. In that sense, I never thought comparing Iran and Latin American countries. I'm very clear about that.

CARNESALE: There are other -- yes.

QUESTIONER: (Off mike.) Mr. Amano, on Syria, could you tell us, under what circumstances could it follow in its ally Iran's footsteps and end up at the Security Council, possibly being sanctioned for not allowing your inspectors into the country?

AMANO: For now, I'm saying that I'm asking Syria to accept inspectors' visits to the Deir site and others. It's some -- not appropriate to discuss about Security Council -- report to the Security Council.

QUESTIONER: But you mentioned other -- (off mike) --

AMANO: Oh. If I misled you, I'm terribly sorry. I did not mean that I reported to the secretary about -- by no means.

QUESTIONER: (Off mike) --

AMANO: The -- for example, we have to -- I did not want to get into too much in details, so I focused on Deir ez-Zor site. But we have another site at -- near Damascus, on research reactor, and we have sent down our teams. We've got some new declarations. And we are discussing with them. So our dialogue, inspection, is the normal way, and I am pursuing this route now.

CARNESALE: Yes.

QUESTIONER: (Off mike) -- at the Social Science Research Council in New York. Your predecessors -- your immediate predecessors both called for policy changes by other actors in the IAEA -- in particular the United States -- but also, you know, urged policies that might help the IAEA do its job in terms of the policy actions of those other states. You haven't. Would it help in dealing with Iran to call on the others to do -- attempt serious negotiations now? Would that help you?

AMANO: Yes. That help us. When I had a discussion with -- I limited myself on the activities of the IAEA. I did not talk about other countries' or bodies' activities. But in my view, the IAEA's role is to verify the implementation of safeguard and other obligations, and confirm nuclear material stay in peaceful purpose. That is our mission. And if we cannot confirm, we send signals, we alert the international community. That is our function.

It means that what we can do is limited. We are functioning based on our institute -- on our statute. Some other countries, influential countries like the United States, others, may have other means. The United Nations is a different body, and it has some -- it is a very influential international body.

Now, just in case of North Korea -- we may discuss this later, but one of the unfortunate things about Iran is that we don't have a well-functioning framework of dialogues. In case of North Korea, six-parties talk is not that smooth, but still we have the frame of dialogue. And it is very helpful to -- just the situation.

Certainly, the efforts of the United States, European countries, are very helpful to solve the situation. And I understand that Iran is also willing to have dialogue with P-5 plus one.

CARNESALE: (Off mike.)

QUESTIONER: (Name inaudible.) Mr. Amano, the agreement with the Indians, according to, say, the Arms Control Association, lacks Indian agreement on a dozen or more kinds of supplementary agreements that other countries who have been authorized exports by the Nuclear Supplier Groups (sic), et cetera. And I believe now, if I understand through the newspapers, President Obama has suggested that the declared nuclear-weapons states meet with the Indians just as if they were a previously declared nuclear-weapons state. I will not hide my feelings that I think the United States made a very serious mistake, but I don't ask you to comment on that.

However, do you think that what the U.S. has done with India, and other countries seem to be going along with it, is a useful precedent for other countries? Would we -- would you favor offering the same kind of arrangement to North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, anyone else? Is this the wave of the future?

AMANO: What United States -- (inaudible) -- bilateral agreement between India and the United States, and before that, there was an important (move at ?) the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and since the middle of the 1990s. Before that, they didn't have, but NSG had a rule not to export nuclear materials to the countries that do not have comprehensive safeguards. And this was lifted in relation to India.

Sometimes I'm asked my view on this, but the decision for NSG is a decision of some -- another organization with which I don't have any relation. I'm not a member of this. They have made their decision according to their rule and by consensus. So perhaps I had better not to make comments from what NSG should do or should not have done, or member states or sovereign states do or not to do.

CARNESALE: I have a question here from William Potter of the Monterey Institute, who probably knows you very well. Bill asked: Do you believe that the IAEA Board of Governors will vote on the Nuclear Threat Initiative proposal for a fuel bank? And if so, will a vote be helpful in gaining support for the approach among those countries whom it is designed to help?

