The Annual Report for 2012
The United States welcomes the IAEA’s draft Annual Report for 2012 contained in document GOV/2013/18 and its annex. The Report provides detailed and balanced summary of important work that the Agency performed during the past year. We wish to highlight a few points.
On the peaceful application of nuclear technology, the Report points out that, the Agency continued to provide assistance to Member States that have taken a decision to start a nuclear power program by increasing the availability of nuclear training in support of capacity building and by fostering improvements in nuclear education to address workforce demands. We appreciate these important Agency efforts, and recently committed over $2 million through the Peaceful Uses Initiative to support IAEA programs in these areas. We note that the Report cites several examples of the contributions of the Peaceful Uses Initiative to the peaceful application of nuclear technology, and we welcome the partnership of those that have contributed to these worthwhile projects.
The Report highlights the application of nuclear technology in other important areas as well, including the Agency’s efforts to respond to the growing threat of ocean acidification, to facilitate training on food safety, and to support the sustainable management of shared groundwater resources. Each of these areas also has benefited from support from the Peaceful Uses Initiative.
We strongly support the Agency’s work in promoting food security and safety, which was Director General Amano’s focus for peaceful uses in 2012. We encourage Member States to work together to support the Director General’s 2013 focus on the environment.
Regarding the technical cooperation program, the Report indicates further efforts to improve the management of technical cooperation projects that will be put into practice in 2013. We view this as important to promoting greater program effectiveness and sustainability. We are pleased to maintain consistently strong support for the Technical Cooperation Fund and a broad commitment to cooperation in peaceful uses as reflected in our extra-budgetary contributions.
Concerning the nuclear fuel cycle, the Report observes that the search for long-term sustainability in the nuclear fuel cycle is a major trend in nuclear energy research. We are pleased that the Agency is working to address issues in this area, such as the efficient utilization of resources, the management of radioactive waste, and proliferation resistance. We are also pleased that the Agency has continued to support efforts to minimize the use of HEU in civilian applications, and we welcome its role in actions taken by Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan in 2012. These efforts promote nuclear security by reducing the amount of sensitive nuclear materials that terrorists could seek to obtain.
In the area of nuclear safety, the Report summarizes continued progress made in 2012 by the international community. The Agency supported Member States in enhancing the operational safety of existing nuclear power plants, including safely and efficiently extending the operational life of many of them. We commend the Agency for convening International Expert Meetings that have helped to integrate the post-Fukushima lessons learned for nuclear safety. We also commend the Agency for its co-hosting with Japan of the 2012 Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, and for its overall work in 2012 to support incident and emergency preparedness.
Regarding nuclear security, the Report notes the Agency’s efforts to assist Member States in developing requisite nuclear security infrastructure, including cyber security, and nuclear forensics. We applaud the Agency for its participation in a number of different fora that encourage Member States to improve nuclear security and emphasize the need for international cooperation, such as the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. Against this backdrop, we look forward to the Agency hosting the International Conference on Nuclear Security in Vienna at the ministerial level in 2013. To assist Agency efforts to provide equipment and expert services to Member States, we urge States to make extra-budgetary funding and in-kind contributions to the Nuclear Security Fund. Such support remains critical.
The Report also provides a useful summary of the Agency’s current ability to draw safeguards conclusions. We commend the Agency for its updated Plan of Action to Promote the Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols in 2012, and for holding 2012 outreach events in support of the plan. We welcome that one Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and five Additional Protocols were brought into force in 2012. We encourage the Agency to continue to be proactive in its outreach to build awareness of the importance of these agreements and to ensure that all States receive the support they need to adopt and implement the highest standards of safeguards. We also commend the Agency’s long-term planning in safeguards, which sets forth the capabilities that the Agency will require over the next decade. Other programs of the Agency would doubtless benefit from similar long-term planning efforts.
The United States thanks the Agency for its useful 2012 Annual Report and joins other Board Members in recommending that it be submitted to the General Conference. We reiterate our abiding commitment to our ongoing cooperation across IAEA activities and to our continued support for all areas of the Agency’s mandate. We look forward to a 2013 Annual Report describing the Agency’s ongoing efforts to prioritize tasks, maximize efficiency, and increase value for Member States.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.