The Additional Protocol in the General Debate

As I noted in a previous blog post, while General Debate addresses are formal, prepared and often rather dry, they also give States to summarise world as they see it and where they see themselves going. It also provides an overview, or world map, if you will, of the support for the implementation of Additional Protocols, especially in regions where implementation is weak.

It goes without saying that generally-speaking, States who have not sought approval for an Additional Protocol from the IAEA Board of Governors avoid reference to APs unless they intend to introduce one. The absence of a mention may be based on the fact that the State has no Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (Angola, Israel) or, as in the case of the Brazilian address, may indicate that they have no intention of adding an AP to their CSA in the foreseeable future, as Brazil claims that it cannot because it would lead IAEA inspectors straight into the path of legitimate military secrets. There was, of course, the notable exception of a mention of the AP in the address of Myanmar this week. Addresses can also indicate whether the State wants to bring into force an AP that it has already signed, or pressure other States to do so.

South East Asia, a region in which implementation is patchy, presented a mixed picture, aside from the unusual reference to the AP from Myanmar. Pressure to implement APs may be relaxed because the nuclear power programmes in this region are still largely in their infancy, with Bataan, the Philippine’s nuclear relic, mothballed since 1986.

However, there were two positive mentions in the addresses of the Philippines and Thailand, both countries who have signed APs that have not come into force, the latter of which assured the Conference that they were working towards ratification. This reflects plans to expand the nuclear programmes of both countries, with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand planning two nuclear power plants and the Philippines looking into a possible revival of Bataan. However, it appears that the South East Asian States are aware that, for now, discussion of implementation of safeguards and the AP remains more focussed on the Middle East than their own region. When Indonesia, which does have an AP, stated that it was “concerned that progress has not been as fast as we would have expected on the universalization of safeguards agreements and additional protocols”, this appeared to be mainly in connection to the Middle East NWFZ.

Malaysia, who signed their AP in 2005, the same year as Thailand, made no mention of it or any intention to ratify and maintained a guarded stance towards safeguards, emphasising that safeguards should not impede technological development and expressing support for Iran, whose AP is not currently in force.

There were no surprise mentions of the AP in the addresses of the Middle Eastern States, another region in which implementation is poor. Both Jordan and Iraq mentioned their individual APs, with Jordan having one in place since 1998 and Iraq having signed theirs last year. The United Arab Emirates, who signed their AP in April this year, did not make a speech. Syria and Lebanon, who have no AP, made no mention of it. This may be because the Additional Protocol is not considered a political priority by the Arab States as much as the universalisation of safeguards agreements, as highlighted in the Qatari speech, which, of course means the introduction of safeguards in Israel. This may also explain any reluctance of AP signatory States to talk of universalisation of the protocol, lest they move away from the position of the Arab States. As expected, Iran made no mention of the AP, as this would be to acknowledge that there are outstanding issues on which they have not fully cooperated with the IAEA. For now, the AP remains at lower priority than more politically stirring issues in the Middle East.