A World Without Nuclear Weapons: Transforming the President’s Vision in Prague to a New Spirit of Vienna
IAEA Board of Governors Meeting June 15, 2009
Agenda Item 2 – The Annual Report for 2008
Final Statement to the IAEA Board
Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte
U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA
We have before us the IAEA’s Annual Report. It tells us of an Agency that is important to each Member State. It tells us of an Agency that is relevant to the challenges of today and tomorrow.
It tells us of an Agency that deserves our full support.
A World Without Nuclear Weapons
Two months ago, President Obama spoke in Prague about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
He said that “the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.” He noted that today, “the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.”
More nations have acquired those weapons. Testing has continued. Black market trade in nuclear secrets and materials remains a threat. The technology to build the bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one.
Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered in a global non-proliferation regime, but as more and more people and nations break the rules, we could reach the point, as the President said, “when the center cannot hold.”
President Obama reminded us that this matters to all people, everywhere. “One nuclear weapon exploded in one city — be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague — could kill hundreds of thousands of people. And no matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences would be — for our global safety, security, economy, and ultimately our survival.”
President Obama said that “the United States, as a nuclear power and as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, has a moral responsibility to act.” Thus, in Prague, President Obama committed the United States “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Steps Toward a Nuclear Weapon-Free World
The President set out a three-point agenda to advance this bold vision.
First, he committed the United States to take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons:
- reducing their role in our national security strategy and urging others to do the same;
- negotiating a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia this year;
- immediately and aggressively pursuing U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;
- seeking a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
Second, the President committed to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a basis for cooperation.
He said that “The basic bargain is sound: Countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy.” To strengthen the Treaty, he called for “more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections.”
He called for “real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the Treaty without cause.” 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 also said that “rules must be binding” and called for meeting the immediate challenges posed by North Korea and Iran.
Third, the President called for action to ensure terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon.
This is, he argued, “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.” The President announced a new international effort to “secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.” He called for building on our efforts to “break up black markets, detect and intercept materials in transit, and use financial tools to disrupt this dangerous trade.”
He called for turning efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism into “durable international institutions.” And he announced that the United States will host a Nuclear Security Summit within the next year.
From Prague to Vienna
The President’s speech in Prague gives us much to do in Vienna, at both the CTBTO and the IAEA. What does this mean for this Board’s agenda?
First, we need to ensure that the IAEA has the increased resources necessary to play its essential role in the global nonproliferation regime.
We support a significant increase in the IAEA’s regular budget so that the Agency can effectively implement its broad agenda. In addition, the United States is increasing substantially its voluntary contribution for 2009, and, if our Congress agrees, we intend to continue doing so over the coming years. More resources are needed for safety, security, and safeguards, particularly as more and more countries express interest in nuclear power. But we know and accept that other Member States have other priorities. We are ready to support a budget that addresses the priorities of all Member States.
President Obama has called for a “world without nuclear weapons.” World leaders agree with this vision. But this vision requires a strong IAEA. We know this is a time of financial crisis but it is not a time for business as usual. I call on all Member States to support our Chairwoman and Vice Chairman in coming to agreement on a significant real increase in the IAEA budget.
Second, the Agency needs not only more resources but also more authority to strengthen international inspections.
We all know that the Agency does a good job of accounting for declared activities. But recent proliferation challenges, such as Iran and Syria, have involved undeclared activities. As we strive for a world without nuclear weapons, the Agency’s ability to detect and deter undeclared activities will become even more important. The Obama Administration strongly supports Dr. ElBaradei’s call to universalize the IAEA’s Additional Protocol as part of a new international standard for verification.
Not only does the AP assist the IAEA in looking for undeclared activities, it is also an important confidence-building measure as more and more countries develop nuclear power. Countries committed to disarmament and to the peaceful use of nuclear technology should also be committed to the AP. Authority must be backed by will, a willingness by Member State to cooperate and a willingness by the Secretariat to use its authorities. In the case of States obstructing investigations, the Agency must be willing to exert the full authorities provided by its Statute, its Safeguards Agreements, and in special cases the Security Council.
Third, the Agency must continue its investigation of Iran and Syria and be prepared to support, as required, the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Recently in Cairo, President Obama spoke about the Islamic Republic of Iran and our desire to overcome decades of mistrust between our two countries. When it comes to the nuclear issue, the President said that “we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. He said, ït is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead that region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.”
