Delivered by the Acting Secretary General, Dr Filimon Manoni
Third briefing of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the Pacific Islands Forum members
08 February 2023
Good morning Excellencies, Senior Officials, Colleagues, and special recognition to our friends from the IAEA here with us this morning.
We take this opportunity again to welcome all of you to this important session on an issue of utmost importance to Pacific Islands.
I welcome Mr Gustavo Caruso, the Director and Coordinator of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and your team. Welcome to Fiji, Bula Vinaka.
As we all know, the meeting today relates to the issue that Forum Leaders have been trying to address with the Government of Japan relating to Japan’s plans to discharge over a million tonnes of ALPS treated nuclear wastewater into the Pacific.
We have been actively engaged on the issue since that decision was announced in 2021. We have closely maintained engagement both with Japan and the IAEA to try and understand the implications and what this means for the Pacific Islands, the Pacific Ocean, the people and the environment.
As you know, we had two prior briefing sessions by the IAEA Director General, Ambassador Raphael Grossi, in 2021 and in July of 2022.
We have also had some exchanges with the IAEA on the work undertaken by the PIF expert panel, and to request a meeting between the IAEA experts as well as the PIF panel of experts.
It is appreciated that the IAEA has seen the magnitude of the concern to the Pacific to come here today to speak to us on the role of the IAEA, the scope of its review, and the observations by its Taskforce on the host of questions that are at the forefront of the minds of our Pacific Leaders and communities.
We did also invite members of the PIF expert panel to join this session. In the spirit of cooperation, the work of the PIF panel has been shared with Japan as well as with the IAEA.
The unfortunate accident of March 2011 does remind us of the challenges of nuclear safety and so we constantly strive for higher standards in terms of safety to lives, as well as to the environment and human health.
I think many of us in the region do not need to be reminded about the seriousness of the issue. We live with the legacy of nuclear contamination as a result of the post-WW2 nuclear testing programmes, and in the Pacific at least we have the moral authority to speak on this issue.
As you will note from the agenda, we will receive a presentation from the IAEA, and we will also have the opportunity for questions and comments.
With those brief remarks, may I now hand it over to Mr Caruso, but first of all Mr Caruso and your team, thank you very much for coming to the Pacific to share your perspectives with us. We do appreciate your presence here and we understand also how important you consider this particular issue is for the Pacific.