IAEA Board of Governors Meeting – Agenda Item 4 – Nuclear and Radiation Safety
U.S. statement as Delivered by Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate
Vienna, Austria, September 12, 2022
The United States takes note of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Report GOV/2022/35 and applauds the Agency’s efforts to assist Member States to strengthen their nuclear radiation safety; transport and waste safety; and emergency preparedness and response measures. The IAEA continues to make significant progress in a variety of nuclear safety projects and activities valued by the United States and other Member States.
We welcome the IAEA’s encouragement of Member States – particularly those planning to build power plants to become contracting parties to safety-related conventions, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, and to fully participate in their review processes. Through the Agency’s efforts, current and prospective contracting parties fully understand the requirements and obligations of both conventions. This is an important component of successful implementation, and we continue to encourage those efforts. We also acknowledge the IAEA’s efforts to assist Member States in adhering to relevant nuclear liability instruments and promoting participation in the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
We fully support the Agency’s activities to improve nuclear safety worldwide. Member States benefit from actively utilizing the Agency’s expertise through, for example, peer review services and technical advisory missions and follow-up missions. We encourage our fellow Member States to publish the results of peer review missions in the interest of transparency and to improve global nuclear safety. We also encourage the Agency to carefully consider Member State feedback, with a view to continually improving the quality and responsiveness of its activities, as part of conducting future missions. The United States welcomes the establishment of the Safety Infrastructure for a Nuclear Power Program for embarking on a nuclear power program as a precursor to an Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission, with the understanding that such a mission will follow at a later time.
The United States appreciates the Agency’s work in developing and implementing an action plan to address the backlog of safety standards awaiting publication and its efforts to find a sustainable solution to prevent any future backlogs. We are also eagerly awaiting the publication of the nuclear safety and security joint glossary, as the Agency and Member States continue to place importance on the interface of safety and security.
The safety and security of civilian nuclear facilities is of the utmost importance to the international community, and we commend the IAEA and DG Grossi’s continuing efforts to coordinate and respond to urgent nuclear safety and security imperatives in Ukraine resulting from Russia’s full-scale invasion of this sovereign nation. Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine has featured an unprecedented event: ongoing hostilities around—and Russia’s armed seizure of—an operating civil nuclear power plant. The precarious situation at the Zaporizhzhya facility is entirely of Russia’s making, and Russia’s claims that Ukraine is culpable for the situation are reprehensible.
We applaud the bravery of the IAEA personnel who embarked on the Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya and particularly those remaining onsite. As we have said before, both the Ukrainian operators and the IAEA must have unhindered access to inspect all areas of the plant. To be clear, the IAEA is onsite at the plant by invitation of Ukraine to inspect and make recommendations regarding the safety of Ukraine’s civil nuclear facility. And while the Agency has confirmed that the Ukrainian operators have kept all nuclear safety systems in normal condition while facing high stress and pressure – for which the Ukrainian operators should be admired – the Agency has emphatically pointed out even more ways that Russia’s seizure of the power plant continues to compromise all of the “Seven Indispensable Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security” DG Grossi has outlined. Each of the seven pillars must be upheld by all relevant actors. We support Ukraine’s call for the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the area surrounding the Zaporizhzhya facility. We once again insist that Russia cease all military operations at or near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and that Russia immediately return full control of the Zaporizhzhya facility to Ukraine. The current risks that threaten the safety and security of not only Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, but also human lives and the environment, can only be dealt with by the immediate withdrawal of Russia’s forces from Ukraine’s sovereign territory – and that is what we demand.
Thank you, Chair.