Let me say for a moment, with regard to Bill's question, that you asked recently for the Nuclear Threat Initiative to extend for another year its offer of $50 million to go to this reactor fuel bank for assured fuel supply, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative did comply. So a broader way to ask this question is, how are we doing on the fuel bank? Do people seem to be interested? What are the process -- what are the prospects for that?

AMANO: I'll answer to this question, and also I would like to explain a little bit about the nuclear fuel bank idea. There are various mechanisms, but the idea is to establish a reserve, a real reserve or conceptual reserve, of low-enriched uranium, and when market is disrupted, other than economical reasons, then this bank will function, upon request from the member states.

Now a lot of countries are interested in embarking on nuclear power, and that is a huge investment. And if that is the case, it is understandable that these countries worry about the destruction of supply of nuclear fuel. A nuclear fuel bank mechanism is perceived in that contest -- context, and that is an interesting option. It was an interesting option, and in reality, in November last year, one proposal on the reserve of low-enriched uranium was adopted by the Board of Governors, proposed by -- the idea was proposed by Russia, and it will be operational in the coming months.

Another reality is that this proposal was not adopted by consensus. The Board of Governors of the IAEA have 35 member states, but more than 10 countries objected, opposed or abstained in -- on the vote for this idea. So there was a quite large majority, but there was also a quite important objection or abstention too.

Coming back to the issue of -- from NTI proposal, we have had a request to put this on the agenda of the December board. We have heard in September that Secretary Chu was to move this idea ahead. So there's some good possibility that the proposal of NTI will be -- will be put on a vote. I don't think that will be by consensus, but it is likely that there are -- there are supports from quite a large number of countries. At the same time, there will be views that are against, or abstain.

Nevertheless, I think IAEA is the best venue to discuss this issue of nuclear fuel bank. We are -- we can make sure of the most transparent environment, every country can participate in the discussion on equal-footed basis, and the secretariat can provide professional advice, technical advice.

CARNESALE: Let me ask -- it comes from this -- some of these others. When we speak about the nuclear renaissance which you mentioned, the possible expansion of nuclear power, the concern that people have is not so much the spread of nuclear reactors -- the spread of the facilities for processing fissile materials, whether it's enrichment plants or reprocessing plants or fuel fabrication plants, where the amount of material unaccounted for, that you simply can't measure well enough by a mass balance, is enough to produce several weapons per year, quite often; and again, if you're worried about the terrorism. Are we -- do we need some different system to deal with the terrorism threat, the problems of small numbers of nuclear weapons arising from enrichment reprocessing or fabrication plants, as opposed to the reactors themselves?

AMANO: New system for verification?

CARNESALE: Yes, because this can -- I mean, coming -- if the IAEA comes back and says, well, we did a mass balance, and there's only enough missing to make five nuclear weapons, this is not going to bring a great deal of comfort to people. This is a physical limitation. This is not a problem of the IAEA; it's a problem for the IAEA that I'm asking about.

AMANO: I have -- this is a question of material unaccounted for.

CARNESALE: Yes.

AMANO: When we do the reprocessing, sometimes in and out does not coincide. This is the essence of the problem.

I have -- I was involved in one of the cases in Japan -- Japan is doing reprocessing -- under my previous capacity. Japan was doing reprocessing, and we want to be very cautious, and we were told to be very cautious. So we moved from manual system to the automatic system, so that no one can intervene. Then we found a strange phenomenon: When we were doing manually, mass was small; but when we moved to the -- to the automatic system, the mass increased gradually. And we tried to understand what happened. We have taken all the -- all the precautions, we prohibited all the access, and the unknown material is increasing.

Then we have checked. We talked to -- we reported to the IAEA. And we jointly examined the situation, and what we found was that, as we cannot do it manually, the piping is quite complicated. And at the corner -- at the corner -- there were small, small particles, or grains of material. And as they are very heavy, a small amount accumulated can become quite the big amount; not several -- equivalent for several weapons, but it is a quite significant amount. So we have stopped the system. We have created everything, and we made improvement and we resolved this issue.

