Ambassador Davies Travel to South East Asia

I recently made a working trip to Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia.  I had been looking forward to this trip for some time.  Since I became Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy AgencyAEA a year and a half ago, I have wanted to visit IAEA Technical Cooperation projects, and this trip gave me the chance to do so.  My daily routine in Vienna consists primarily of meetings and negotiations with other diplomats on nuclear non-proliferation, the peaceful uses of atomic energy, arms control, and fighting organized crime and drug trafficking.  Seldom do I get a chance to meet with practitioners in the field, the experts who are doing the front-line work to execute these programsbetter people’s lives using cutting-edge technologies.  During my trip to Southeast Asia, I was able to witness first-hand how the IAEA, through its Technical Cooperation Program, is working with nations to overcome significant problems, in areas ranging from health to agriculture to water resource management to electricity.

The United States is a strong supporter of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Program.  Since the IAEA was founded, the United States has been the largest donor to the Technical Cooperation Program, helping more than 100 countries use nuclear technology to tackle development challenges.  In addition to our support for the Technical Cooperation Program, the United States recently made a significant effort to energize the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  At the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, Secretary Clinton announced that the U.S. will contribute $50 million over five years for a new IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative, and she challenged other states collectively to match our funding.  The U.S. contribution will be applied to IAEA projects supporting nuclear power infrastructure development, food security, water resources management, and human health in a broad selection of countries.  This year the United States has contributed nearly ten million dollars towards our 50 million-dollar pledge.  Our commitment to this initiative reflects our belief that peaceful nuclear assistance, including that provided by the TC program, is an essential element of a healthy global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia are strong supporters of and participants in the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Program.  They are also among the first countries to benefit from the Peaceful Uses Initiative.  In all three countries I met with dynamic and energized government officials and nuclear experts who are working hard to bring the benefits of the peaceful applications of nuclear technology to their populations.

In Singapore I visited Singapore General Hospital and the National Cancer Center to see how the IAEA is supporting Singapore’s efforts to use nuclear technology to diagnose and treat cancer.  Singapore is also participating in a number of IAEA Technical Cooperation projects to benefit its people and others, including projects on the sterilization of the tsetse fly, improving the quality of nuclear medicine services, monitoring maritime pollution, and strengthening the planning and development of nuclear power programs.

In Vietnam travelled to I visited both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.  I was able to visit the Ho Chi Minh City Nuclear Center, doctors at the Nuclear Medicine Facility at Cho Ray Hospital, and the IAEA Program of Action for Cancer Therapy Model Demonstration Site in Hanoi.  Through the IAEA, Vietnam has been working to upgrade its nuclear medicine services, train medical physicists, and develop a comprehensive national cancer control strategy.  It has been working to identify and eliminate agricultural pests and strengthen nuclear analytic techniques to study food contaminants.

In Indonesia I had the chance to visit the country’s largest nuclear research reactor.  The Indonesian Nuclear Energy Agency is working to breed high yield rice that will resist pests and diseases and improve crop productivity, to improve the capacity of medical physicists to diagnose and treat patients, to curb hepatitis and tuberculosis by developing radioisotopic molecular diagnoses techniques, and to monitor the level of pollution in marine environments.

I am grateful for the generous welcome I received in Southeast Asia.  Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the United States have proven to have shared goals for the peaceful applications of nuclear energy.  We have been able to undertake constructive and important cooperation through the IAEA to tackle significant public problems, from health to agriculture to water resource management to energy.  Our mutual support for the peaceful applications of nuclear energy resonates far beyond diplomatic hallways in Vienna.  These peaceful uses have provided and will continue to provide real solutions for the needs of real people, winning fast friends for the United States, and improving the quality of life for us all.

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