IAEA Board of Governors, Agenda Item 4, Strengthening of the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Activities, Robert Wood, Chargé d’Affaires

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting

June 4-8, 2012

Agenda Item 4

Strengthening of the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Activities

U.S. Statement

Robert Wood

Chargé d’Affaires

U.S. Mission to the IAEA 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My delegation thanks the Secretariat for its preparation of the 2011 Technical Cooperation (TC) Annual Report.  This comprehensive and detailed description of the Technical Cooperation Program is helpful as the Board considers this work and ways in which it can be strengthened.

The United States continues to strongly support the Technical Cooperation Program.  The Program is essential to the IAEA’s important function of broadening access to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including those related to both nuclear power and the non-power nuclear applications in health, water management, the environment, and food security.

We note the Secretariat’s assurance that full compliance with safety standards, safeguards, and security guidelines is integrated into all TC projects.  Meeting all of these standards facilitates a State’s full enjoyment of the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy.  Technical assistance provided by the IAEA must also continue to meet the criteria specified in relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the Board of Governors.

Mr. Chairman, in 2010 the NPT Review Conference encouraged states to contribute to an initiative to raise $100 million over five years for the IAEA’s activities to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  This came in response to a challenge to the international community by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to match a U.S. pledge of $50 million for this purpose.  Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, and France have since made their own contributions under this Peaceful Uses Initiative, the PUI.  The TC Report reflects the large number of Member States that have contributed towards the goal of enhanced support for the Agency’s work in this area through providing funds, hosting fellowships, and supporting training courses.

These collective efforts demonstrate concretely that support for the IAEA’s efforts on peaceful uses is widespread, and the United States welcomes all of these partners in our shared commitment to support these programs.  The impact of this type of support is evident in the report we have before us.

While this extra-budgetary support is welcome and important, I note that it is no replacement for the responsibility of all Member States to pay their share of the Technical Cooperation Fund.  We urge all Member States that have not yet made these contributions to do so.  Similarly, we encourage Member States to pay their National Participation Costs.  As in all aspects of the IAEA’s work, the TC Department cannot fulfill its role without sufficient and stable resources.

Mr. Chairman,

The Secretariat’s report makes clear the unique and important role of nuclear technology in realizing the Millennium Development Goals, and the particular relevance of the Technical Cooperation Program to developing States.  We welcome the Secretariat’s efforts to improve coordination and build partnerships within the United Nations system and to raise awareness of the IAEA’s role in development.

The unique role of nuclear techniques in addressing development challenges is clear in efforts to ensure access to safe water for human consumption, agriculture, and industry.  The United States commends the Director General for selecting water resource management as a key focus area for 2011.  My delegation appreciates the impact of TC projects in exploring and helping to manage underground water resources through the application of isotopic techniques.  We commend the achievement this year of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water.

Mr. Chairman,

We have been asked to consider a new Technical Cooperation project entitled “Integrated and Sustainable Management of Shared Aquifer Systems and Basins of the Sahel Region.”  The Secretariat has made clear the case for the urgency of this work in addressing a lack of water for drinking and for agriculture in the face of persistent drought.   Indeed, we note with concern that 40% of all people who lack access to safe water live in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe this urgent humanitarian need requires the rapid deployment of additional, extra-budgetary resources.  The IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative was created in part for the purpose of making resources available for cases just like this one.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States fully supports the goals of this project, and welcomes the financial contributions of the Governments of Japan and Sweden.  I am pleased to announce the United States today is formally extending to the IAEA an offer of $250,000 of U.S. funds under the Peaceful Uses Initiative to begin this important project’s work without delay.  We welcome discussion with other Member States to ensure that the project is fully supported, and we encourage other states to make their own contributions under the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative.

While the United States encourages all States to join the IAEA as Members so that they can fully participate in its activities, due to the humanitarian urgency in the Sahel region we welcome the participation of non-Member States in this project.  IAEA practices and the Peaceful Uses Initiative provide the flexibility to allow their participation.

Mr. Chairman,

A well-managed and efficient TC Program is one that can effectively utilize existing resources to meet Member State needs.  We welcome improved coordination between the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the Department of Technical Cooperation, and we applaud the high implementation rate of recommendations arising from evaluations of TC programs.  Such efforts improve the efficiency and effectiveness of TC projects.  In particular, my delegation encourages continued efforts to help National Liaison Officers fulfill their responsibilities as effectively as possible.

In this regard, we applaud the Agency’s efforts in designing the 2012-2013 TC Program in line with quality criteria and a result-based approach, including intensive training for Agency and Member State staff.  We also welcome movement towards “bigger and better” projects, with the goal of achieving larger, more sustainable benefits and improving efficiency.

All Member States have a responsibility to work towards effective, efficient, and transparent implementation of the TC Program.  Central to these efforts are the Country Program Frameworks, which establish priority development needs and interests within national TC programs.  Similarly, Revised Supplementary Agreements, which govern the provision of TC, are required for participation in the TC Program.  We commend the Agency’s effort that led to 16 new CPFs signed in 2011, and welcome the fact that 119 states now have Revised Supplementary Agreements in place.  We encourage further efforts from those Member States that have not yet agreed to a Country Program Framework or concluded a Revised Supplementary Agreement to do so urgently.

The United States also welcomes the IAEA’s efforts to promote gender equality throughout the TC Program.  At the same time, we note with concern that the average female participation in TC projects remains below 30%, with several regions falling short of even this low level.  We encourage the Secretariat to continue its efforts to ensure gender balance, consulting with regional agreements and groupings where appropriate, and we urge all Member States to work with the Secretariat to increase the number of women participating in Technical Cooperation.

With these comments, Mr. Chairman, my delegation takes note of the Technical Cooperation Report for 2011and requests that it be transmitted to the General Conference.  We welcome the proposed project on shared water systems in the Sahel region and urge its inclusion in the Agency’s 2012-2013 TC Program as a footnote-a project.  Finally, we welcome the participation of non-Member States in this project, in accordance with existing Board guidance.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.