IAEA BoG – U.S. on the Annual Report for 2019

Ambassador Wolcott delivers a U.S. statement at a virtual meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, June 15, 2020.

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Agenda Item 2: the Annual Report for 2019

U.S. statement as delivered by Ambassador Jackie Wolcott
Vienna, Austria, June 15, 2020

Thank you, Madam Chair,

The United States commends the Agency for its draft Annual Report for 2019. We appreciate the additional info-graphics and the streamlining of the draft Annual Report, which effectively reflects how the IAEA continues to benefit countries around the world through the development and transfer of nuclear technologies for peaceful applications, enhanced nuclear safety and security, and strengthened nuclear verification in support of nuclear nonproliferation worldwide. As such, I would like to highlight just a few areas contained in the Report.

On nuclear power infrastructure, the Report illustrates the many ways in which the IAEA assists Member States with existing nuclear power plants by enhancing plant performance and ensuring safe, secure, efficient, and reliable long-term operation. The Report also illustrates how the Agency assists Member States embarking on new nuclear power programs in planning and building nuclear infrastructure. The United States places great importance on nuclear power, and we are proudly looking forward to hosting the next nuclear power ministerial in 2021. Additionally, we are very pleased that the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Kazakhstan officially became operational in October 2019, when the Agency took its first shipment of LEU, and subsequently, its second shipment of LEU in December 2019. This milestone is a major achievement for the Agency and is critical to assuring countries of the availability of nuclear fuel.

In the area of nuclear safety, we applaud the Secretariat for preparing an annual Nuclear Safety Review that serves as a good reminder of the scope and value of activities undertaken to strengthen nuclear, radiation, transport, and waste safety. The assistance the IAEA provides to Member States in this area continues to reinforce the importance of ensuring strong nuclear safety practices that assist in preventing harm to both human life and the environment. In this regard, we encourage the Agency to continue to further this assistance by reducing the backlog in publications of nuclear safety standards, as well as nuclear security guidance. Additionally, we continue to encourage full participation in the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention. We welcome States that have joined the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage as well as additional political commitments for implementing the Codes of Conduct for the Safety of Research Reactors and the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its supplementary guidance. We strongly encourage Member States that have not yet done so to join or make a political commitment to implement these important instruments.

On nuclear security, the Report summarizes the IAEA’s critical role and demonstrates how important nuclear security is to support all Member States’ access to nuclear energy, science, and technology. We appreciate the Agency’s activities to promote universal ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its Amendment. We look forward to the continuation of such activities as we approach the 2021 Conference of the Parties to the Amendment, and we encourage all States that have not yet done so to ratify and implement the Convention and its Amendment.

In the area of safeguards, the IAEA continues to implement effective verification measures to provide the basis for the safeguards conclusions drawn for each state. A strong safeguards system that generates credible conclusions about peaceful nuclear activities is absolutely essential to the international nonproliferation regime and, therefore, to international security. The United States will continue to provide strong support for the IAEA’s verification work worldwide.

On non-power nuclear applications, the draft Annual Report notes the significant progress made regarding the efforts to renovate the Nuclear Applications Laboratories at Seibersdorf. The United States was proud to support the delivery of the new linear accelerator at the Agency’s Dosimetry Laboratory and we were pleased that the Insect Pest Control Laboratory completed its move to the new building, three months ahead of schedule, and is now fully operational. To continue our strong support for the IPCL, we are happy to announce the allocation of $1.17 million to support two Sterile Insect Technique projects, including $733,000 for the development and validation of SIT to control disease-transmitting mosquitos and $436,000 to support the eradication of the tsetse fly in Senegal.

Finally, on management, we applaud Director General Grossi’s new initiative to achieve gender parity in all levels of the professional and higher staff categories throughout the Agency by 2025. Additionally, we would like to recognize the Agency’s efforts in addressing ongoing cyber threats as part of its regular IT operations. We note that the Agency continues to strengthen its information and IT security by decommissioning legacy systems and technologies. The United States stands ready to assist the Agency in these two important areas.
Madam Chair,

With these comments, we join consensus in recommending submission of the draft Annual Report for 2019 for the General Conference’s approval.

Thank you, Madam Chair.