Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate led the U.S. delegation at her first International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors (BOG) as Permanent Representative September 19-22 in Vienna. The 35 members of the Board and other IAEA Member States met to discuss key nuclear-related issues and to prepare for next week’s IAEA General Conference.
On everyone’s minds were North Korea’s latest nuclear and missile tests. Ambassador Holgate joined the international community in condemning North Korea’s recent activities, calling them an “unacceptable challenge to the global nonproliferation regime and to our common peace and security.” She also noted U.S. appreciation for the IAEA Director General’s efforts to monitor and evaluate recent developments, and support for the readiness of the Agency to resume monitoring and verification in North Korea.
Also front and center at the Board were nuclear safety and security and the Sustainable Development Goals. The IAEA plays a critical role in helping Member States keep radiological and nuclear materials safe and secure worldwide, which also helps them take full advantage of nuclear technologies in areas such as human health, agricultural production, and nuclear energy – all critical areas of the Sustainable Development Goals. “Far from hampering access, effective nuclear security also underpins and enables the peaceful use of nuclear technology,” Ambassador Holgate noted.
To further advance the 2016 Sustainable Development Agenda, the United States announced two new voluntary contributions to the IAEA of nearly $4 million each. One, for $3.96 million, will help the IAEA speed up development of the Sterile Insect Technique, an environmentally-friendly and sustainable method of controlling major insect pests that is promising as a technique for suppressing populations of mosquitoes that transmit Zika.
The second contribution of $3.875 million to the IAEA’s Nuclear Safety Program will help the IAEA strengthen capacities, enhance information sharing, support emergency preparedness and response programs, and enhance regulatory infrastructure and oversight.
Other topics on the table of this Board were Iran’s implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and Syria’s noncompliance with its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations.
In looking forward, Ambassador Holgate placed particular emphasis on the IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Security coming up in December. “At a conference focused on “commitments and actions,” we will come prepared to announce important achievements or new commitments on nuclear security, and encourage other Member States to do the same,” Ambassador Holgate said.
The more immediate future, however, is next week – the IAEA General Conference, where U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz will head the U.S. delegation, and the IAEA Scientific Forum these are two of the IAEA’s biggest events of the year. Stay tuned by following us on Twitter (@USUNVIE), on Facebook, and on our website where we post all of our policy statements and need-to-know information.