Nuclear Waste

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, starting September 13, 2010

Agenda Item 4
Measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety

U.S. Statement

Ambassador Glyn Davies

Mr. Chairman,

I am pleased to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the IAEA and its safety mandate. We will continue to cooperate with other Member States to strengthen the Agency’s capabilities.

In this regard, I would like to highlight that this year, as in past years, the United States has contributed $2.4 million in extra-budgetary funding to support safety activities. We believe that the Agency will face increasing demands in the coming years when it will be asked to provide continued support to Member States with existing reactors in addition to those who plan to start nuclear power programs.

Of course, nuclear power is not the only area that requires vigilance; the safety of radioactive materials is also important. As we see from the theme of the Scientific Forum to be held next week, Director General Amano is making it a priority to highlight the benefits of medical uses of radioactive material. The U.S. actively supports many of the IAEA’s projects in this area, and also stresses the importance of ensuring the safety of involved personnel and patients and the security of the radioactive materials used in these procedures.

The IAEA reports that 99 states have made the political commitment to implement the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. Fifty-eight states have notified the Director General of their intention to act in a harmonized manner in accordance with the guidance on the import and export of radioactive sources; we would encourage more member states to do so. The importance of regaining control over orphan sources is underscored by the Agency’s initiatives, which include a draft safety guide and the ongoing orphan source search and secure project

Mr. Chairman,

The United States believes that it is essential that all countries, whether new or experienced in nuclear power, maintain high levels of safety. The maintenance of high standards requires a strong regulator and the commitment to safety by the operators. IAEA programs provide the tools that Member States need to build and maintain these programs.

Nuclear safety is a never ending quest for improvement, and one of the more prominent IAEA efforts that help countries achieve higher levels of safety is the Agency’s peer review services, which allow a Member State to take advantage of the expertise and lessons learned of other Member States. The United States is pleased to be hosting next month an Integrated Regulatory Review Service with our safety regulator. We look forward to the conclusions of that mission and any recommendations on ways to improve our program. The U.S. nuclear industry has also hosted several Operational Safety Review Team missions in the past several years. Our plant operators have found these reviews to be helpful, and the U.S. will continue to host these types of missions in the future. We strongly encourage other Member States to take full advantage of these services. These Agency activities are invaluable, but are useful only if they are fully utilized by Member States.

On that note, we want to strongly encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to request the services of the IAEA to perform a pre-Operational Safety Review Team mission. It is vital for Iran to meet the international safety norms at its Bushehr nuclear power plant, as well as in its operation of the Tehran research reactor. We also call upon Iran to join the Convention on Nuclear Safety. We would observe that Iran is the only Member State with near term plans to begin operation of a nuclear power plant that is not party to that convention.

In like manner, we encourage all Member States to join and participate fully in the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

Regarding the Director General’s report on measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety, we want to note several points. We are encouraged by the growth of regional organizations to promote safety, such as the forum of nuclear regulatory bodies in Africa and the Arab network of nuclear regulators. We look forward to their success and further participation in iaea activities.

Along with having a strong commitment to nuclear safety and security, we believe the international community, and especially those States promoting the expanded use of nuclear power, should take responsibility for assuring prompt and equitable compensation in the event of a nuclear incident. We note that the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage was adopted under the auspices of the Agency for this purpose, and we commend the efforts of the Agency to promote awareness and adherence to the CSC. We encourage Member States to join the CSC and adopt national laws consistent with the principles set forth in the CSC and other relevant international instruments.

With these observations, Mr. Chairman, my delegation takes note of the Director General’s report contained in GOV/2010/41, and concurs with its submission to the General Conference. We also join consensus establishing the Draft Safety Requirements as an Agency safety standard and authorizing the Director General to issue them as a publication in the IAEA Safety Standards Series.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.