IAEA Board of Governors Meeting – Agenda Item 3 – Nuclear Security Review 2023
U.S. Statement as Delivered by Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate
Vienna, Austria, March 6, 2023
The United States strongly reaffirms the IAEA’s nuclear security mission and mandate and appreciates the Secretariat’s efforts to improve the 2023 Nuclear Security Review from its inaugural document in 2022. We thank the IAEA for being receptive to last year’s feedback, and for including greater transparency on the Nuclear Security Fund and details on the Agency’s priorities to meet Member States’ nuclear security requests. The United States appreciates the IAEA’s efforts on matters related to nuclear security for advanced reactors and small modular reactors.
This year’s Review highlights the indisputable fact that Member States increasingly call on the IAEA to help strengthen their nuclear security regimes. We should all do our part to adequately resource the IAEA to carry out its nuclear security mission that positively contributes to “atoms for peace and development.”
At the same time, the Agency is addressing one of the world’s most pressing nuclear security challenges that has unfortunately continued into another year – Russia’s unprovoked attacks on Ukraine and takeover of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. Russia continues to act in defiance of IAEA Board of Governors and UN resolutions, but most importantly is violating each of the principles outlined by the DG’s Seven Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security. Russia’s unlawful presence at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is the most significant nuclear security danger of our time. The United States joins those demanding that Russia restore this plant to its legitimate owner: Ukraine.
The United States welcomes the Agency’s preparations for the 2024 International Conference on Nuclear Security, starting with the first Program Committee Meeting held last week. We encourage Member States’ active participation in preparations for a successful conference, as well as to set national-level, concrete goals for the year ahead to announce at this ministerial-level conference.
We also hope Member States will find creative ways to inspire each other towards milestones and new initiatives that make measurable nuclear security progress globally. Practical and purposeful goals include becoming a party to both the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. All Member States are also encouraged to express a political commitment to the Code of Conduct for the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its two Supplementary Guidance documents. As the Code reaches its 20th anniversary this year, we wish to highlight that the Agency and Member States will commemorate this significant milestone at the end of May.
Member States need legal and regulatory frameworks in place, as well as corresponding policies and programs, to have a comprehensive and effective nuclear security regime. The United States has consistently prioritized preventing terrorists from obtaining and using weapons of mass destruction. Managing the risks and threats posed by WMD terrorism, whose impact sees no borders, requires that we work collectively to prevent malicious actors from ever acquiring these materials. I am pleased to announce that last week, the Biden-Harris Administration released the U.S. National Security Memorandum to Counter WMD Terrorism and Advancing Nuclear and Radioactive Material Security. Reducing, eliminating, and securing nuclear and other radioactive material are critical components of this strategy and demonstrate our continued commitment to preventing radiological and nuclear terrorism. Through the implementation of the policies and priorities detailed in the strategy – domestically, with international partners, and with the Agency – we will continue to advance those longstanding efforts. I hope to speak with many of you about this new strategy and encourage your countries to consider adopting analogous policies.
Developing states’ human resources is necessary to prevent nuclear terrorism and strengthen nuclear security. As this week marks International Women’s Day, let me emphasize that no field or profession should be out of reach to women – including nuclear security and the entire nuclear sector. Diverse teams and workforces are not only important in achieving the fifth UN Sustainable Development Goal but are essential if we are to have the necessary talent and resources to tackle complex nuclear security challenges before us.
Capacity building is the primary aim of the Agency’s Nuclear Security Training and Demonstration Centre at Seibersdorf. The Center is on the cusp of opening its doors this year. I am pleased to announce that an additional two million euros in U.S. contributions previously provided to the Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund will be used to support the Center, including 1.5 million euro toward the Agency’s procurement of necessary equipment for an integrated physical protection system at the Center, and the remainder for staffing and other training needs associated with the Center’s operations. This is in addition to in-kind equipment support that we have offered.
As we learned from the Agency at the most recent meeting of the Friends of the Center, more is needed, and so we continue to urge the Secretariat to engage with Member States to mobilize additional resources so the Center can open as planned. Further we call on the Secretariat to focus on the Center’s sustainability and fulfill the pledge that it will be complementary to and not duplicative of Member States’ Nuclear Security Support Centers. We also want to reiterate the call from Member States in the 2022 General Conference Nuclear Security Resolution for the Secretariat to reapply all Program Support Costs from extrabudgetary contributions to the Center directly to the project itself to help defray costs associated with its operation.
The Agency’s nuclear security work interfaces with not only nuclear safety but continues to be interconnected with, and supportive of, Member States’ peaceful uses of nuclear science, energy, and technology. With these remarks, the United States takes note of the 2023 Nuclear Security Review.