IAEA BoG – U.S. on the Annual Report for 2020

Real time RT-PCR is the most accurate method to detect the COVID-19 virus. The FAO/IAEA Animal Protection and Health Laboratory has been helping countries use this technique to detect amimal to human diseases for decades. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Agenda Item 2: the Annual Report for 2020

U.S. statement as delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Louis L. Bono
Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2021

Good morning and Thank You, Madam Chair,

The United States commends the Agency for its draft Annual Report for 2020. We appreciate the additional info-graphics and the streamlining of the draft Annual Report, which are improvements that help the document better reflect how the IAEA continues to provide global benefits to countries 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. In this regard, I would like to highlight just a few areas contained in the Report.

First and foremost, I would like to laud the Agency for its extraordinary efforts over the past year to carry out its vital missions across the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Agency’s prompt actions to respond and adapt to the challenging new circumstances, which we are still grappling with today, deserve recognition and high praise from its Member States. We applaud the leadership and staff of the Agency for their professionalism, dedication, and resilience, and encourage them to continue finding innovative ways to carry out all core functions of the Agency.

In the area of nuclear power, the Report illustrates the ways in which the IAEA assists those Member States with existing nuclear power plants by enhancing plant performance and ensuring their secure, safe, efficient, and reliable long-term operation and also showcases the Agency’s important activities in support of Member States that are embarking on new nuclear power programs. Additionally, we were pleased with the IAEA’s 2020 Scientific Forum: Nuclear Power and the Clean Energy Transition, which focused on the technological innovations that are making nuclear power a more affordable and attractive energy option and highlighted the challenges hindering its greater development. We agree with the Forum’s conclusion that nuclear power must have a seat at the table in global discussions on energy policies to curb emissions and meet climate goals.

In the area of nuclear safety, we applaud the Secretariat for preparing its annual Nuclear Safety Review, which serves as a good reminder of the scope and value of activities undertaken to strengthen nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety, and emergency preparedness and response. The assistance the IAEA provides to Member States in these areas continue to reinforce the importance of ensuring strong nuclear safety practices, which assist in preventing harm to both human life and the environment. Additionally, we continue to strongly encourage Member States’ full participation in the Conventions on Nuclear Safety and Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, the Joint Convention, as well as the additional political commitments for implementing the Codes of Conduct for the Safety of Research Reactors and the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, to include the latter’s supplementary guidance.

On nuclear security, the Report reflects the IAEA’s central role in strengthening the nuclear security framework globally, and how implementation of such activities facilitates access to nuclear energy and technology. We commend the Agency for continuing its critical nuclear security work despite challenges presented by the pandemic and encourage all Member States to continue supporting and requesting the Agency’s services to strengthen their respective national nuclear security regimes.

In the area of safeguards, we will say more under a later agenda item, but we note that despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the IAEA maintained its ability to draw sound safeguards conclusions, providing essential support to the international nonproliferation regime and to international cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Cooperation between the Agency and Member States is also critical to effective safeguards implementation. In this regard, we hope to see concrete results from the Agency’s COMPASS initiative. The United States will continue to provide strong support for the Agency’s verification mission.

On non-power nuclear applications, the Report notes the significant progress made regarding the efforts to renovate the Nuclear Applications Laboratories at Seibersdorf, including the inauguration of the Yukiya Amano Laboratories and the launch of ReNuAL 2. The inauguration was a significant milestone as it signaled completion of the initial ReNuAL project, and we are proud to have been the first to signal our support for ReNuAL 2, which will bolster the Agency’s abilities in the areas of climate-smart agriculture, environmental resource management, and food security. The United States applauds the Agency for its continued efforts throughout 2020 to prepare for emergency responses to transboundary animal disease outbreaks worldwide. These efforts have played a key role in the Agency’s prompt and decisive response to Member States’ requests for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, we acknowledge the Agency’s ZODIAC initiative and remain committed to engaging the Agency as it coordinates efforts to realize the initiative’s goals.

On management, we applaud Director General Grossi’s commitment and action to achieve gender parity in all levels of the professional and higher staff categories throughout the Agency by 2025, and more broadly through the well-received Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Program. Additionally, we would like to recognize the Agency’s efforts to expand coordination and cooperation with other international organizations, governments, and nontraditional partners. These efforts have increased and diversified the resources the Agency uses to implement new initiatives. As such, we remain encouraged by the Secretariat’s commitment to results-based management. Finally, we note that the Agency continues to strengthen its information and IT security by decommissioning legacy systems and technologies and addressing ongoing cyber threats as part of its regular IT operations. The United States stands ready to assist the Agency in these important areas.

Madam Chair,

With these comments, we join consensus in recommending submission of the draft Annual Report for 2020 for the General Conference’s approval, subject to such corrections as they may be necessary.

Thank you, Madam Chair.