President Obama recalled that “any nation — including Iran — should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty…”
Our task here in Vienna is to support the inspectors as they verify that commitment and as they verify the additional confidence building measures required by the Board and made mandatory by the Security Council. We must encourage Iran to cooperate fully with the inspectors and to take the steps necessary to assure the world that its activities do not have a military dimension.
Fourth, the IAEA has an important role to play in building a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation.
Fuel assurances constitute a first step toward this new framework. The United States supports establishment of an international nuclear fuel bank and also welcomes the nuclear fuel reserve proposed by the Russian Federation. Fuel assurances support countries interested in nuclear power while strengthening the global nonproliferation regime that is so essential to reach a world without nuclear weapons. Fuel assurances serve multiple goals: energy development, nuclear disarmament, as well as reducing reasons for the spread of bomb-making technologies. As President Obama said in Prague, “no approach will succeed if it is based on the denial of rights to nations that play by the rules.”
The two concrete concepts that we will first consider this week neither deny nor jeopardize any NPT rights. Rather, the fuel bank and fuel reserve will help enlarge peaceful nuclear uses as envisioned by the Agency’s Statute. Without cost to rights or the Regular Budget, these concepts will benefit Member States that want fuel assurances to support their plans and programs for nuclear power.
Fifth, the IAEA has an important role to play in President Obama’s call to ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon.
Nuclear security, like nuclear safety, is the responsibility of Member States. But like with nuclear safety, the IAEA can play a key role under its Statute as part of broader international efforts to improve nuclear security and implement Resolution 1540 of the UN Security Council. Central to the IAEA’s role is helping to establish a global security culture and high standards for the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities. It can do so by helping to set these standards and by assisting Member States in reaching and sustaining them. Some occasionally dismiss nuclear security as a special interest of a few countries. But, as President Obama warned us in Prague, terrorist use of a nuclear weapon anywhere in the world would have terrible consequences everywhere in the world. Moreover, countries across the world recognize the importance of nuclear security.
Ninety four countries aligned with the G77 have benefited from IAEA nuclear security assistance. Over 65 G77 countries were represented at the IAEA’s recent Nuclear Security Symposium. Seventy-five percent of the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund activities go to G77 countries.
The IAEA’s nuclear security efforts are of interest to all and of benefit to all. As President Obama said in Prague, “one terrorist with a nuclear weapon could unleash massive destruction. To protect our people, he said, “we must act with a sense of purpose and we must act without delay.” When President Obama hosts the Summit on Nuclear Security, we will all want to tell our leaders that the IAEA is doing its part.
A New Spirit of Vienna
At his speech in Prague, President Obama presented a bold vision and a broad agenda. He said that the United States can lead, but that we cannot succeed in this endeavor alone. We need the support of each country in this Board room.
I believe that we need a new “Spirit of Vienna”:
- a spirit of consensus founded on a common appreciation for this Agency, its important technical mission, and its essential role in implementing the NPT;
- a mutual agreement that the NPT’s basic bargain remains sound but that the Treaty needs to be strengthened to meet today’s challenges;
- a shared readiness to give the IAEA the resources, authority, and support that it requires.
Yes, this “new Spirit of Vienna” must encompass action and not just words.
As the President said recently in Cairo, it will be action and not words that determine the path of progress. All of our countries share common interests:
- in promoting development, securing our energy supplies, and protecting our environment,
- in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and avoiding new nuclear arms races,
- and in seeking a world without nuclear weapons.
Let’s resolve to establish a new Spirit of Vienna to advance those interests and the bold vision set out in Prague.
I was honored four years ago to be appointed by President Bush to serve as the U.S. Governor to the IAEA. I was honored six months ago to be asked by President Obama to remain through today’s meeting. This is my eighteenth and last meeting of the IAEA Board. It has been a privilege and responsibility to have sat on the Board of an organization so vital to our common peace and security.
It has also been a pleasure and honor to serve alongside everyone in this room. I thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and I thank all here today for your support and commitment.
And, I leave you with a challenge:
That your future work be animated by a bold vision, a broad agenda, and a new Spirit of Vienna.