Nuclear Safety

Agenda Item 3: Measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting September 7-11, 2009

U.S. Statement

Ambassador Glyn Davies

Permanent Representative of the United States to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Office in Vienna.

Madame Chairwoman,

I am honored to address you and my distinguished colleagues in the Board of Governors for the first time as U.S. Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Many in this room are aware of the priority my President  attaches to seeking multilateral solutions to global challenges.  As directed by the President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton my mission team and I are committed to working with other Member States and the Secretariat in that manner and in that spirit.

The agendas before the Board this week and in the coming General Conference are broad, and I should reaffirm in my first intervention as Governor that the United States of America supports the Agency in all facets of its work and is determined to cooperate with other Member States to strengthen Agency capabilities.

We, at the moment, have the safety report before us, and after this agenda item the security report and Nuclear Security Plan for the coming four years.  The Agency’s efforts to promote excellence in safety and security practices, indeed to cultivate the culture of safety and security among governments as well as operators and regulators of nuclear and radiological facilities, are fundamental to the peaceful use of relevant technologies and materials.  Expanding the peaceful use of nuclear technologies and techniques to promote human well-being and prosperity is a United States. priority for this Agency.  The U.S. continues to be largest supporter to Technical Cooperation through pledges, extra- budgetary contributions, and cost-free expertise.  TC projects promoting nuclear techniques in medicine, agriculture, and water management will help us move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Innovative projects such as studies on coastal ocean acidification may also help scientists understand global warming trends.    My government applauds that these projects are executed in a safe and secure manner and also that Member States avail themselves of technical cooperation with the specific aim to strengthen national and global safety and security frameworks .

Madame Chairwoman,

The United States welcomes the Director General’s draft Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2008.  As has been the case for similar annual Safety Reviews, this document provides a useful review of worldwide efforts to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety.  We appreciate the update by the Director General on Agency activities undertaken pursuant to General Conference resolutions on measures to strengthen international cooperation in these areas.

We note the continued focus of the Agency on the global nuclear safety regime.
The importance of this cannot be cannot be overstated, particularly with regard to Member States embarking on nuclear power programs.   A sound safety infrastructure is an essential prerequisite of any new program.  As with TC, the U.S. supports the IAEA safety program through significant contributions of extra-budgetary resources and cost-free experts.  The work done by the Secretariat and Member States in developing clearer and more practical guidance on the establishment and development of such an infrastructure has been of immense value to those Member States considering the establishment of a nuclear power program.

We congratulate the Agency on hosting the third Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.  The Joint Convention review process is a crucial mechanism for recognizing and disseminating best practices.  The United States encourages all nations planning or currently operating nuclear energy programs to ratify the entire range of nuclear safety instruments.

We stress the importance of the global nuclear liability regime, and remind Member States of the Director General’s recent exhortation “to give due consideration to adhering to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.”  Universal membership to the Convention will send a clear, confidence-building signal about responsible use of nuclear energy.  We also note that a viable and strong nuclear liability regime is a foundational underpinning of any proposal for the reliable access of nuclear fuel.

We must recognize that countries using nuclear power for the first time may comprise a significant portion of nuclear industry growth in the near future.  These countries must be supported and encouraged to develop strong safety infrastructures.  We want to stress that each nation developing a nuclear power program must have a strong independent regulator and this regulatory body must be established and functional early in the process.  Regulatory infrastructures should not be limited to nuclear power generation, but should also apply to the safety and security of all nuclear material used in the country.  We strongly encourage the Agency to continue to expand its capacity-building and review services.  Programs such as Operational Regulatory Review Team (OSART) missions and the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) are critical to ensuring safety standards compliance.

We feel that the successful implementation of safety and security regimes for radioactive sources will require an integrated approach.  To this end, we welcome the IAEA’s employment of a mobile hot cell to remove orphaned and unused high activity sources and process them locally.

We note the Agency’s development of the Uranium Production Site Appraisal Team (UPSAT) review missions.  This service can be expected to help Member States plan their mining programs in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

In the unlikely event of a radiological emergency, the Agency has developed the capacity to quickly marshal specialized response resources from around the world.  We note the coordination role of the IAEA Incident and Emergency Center (IEC) and encourage Member States to register their capabilities with the Response Assistance Network (RANET).

Finally, we note that this report is a useful tool for Member States for review of Agency activities undertaken during the past year and will be of assistance in the consideration of future activities.

With these observations, Madame Chairwoman, my delegation takes note of the Director General’s report on “Measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety,” GOV/2009/48, and concurs with its submission to the General Conference.

Thank you.