Statement by Mr. Md Rafiqul Alam Molla, Counsellor at the Fourth Committee of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly under agenda item 47: Effects of Atomic Radiation, 13 October 2023, Conference Room 4, UNHQs

Thank you, Madam Chair,

We commend the activities of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and appreciate the report on its Seventieth session.

Bangladesh is committed to ensuring the protection of people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. At the same time, we have taken several initiatives to utilize the nuclear energy in a peaceful manner. We have Country Programme Framework with IAEA for 2018-2023 with focus on food, agriculture, water, soil and environment, human health, nuclear power, nuclear and radiation safety and security, nuclear knowledge development and industrial applications. Under this framework, we have undertaken projects on improving food security, developing stress tolerant crop variety and cancer management. These projects have proved to be beneficial to the lives and livelihood of our people.

The Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture has developed over 100 suitable high yielding rice varieties with improved characteristics. Development of new rice varieties using nuclear techniques, have helped us to increase rice production three-fold since the 1970s.

Our first nuclear power plant is under construction. This month we have received the first shipment of Uranium to fuel the plant. We are expecting it to be operational by 2024. Once operational, the power plant will provide 2400 MW of clean energy, supporting the country’s efforts to decarbonize and become a developed economy by 2041. At the same time, we have already adopted ‘National Policy on Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Management-2019 to manage nuclear waste.  Under the policy, the radioactive waste producers are bound to keep and store the waste in sealed boxes with them for up to 10 years. The IAEA has also finished the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Mission in Bangladesh.

Mr./Madam Chair,

We recognize the independent and impartial scientific and analytical work done by the scientific Committee and different programmes of the Committee.

Please allow me to highlight a few points in this regard,

First, the importance of increasing the outreach activities and dissemination of the findings of the Committee cannot be overemphasized. We commend the progress of the implementation of the public information and outreach strategy for 2020–2024 including the successful launch and use of the new website and look forward to the new public information and outreach activity scheduled to be adopted in 2024.

Second, the planned update of the UNEP booklet entitled Radiation: Effects and Sources and the availability of the booklet in 15 languages is commendable. At the same time, we encourage to make it available in more languages.

Third, considering the relevance and connectivity of Committee’s work with different sectors, we highlight the need of synergy and cooperation with other relevant UN entities including WHO, IAEA, ILO, CTBTO etc. We also acknowledge the framework agreements signed with WHO and CTBTO in 2022.

Fourth, referring to the draft resolution, we welcome the progress of the ongoing evaluations on second primary cancer after radiotherapy, and hopeful to have completed evaluation in 2024 as envisioned. We also welcome the initiation of the new evaluation on nervous system effects of ionizing radiation and the establishment of the expert group and looking forward to the progress report as requested by the Committee.

Fifth, we appreciate the work of the Committee to improve engagement with national contact persons. Enhanced engagement with the national contact persons is needed particularly to improve the data collection status. We also emphasized on introducing alternate national contact persons to ensure continuity of engagement.

Mr./Madam Chair,

Before concluding, I reiterate Bangladesh’s support to the UN Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation. We are also pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution entitled “Effects of Atomic Radiation” and thank Canada for facilitating the work on the resolution.

I thank you.