The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei has called for the creation of a group of experts to examine international controls on the use of weapons usable material such as plutonium and enriched uranium in civilian nuclear power programmes.

Speaking to the latest IAEA general conference in Vienna, and during a time of stand-offs over the alleged corruption of civil nuclear power in North Korea and Iran into weapons production programmes, ElBaradei said the use of such material should “be permitted only under multilateral control.” He said the same rules should apply for the production of new material through reprocessing and enrichment. He announced that the IAEA had raised $23 million for security measures ranging from emergency plans against “malicious acts” to combating the smuggling of radioactive materials.

ElBaradei added that an expert group would usefully be formed to consider these issues. This team should also consider international co-operation on the construction and operation of international waste repositories, he said, given that many countries do not have “the appropriate conditions for geologic disposal” of nuclear waste, and where they do “some are too small or poor to afford required investments for constructing and operating underground disposal facilities.” Meanwhile, ElBaradei spoke on a decision to establish an international expert group on nuclear liability, which will advise national regulators on the subject and on improving existing IAEA rules. He also noted that the agency continues to be asked for advice about national radiation protection regulations, in particular to upgrade safety precautions to take account of growing security concerns. The director general added that in the coming year, the agency would continue to promote quality assurance schemes, help member states develop energy planning assessments and their decommissioning efforts.