There were other issues, too. When we do reprocessing, we have to cut the spent fuel to put it in the chemicals. But a very small amount -- infiltrating to water. That -- and the amount is lower than the natural background; still, some mass is lost. Then we have the formula to calculate, but again, we had (mass -- a mass ?). And we compared with -- conducted the arithmetics, and we found our formula was not good. So we improved it, and the amount was found to be -- to be right.

So it -- I made a long statement, but we just had a safeguard symposium in November. In safeguard area, we need to make progress all the time. We always have to make progress. We need to learn from the experience, like the (mass ?) in Japan, in other facilities, and we need to improve it. New technologies need it. Our anticipation, our calculation should have been long, and new equipment, lesson from -- a lesson learned will be useful to better control the amount of material unaccounted for.

CARNESALE: Thank you. There was a question right there.

QUESTIONER: (Off mike) -- from Agence France Press news agency.

Yesterday in your speech to the General Assembly, you said you were seriously concerned about North Korea. And you used language that was perhaps stronger than your description of events in Iran.

Which of the two worries you most?

AMANO: This is difficult to say. In essence, the situation in North Korea is very bad. They have declared to withdraw from the NPT. They asked the inspectors to leave the country. They -- or they do not claim that they have -- they have peaceful activities. They have major activities. And they have even claimed they have detonated nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. This is a very serious situation. And there are also allegations that they are cooperating with some other countries. Well, this is a very serious situation. And this is not an only regional situation. This has implications to the global security.

So I think -- (inaudible) -- we cannot do a lot for now. We don't have one of the inspectors ?) there. We don't have personnel there. But as an international organization, if I find this is an important, serious situation, I need to make myself known, my view known. And that is why I said this is a serious situation. We cannot make a new, nice report, but the situation is serious. Discussion does not go away, and so that is reason why I said so.

But I hope we -- that we have the six parties talk. Six parties talk has never been smooth, but it can -- (inaudible) -- its functions. And it's even agreed that the denuclearization of -- for Korean Peninsula, sometimes it makes two steps forward, one step backward -- or one step forward, two steps backwards, I don't know. But we have the framework. It has never been a static framework. That was rather dynamic, if we look back to this issue with a certain (span ?), and the hope is the dialogue. But the situation is serious.

CARNESALE: We had a question from Michael Intriligator at UCLA that follows up on this direction. What he pointed out is that we have an example of North Korea that didn't test in violation of the treaty. They withdrew from the treaty and tested.

People are worried about Iran perhaps not violating the treaty in terms of actually making a weapon and detonating it, but withdrawing from the treaty. And the concern, might this be the new model, that you get these facilities where you can get the stockpiles of uranium or enriched uranium or plutonium, and then withdraw from the treaty.

Is this something that keeps you up awake at night? Or do you feel -- how do you feel about this problem?

AMANO: Well, withdrawal from NPT has been an issue at the NPT regular conference for years. And this issue of withdrawal is an important issue. But North Korea has lots of difficulties. I don't think people even (out there ?) are not satisfied with the current situation. And so other countries, do they want to be like North Korea? No. (Laughs.)

CARNESALE: I don't think so.

Well, I'm afraid I'm going to -- we're out of time. I'm told, just before I say thank you and ask everybody to adjourn or anything -- needless to say, when we have a meeting like this, we focus on the problems. We focus on the issues. IAEA safeguards are enforced in many countries in the world, and we feel a lot better -- (laughs) -- for what you're doing, and we worry a lot less about those places. But those aren't fun to talk about. What's fun to talk about and what's important to talk about are, what are the places we have problems?

So I know the entire group both on the phone and here wants to join me in thanking Mr. Yukiya Amano for this excellent conversation. (Applause.)

AMANO: Thank you very much.

CARNESALE: Thank you.

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