IAEA Board of Governors Meeting – Agenda Item 15 – Any Other Business
U.S. statement as delivered by Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate
Vienna, Austria, June 10, 2022
We would like to first acknowledge Saint Kitts and Nevis and the country of Tonga as the newest IAEA Member States. We welcome you and look forward to working with you at the Agency.
The United States also looks forward to hosting IAEA Member States and others at the fifth International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, which will be held on October 26-28, 2022, in Washington, D.C. This event will occur at a defining moment when IAEA Member States are working together to unlock the full power and potential of safe, secure, reliable, and clean nuclear power around the globe. Nuclear power will play a pivotal role in providing emissions-free baseload power and paving the way for the continued integration of other clean power sources, such as wind and solar, into our electrical grids as we work together to achieve our emissions targets.
We continue to make steady progress preparing for the event, and we are working to support the Director General’s efforts to encourage ministerial-level attendance by IAEA Member States. The Secretariat and the U.S. Mission provided a briefing on the status of preparations to Member States this week, and we will continue to provide updated information through the conference’s dedicated website.
The United States strongly supports the continued cooperation between the IAEA and the Government of Japan to ensure that the decommissioning efforts of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant – including the expected treated water dispersal – meet the IAEA’s highest nuclear safety and security standards. The Government of Japan’s approach has been developed in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards and represents an exceedingly low and acceptable level of risk.
We continue to support the IAEA’s Task Force on Fukushima Treated Water. In 2021, the United States provided $550,000 to jumpstart this effort, and we expect to provide additional funding in 2022. The purpose of the Task Force that comprises independent, technical, and impartial experts from across the globe is to provide ongoing assurance that the basic requirements of IAEA’s Safety Standards are being met. The Task Force’s first two Missions started a process that will help to reassure people in Japan and elsewhere that Fukushima’s treated water will be dispersed safely and in accordance with international nuclear safety standards for protection of people and the environment.
We remain firm in our belief that the Government of Japan continues to be transparent with the international community about its efforts, providing detailed information to the public through monthly reports and on publicly available websites. We encourage Japan to directly share its plans to address Fukushima’s treated water situation with its neighboring countries. Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority has reviewed and provided preliminary approval for Tokyo Electric Power Company’s plan to release treated water and is conducting a public comment period before providing formal approval. It is accepting comments from other governments during this period.
The United States regrets that the so-called issue of “Israeli nuclear capabilities” has once again been raised in the Board, as Israel remains in full performance of its IAEA safeguards obligations and is a significant contributor to the Agency’s important technical work. Repeating divisive statements aimed at criticizing a State in good standing at the IAEA will not advance our shared goal of a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Such statements have only served to further undermine trust among regional States. We urge the States concerned to refrain from politically motivated statements and to engage their regional neighbors directly in an inclusive, cooperative manner about their security concerns.
The United States supports the long-term goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems, alongside a comprehensive and sustainable regional peace. We remain committed to working with the regional States to advance this important, shared goal. However, we have made clear that progress can only be achieved if pursued in a cooperative manner through direct dialogue and on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by all regional States.
The United States continues to follow developments in the UN Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. While we share the stated goals of the initiative, we continue to question whether it can serve as an effective forum for dialogue, since its establishment was not pursued in a consensus-based manner and has not reflected the views of all regional states. In the absence of participation by all regional states, the United States did not to participate in the first two sessions of the Conference. Nonetheless, the United States remains committed to engaging, and finding common ground, with the regional states on these issues.
We continue to urge regional states concerned to engage their neighbors directly, build regional trust and confidence, and identify a mutually acceptable path forward. The United States stands ready to support any initiatives in this regard that have consensus support among all the regional states and are based in direct and inclusive dialogue.
After more than two years of delay, we look forward to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) this August, and we commend Ambassador Zlauvinen of Argentina and the entire NPT leadership bureau for their tireless work. The RevCon takes on critical new dimensions this year, and NPT Parties will need to respond to extraordinary challenges the likes of which we have not seen even during the darkest days of the Cold War. We stand ready to work with all NPT Parties to achieve a positive outcome that reaffirms our collective commitment to preserving and maintaining the Treaty and the nuclear nonproliferation regime for which it has served as the cornerstone for more than 50 years.
In the nuclear arena, the NPT is at the very core of the rules-based international order and has been central to the success of the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime. The United States strongly supports the IAEA in its role as an essential partner in implementing the NPT. We look forward to developing, along with interested parties, additional opportunities for cooperation that fulfills the NPT’s promise to make available the peaceful benefits of the atom.
Thank you, Chair.