U.S. Statement by Mr. Richard J. Stratford
Office of Nuclear Energy Safety and Security
Department of State
United States of America
Cluster 3 Issues
First Session of the Preparatory Committee
2015 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
May 9, 2012
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Article IV of the NPT recognizes the right of Parties to develop the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and commits them to international cooperation to spread these benefits. Although the 2011 events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have affected public perceptions of the safety of nuclear power, the basic factors that led to an increased interest in nuclear power before that incident have not changed — increasing global demand for energy, as well as concerns about climate change, energy security, and uncertainty about fossil fuel supplies.
As President Obama reminded us all in his remarks at Seoul on March 26, we should never forget “the astonishing benefits that nuclear technology has brought to our lives … it’s the energy—the clean energy—that helps cut the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.” The United States continues to support the safe and secure expansion of nuclear power. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission relicensed nine existing U.S. nuclear reactors in 2011 and issued the first two licenses for new reactor construction in the United States in over 30 years.
Nuclear power presents a unique set of challenges, most notably challenges related to safety, security, and nonproliferation. Countries that use nuclear power or are considering its adoption must consider fully these challenges. Consistent with Article IV, the United States actively supports efforts to enable countries to develop responsible nuclear power programs by helping them to build the infrastructure needed to meet the highest levels of safety, security, and nonproliferation. We are pursuing this goal through both bilateral assistance and through multilateral means such as the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation and the numerous programs of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
We have also supported new, multilateral approaches to the fuel cycle, including the nuclear fuel reserve in Angarsk, Russia, the IAEA low enriched uranium bank, and the Model Nuclear Fuel Assurances Agreement approved by the IAEA Board in 2011. Fuel assurances encourage and support the expansion of peaceful nuclear energy without increasing the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism. We have also established the American Assured Fuel Supply, comprised of over 17 metric tons of surplus highly enriched uranium downblended to serve as a backup source of low-enriched uranium for the civil nuclear market.
These mechanisms respect the rights of all IAEA Member States who live up to their obligations, including those who wish to pursue civil nuclear power without the costly challenge of having to develop an enrichment capability. Our Assured Fuel Supply also demonstrates how disarmament progress has helped fuel the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by disposing of high-enriched uranium removed from military programs through peaceful use of this material.
Securing Fissile Material:
In April 2010 President Obama hosted in Washington a gathering of 50 global leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit, an integral part of the Administration’s strategy for leading a worldwide effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material. The leaders agreed on the seriousness of the threat of nuclear terrorism and on the necessity of working together to reduce this threat. The Summit highlighted the key role of the IAEA in supporting the efforts of its Member States in protecting their nuclear materials. Thirty-two countries made over 70 specific commitments to enhance nuclear security, many of which have been completed.
The second Nuclear Security Summit was held last March in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Seoul Summit participants agreed to a detailed communiqué that builds on the objectives and measures set out in the 2010 Washington communiqué. In Seoul, countries provided progress reports outlining their accomplishments since the Washington Summit. The next Nuclear Security Summit will be held in 2014 in the Netherlands.
These Summits reinforced the existing international legal architecture that governs nuclear security, including UN Security Council Resolution 1540. This resolution, adopted in 2004, is designed to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, or related materials, particularly to non-state actors. The resolution requires states to undertake a number of steps to strengthen their nonproliferation and chemical, biological, and nuclear security capabilities. In support of Resolution 1540, the United States voluntarily contributed $3 million to the UN Trust Fund for Global and Regional Disarmament to support global implementation activities. We see our own implementation of the Resolution as essential for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Also important is our role in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Currently, 85 countries and four official observers participate as partners in this Initiative, which aims to improve global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. Finally, the Group of Eight works to strengthen nuclear security through its Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, which was initiated at the 2002 G-8 Summit as a cooperative effort to prevent terrorists or states that support terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The Partnership is now evolving into a global initiative of 24 partners, with an agenda of global chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat reduction. At the 2011 G-8 Summit in Deauville, France, the leaders decided to extend the effort for another ten years. The United States plans to provide $10 billion for the Global Partnership from 2012 to 2022.
Through our vigorous support for the Nuclear Security Summits, Resolution 1540, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and the Global Partnership, the United States is facilitating concrete progress on the portion of the 2010 Action Plan that relates to the strongest possible regime for nuclear security.
Nuclear safety is another critical dimension of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and my delegation will address this subject during the third specific issue session.
Non-Power Peaceful Uses:
As President Obama reminded us in Seoul, the non-power applications of nuclear energy also offer widespread benefits. “Nuclear technology helps make our food safe, … prevents disease in the developing world … treats cancer and finds new cures.” Since 2010, the IAEA Director General Amano has reminded us of how broad nuclear applications are, focusing attention in 2010 on applications to cancer, in 2011 on water resource management, and this year on food security. The United States is proud of its long-standing record in supporting these programs, and commends the Director General’s efforts.
Indeed, the United States has long been the largest single contributor to IAEA peaceful uses programs in both power and non-power areas. Since the 2010 Review Conference, we have expanded this support significantly through our contributions to the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative. We commend those countries that have joined us in this effort to expand support for the IAEA, as called for by the 2010 NPT Final Document, namely Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Hungary, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic. We would like to welcome the support of Kazakhstan, just announced at this PrepCom last week, and the fact that New Zealand, as we understand it, has decided to offer its second contribution to the Peaceful Uses Initiative. We encourage all countries that are in a position to do so to help us further expand access to these important technologies and applications.
I am pleased to announce today that the United States has pledged this week nearly two million additional U.S. dollars for IAEA projects proposed under the Peaceful Uses Initiative. This brings total U.S. support under the Initiative to nearly $20 million since the 2010 Review Conference, which has funded efforts in human health, water resource management, food security, and nuclear power infrastructure.
Nearly 120 countries have participated in projects funded through these contributions, an important reminder that, just as we all have a role to play in strengthening the nonproliferation regime, we all benefit from a regime that helps us access the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy. My delegation has prepared a brief description of the U.S. contribution to the PUI, and PrepCom participants are welcome to a copy of this description.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, let me return to President Obama’s remarks at Seoul on March 26, where he noted the challenge of future generations to develop nuclear energy systems that unlock the promise of the atom without putting nations and terrorists within reach of nuclear weapons. These goals are inextricably linked. As the President said, “[When] we enhance security, we’re in a stronger position to harness safe, clean nuclear energy. When we develop new, safer approaches to nuclear energy, we reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and proliferation. When nations, including my own, fulfill our responsibilities, it strengthens our ability to ensure that other nations fulfill their responsibilities. And step by step, we come closer to the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.