Nuclear Fuel Assurances

Agenda Item 9 Any Other Business – Assurance of Fuel Supply

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

Madam Chairman,

As Members of this Board well know, President Obama has 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.”  “No approach,” the President added, “will succeed if it’s based on the denial of rights to nations that play by the rules.”

The United States firmly believes that nuclear power will play an important role in dealing with the challenge of climate change while simultaneously meeting the growing demand for energy worldwide.  The establishment of a multilateral fuel assurance mechanism would strengthen the expansion of peaceful nuclear energy for these purposes in ways that promote our non-proliferation goals. .  The current international market for nuclear fuel is functioning well.  Nevertheless, a backup mechanism could provide states with additional confidence that their access to fuel will continue to be reliable, and that they would not need to invest in the development of costly and complex fuel cycle technologies.

At the last meeting of the Board in June, the Secretariat presented two papers, a “Proposal by the Director General for the Establishment of an IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank” and a “Russian Federation Initiative to Establish a Reserve of Low Enriched Uranium for the Supply of LEU to the IAEA for its Member States.”  While the Board did not take a decision on either proposal, we believe it was very encouraging that Member States engaged in a substantive and constructive discussion on practical implementation issues associated with each proposal.  We believe that outstanding concerns can be resolved, and to that end we would have welcomed further contributions to the discussion from the Secretariat or Member States in the form of written commentary on the points raised in June.  We do take note of the paper circulated by the delegation of the United Kingdom and thank our British colleagues for the briefing of September 8 on teh UK multinational fuel assurance concept.

The United States strongly encourages all Member States to bring forward for discussion today and in the weeks ahead their lingering uncertainties and concerns about the implementation of either of these proposals, and to suggest solutions to those concerns.  This feedback would form a useful basis upon which Russia and the Secretariat could refine their proposals so that they are acceptable to all.  We are broadly supportive of Russia’s LEU reserve proposal and hope that detailed agreement texts can be brought before the Board for approval in November.  We are prepared to work with Board members and all other concerned states to ensure this target is met.

We also urge the Board and the IAEA Secretariat to push forward with the IAEA LEU fuel bank proposal.  The concerns that have been expressed to date are legitimate, and in our view can be addressed through continued dialogue and work.  Indeed, only through open and candid dialogue will we be able to identify – and overcome – the remaining obstacles that separate us from the earliest possible establishment of an important element of new frameworks of civil nuclear cooperation that serve the energy and non-proliferation goals of this organization and the world community.