IAEA Board of Governors – U.S. Statement on Nuclear Security

Journalists snap photos of participants prior to the opening session of the September 2019 IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Vienna, Austria, Sept. 9, 2019. (USUNVIE)

U.S. Statement on Agenda Item 4: Nuclear Security

As delivered by Ambassador Jackie Wolcott

Vienna, September 9, 2019


Thank you, Madam Chair,

The important work of the Agency provides critical support to achieving effective nuclear security globally. The issuance of the Nuclear Security Report 2019 helps makes this clear. The Report provides a summary of the incredible breadth of work undertaken by the IAEA, especially by the Division of Nuclear Security. The United States wishes to highlight a few elements in particular.

We welcome the emphasis on increased coordination, and we are encouraged by the Agency’s more collaborative approach in the implementation of its activities. The Report makes clear that this will continue, noting a number of nuclear security activities undertaken in cooperation with other Departments and Divisions. We believe this can reduce duplication, streamline Agency activities, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and maximize the benefits to Member States.

Similarly, the Report mentions the continued application of a results-based approach to nuclear security activities, which helps drive positive outcomes from Agency assistance. We welcome the focus on this new section on results-based management, and encourage systematic application of program management best practices, including comprehensively establishing performance measures, documenting baselines, setting clear goals, and measuring outcomes.

Doing so supports the third item of interest: the goal of improving the Agency’s communications on nuclear security. We believe the Agency’s work is having a considerable impact on nuclear security worldwide that supports the national security of its Member States. We believe Agency activities support broad access to nuclear technology, and that public confidence is increased by the positive impacts of nuclear security – in addition to nuclear safety, safeguards, and the full gamut of peaceful uses. We are therefore heartened to see the increased focus on improved communications to spread this message.

Madam Chair,

Beyond the Nuclear Security Report, we also must mention two major nuclear security events on the horizon. ICONS is fast approaching, and we must take a moment to thank the Ambassadors of Bulgaria and Egypt for their successful efforts to finalize the scientific and technical program for the Conference. We are confident it will be a successful conference in large part due to their hard work throughout the program committee process. We also thank Romania and Panama for their initial meetings to hear from Member States about priorities for the Ministerial Declaration, and we look forward to the continuation of that process. We are sure that constructive negotiations lie ahead, and we stand ready to contribute to developing a strong and forward-leaning Declaration. We urge Member States to attend the ICONS at the ministerial level, as high-level participation demonstrates our shared commitment to building a strong nuclear security regime.

Preparations are also underway for the Conference to Review the Amendment to the CPPNM. We thank Argentina and Australia for co-chairing the legal and technical meetings this year, and we hope for continued progress in setting the stage for a successful conference in 2021. To that end, we encourage all States Parties to participate in these meetings, and call on all states not yet party to ratify CPPNM and its Amendment to bring us closer to having a truly universal global legal framework for nuclear security.

Madam Chair,

We would be remiss to not recognize the IAEA’s efforts over the past year to inform Member States of current and upcoming plans regarding the Division and its activities. We continue to welcome regular briefings, and urge the Division’s leadership to continue planning such sessions for both the permanent missions and representatives from capitals. This further demonstrates the Agency’s efforts and willingness to improve communicating its important work.

Finally, we wish to note the importance of the Nuclear Security Series in providing guidance to Member States and underpinning all the IAEA capacity building assistance and advisory services for nuclear security. We are therefore concerned by the backlog in the IAEA publication process and commensurate delay in releasing new or updated guidance documents. We encourage the Secretariat to look into this issue and propose ways to address it, such as increasing the number of editors available to review IAEA publications, in pursuit of the timely release of documents. We stand ready to assist as necessary so that these valuable IAEA publications can be made available to all Member States.

Thank you, Madam Chair.