IAEA Board of Governors, Agenda Item 3, Annual Report, Statement by Deputy Chief of Mission Sharon White

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
June 4-8, 2012

Agenda Item 3

The Annual Report for 2011

U.S. Statement

Sharon White, Deputy Chief of Mission

U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna

Mr. Chairman,

The United States welcomes the Annual Report of Agency activities in 2011.  The 2011 Annual Report contained in document “GOV/2012/19” lays out in detail the great diversity of important work performed by the IAEA over the past year in carrying out its objective of accelerating and enlarging the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world.  We appreciate the detailed information contained in the Annexes to the Annual Report, which are a useful reference.  This report clearly points out the ways in which all IAEA Major Programs contribute to the well-being of Member States.

In carrying out its mandates, the Agency has advised and assisted its Member States in applying nuclear technologies for development, in promoting nuclear safety and security, and in implementing nuclear safeguards obligations.   The United States welcomes and applauds these activities.  As the Agency’s safeguards and technical cooperation programs are the subject of separate agenda items, in this statement I would like to highlight a few of the Agency’s other activities.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the most significant global events in 2011 was the natural disaster in Japan and the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.  We commend the IAEA for its role following the accident.  Coordinating its efforts with the WHO, CTBTO, and FAO, the Agency sent radiological monitoring teams and other experts for consultation on various technical and safety issues, and analyzed numerous environmental samples sent back to Seibersdorf in order to better understand the impacts on nuclear power plant operational safety and on the land and marine environments.

As part of its essential, ongoing work of assisting Member States with developing nuclear power in ways that meet the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation, in response to the Fukushima accident the Agency sponsored research on seismicity and fuel cladding cracking, identified ways to improve the Response and Assistance Network, improved its external events notification abilities, and developed the Nuclear Safety Action Plan, which was endorsed by the Member States at the General Conference.  The Agency also convened meetings to review nuclear safety in order to identify technical and operational gaps and to strengthen the services the Agency provides to Member States.  These are only a fraction of the Agency’s actions described in the 2011 Annual Report in response to the Fukushima disaster.

The tragedy at Fukushima made the world reassess nuclear power, but it has not halted its expansion.  While some nations took steps towards shutting down nuclear power plants and are considering removing nuclear energy from their energy portfolios, there are still 64 nuclear power plants currently under construction worldwide, including in the United States.  The IAEA’s estimated global nuclear power capacity projected for 2030 is 7% less than projections made before the accident, but the IAEA’s low projection still suggests an increase of about 1/3 over today’s capacity and an addition of 90 new operational reactors by 2030.

The importance of a sound infrastructure to the responsible development of nuclear power has never been more apparent, and the need for highly skilled human resources to build that infrastructure never more clear.  The Agency’s activities in infrastructure and human resource development, such as development of guidance, conduct of training courses and workshops, and application of modeling tools are all highly valued.

As more Member States seek the important services offered by the IAEA for nuclear power or other peaceful uses of nuclear and radioactive materials, the resources and capacities of the Agency are being tested by the increased demand.  We reiterate the commitment of the United States to ensure the Agency is adequately resourced to fulfill its broad mandates, now and in the future.  In this regard, we note the steps taken by the IAEA to continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of safeguards through its implementation of the State-level concept and strengthened analytical capacity and independence by completion of the Clean Laboratory Extension and construction of a replacement Nuclear Materials Laboratory.

We also welcome the progress highlighted in the Annual Report on establishing assurance of supply in the event exceptional circumstances prevent a state from obtaining fuel from the commercial market.  To this end we welcome the conclusion of an agreement between the Russian Federation and the Agency that established a low enriched uranium (LEU) reserve in Angarsk; the Board’s approval of a ‘Nuclear Fuel Assurance’ mechanism to complement the established LEU reserves; efforts to identify a host site for the IAEA LEU Bank, as offered by Kazakhstan; and the Agency’s receipt of the pledged voluntary contributions to the LEU fuel bank.  On a related note, the United States has established the American Assured Fuel Supply, which is comprised of over 17 metric tons of surplus highly enriched uranium downblended to reactor-grade enriched uranium to serve as a backup source of low-enriched uranium for the civil nuclear market.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning to the non-power aspects of the Agency’s work, the Technical Cooperation and Nuclear Application Programs assisted over 120 Member States in 2011.  This achievement attests to the fact that Member States can request the expertise of the IAEA in applying nuclear techniques to food, agriculture, water resource management, health, energy, industry, and research, all of which are important contributors to broader socioeconomic development.  A triumph of 2011 was the announcement of the eradication of Rinderpest, a viral disease affecting cattle, yak, and other livestock.  The culmination of this 25-year effort truly displays the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
The report acknowledges contributions made by many Member States to the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI).  To date, the United States has supported nearly $20 million in PUI activities in more than 100 Member States, in addition to our continued support for the Technical Cooperation Fund.  Under the PUI, the United States has contributed over $1 million to support, among other significant activities, assessment missions under the Agency’s Program of Action on Cancer Therapy, which characterizes and makes recommendations for improving national capacities for combating cancer in Member States.  U.S. contributions to the PUI also help fund the IAEA’s important work to support Member State needs in water resource management, DG Amano’s focus for 2011, through such activities as the IAEA Water Availability Enhancement Project.
Mr. Chairman,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Massoud Samiei for his years of leadership and tireless service in mobilizing IAEA expertise to address the worldwide cancer epidemic.  His efforts have helped to bring comfort and hope to so many people around the globe.

Mr. Chairman,

Having recognized some of these highlights of the IAEA’s important work in 2011, the United States joins the recommendation that this report be submitted to the General Conference.  In doing so, we underscore our commitment to ongoing cooperation across Agency activities, and we look forward to a 2012 Annual Report that describes an IAEA that has been empowered further, one that is improving its efficiency while increasing its value for Member States.

With these comments, we would approve the Annual Report for 2011 and ask that it be transmitted to the General Conference.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.