IAEA Budget

Introductory Remarks to the Program and Budget Committee

April 27, 2009 U.S. Statement

Ambassador Gregory L Schulte

On April 5, in Prague, President Obama challenged all of us to seek a world without nuclear weapons.

President Obama identified three areas of effort to put us on that trajectory:

  • First, he committed the United States to take concrete steps, including negotiating a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, pursuing U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and seeking a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons.
  • Second, he called on all of us together to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The basic bargain, he said, is still sound.
  • Third, he called on us to ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. That is, he said, the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.

Since the President’s speech, I have consulted closely with colleagues here in Vienna. I have heard broad support for the President’s bold vision and the steps necessary to achieve it.

The President called for a number of steps that involve this Agency. He called to harness the power of nuclear energy on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change. He called for a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank, so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation. He called for more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections. He called for new and more rigorous approach to address the threat of countries that break the rules. And he called for a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has a key role to play in each of these areas. The day after the President’s speech in Prague, our Deputy Secretary of State told the Carnegie conference in Washington that the Agency “should receive the increased resources it needs to carry out its rapidly growing responsibilities.”

Madame Chair, my delegation will present more detailed input to the Committee during the course of its meeting. I wish only to make one basic point: The United States supports a meaningful real increase to the regular budget of the IAEA.

Prior to this meeting, some delegations suggested that the Secretariat start over, that it should present us a budget based on zero real growth, or even less. Let us not take this approach. President Obama has challenged us to work toward a world without nuclear weapons. This is not the time for business as usual.

We look forward to a constructive discussion. We will lay out our priorities and look forward to hearing those of other member states. Even if we do not come to firm conclusions this week, I challenge the Committee to reach consensus on one basic point: That in light of growing challenges and opportunities, the Agency requires a meaningful increase in its regular budget.

Madame Chair, the Obama Administration is committed to strengthening the IAEA and ensuring the Agency has the authority and resources it needs to do its job.