U.S. Statement on the Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2008
IAEA Board of Governors Meeting March 2-6, 2009
Agenda Item 2
Measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation and transport safety and waste management:
Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2008
Extract From U.S. Statement – As Prepared
Gregory L Schulte
Permanent U.S. Representative to the IAEA
This is the first meeting of the IAEA Board since the inauguration of President Obama. This is a moment of complex challenge for the IAEA, but also a moment of unparalleled opportunity with a renewed American commitment to the United Nations and multilateral diplomacy. My delegation notes with appreciation the positive interest of Member States in the U.S. Presidential election and in the ongoing adjustment and review of U.S. policies, including many that affect the work of the Agency. I hope, Madame Chairwoman, you will permit me to start my intervention with five points on behalf of the new U.S. Administration.
First, President Obama and his new Administration strongly support the International Atomic Energy Agency in all aspects of its mission. We seek to strengthen the IAEA and to ensure that the Agency gets the authority, information, people, and technology it needs to do its job. Our top priority is the verification role of the Agency, which is essential to creating the confidence that enables countries worldwide to benefit from peaceful use of nuclear technology. This essential verification role will grow as more and more countries invest in nuclear power to provide clean energy for growth and development. Instruments like the Additional Protocol will become increasingly important not just for verification but to build confidence among nations.
Second, we support the important role the IAEA plays in global efforts to help countries adopt the highest standards for nuclear security and protection of nuclear materials. President Obama has identified preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological weapons as his number one security priority. The National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy is already pursuing a major Global Threat Reduction Initiative to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites worldwide. We will continue to look to the IAEA for support in global efforts to secure nuclear materials; to phase out the use of highly enriched uranium in the civil nuclear sector; to strengthen international intelligence and police cooperation to prevent WMD terrorism; and to help build the capacity of governments around the world to prevent the theft or diversion of nuclear materials.
Third, President Obama has expressed strong support for the creation of an IAEA-administered nuclear fuel bank. While in the U.S. Senate, both he and Secretary Clinton supported legislation providing $50 million to the IAEA in response to the challenge grant from the Nuclear Threat Initiative. The Administration wants to work with the IAEA and Member States to put into place a fuel bank that would allow countries to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy without increasing the risks of nuclear proliferation. We welcome the initiatives by the Russian Federation and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, as well as by many others.
Fourth, we believe that preserving the Agency’s credibility in implementing NPT safeguards depends on our success in dealing with the immediate challenges – specifically those posed by North Korea, Iran, and Syria. The new Administration intends to strengthen diplomatic efforts to address each of these challenges. One principle will remain constant and is shared by us all: The need for countries to abide by their international obligations, including cooperation with the IAEA. We must strengthen and revalidate this important Agency rather than allowing those who violate their obligations to discredit it.
Fifth, the new Administration recognizes that the IAEA’s essential role in nonproliferation is part of a broader international effort that includes diplomacy and disarmament. While the IAEA must pursue its essential verification role, there is also a role for diplomacy in ensuring the viability of the NPT. Hence, the Administration’s readiness for direct engagement with Tehran as part of the international effort to convince Iran’s leadership to meet its responsibilities. Hence, the Administration using dialogue with Syria to encourage its leaders to cooperate with the IAEA. Hence, the Administration’s commitment to the Six-Party process to pursue the denuclearization of the North Korea.
The new Administration also recognizes that NPT obligations encompass disarmament as well as nonproliferation. President Obama supports the goal of working toward a world without nuclear weapons. His Administration intends to renew America’s commitment to disarmament, including dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material and a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material.
President Obama believes that the best way to reduce global threats and seize global opportunities is to design and implement global solutions. The new administration looks forward to a close working relationship with the IAEA, its Secretariat, and its Member States to advance our common objective of promoting the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear technology.