IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Agenda Item 8(b): Safeguards Implementation Report for 2021
U.S. statement as delivered by Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate
Vienna, Austria, June 8, 2022
Thank you, Chair,
The United States welcomes the Secretariat’s Safeguards Implementation Report for 2021 (SIR). We wish to thank the Safeguards Department for the report and for its excellent work over the last year. A strengthened safeguards system that provides credible assurances about the non-diversion of nuclear material in the State as a whole is absolutely essential to the nonproliferation regime and to international security. The SIR is a window on the operation of the safeguards system and an important basis for safeguards credibility. We particularly welcome information on trends in performance of the safeguards system and the challenges the Agency faces.
I note that the Agency remains unable to draw the broader conclusion for Ukraine. This is entirely due to Russia’s invasion and seizure of some of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and, as the Secretariat has noted, it continues to find no indications that would give rise to a proliferation concern. We call on Russia to return control of those facilities to the competent Ukrainian authorities and to enable the Agency to fulfill its responsibilities under Ukraine’s safeguards agreement and Additional Protocol.
We would like to commend the Secretariat for continuing to carry out its essential safeguards mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to see the additional costs of the pandemic begin to abate and welcome the increase in in-field activities as the Agency has been able to carry out measures that had been deferred. As a result, the Agency was able to conduct all planned in-field verification activities enabling it to draw the safeguards conclusions for 2021.
The United States commends and strongly supports the efforts by the Secretariat to encourage states to conclude safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols and to modify or rescind outdated Small Quantities Protocols. Twenty-five years have passed since the Board approved the Model Additional Protocol, and it is time to redouble our efforts to achieve its universality. The AP helps improve effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards, enables the Secretariat to draw a broader conclusion, which is in effect an assurance that states are not pursuing undeclared nuclear activities and have fulfilled the basic undertaking in Article 1 of a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and in Article III.1 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We call on all States that have not yet done so to bring an AP into force as soon as possible.
We welcome the steady increase in the number of States that have amended or rescinded their Small Quantities Protocol. Seventeen years ago the Board decided the original text of the SQP was inadequate and needed to be replaced, and it is increasingly clear that the Secretariat is unable to draw credibly based and sound conclusions in States with unmodified SQPs. We urge the remaining States to modify their SQP without delay or, particularly if they have made the decision to construct a nuclear facility, to rescind their SQP altogether. In 2018, the United States modified the SQP to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement covering U.S. Caribbean territories, and earlier this year the IAEA conducted its first inspection in these U.S. territories under the modified SQP.
The United States stands ready to assist the Secretariat and States, at their request, to facilitate the conclusion, entry into force, and implementation of these agreements. In that regard, we read with great interest about the Agency’s efforts under its Comprehensive Capacity-Building Initiative known as COMPASS. Despite decades of efforts to help strengthen the State and regional authorities and systems for accounting and control of nuclear material, their weakness remains a chronic area of difficulty in safeguards implementation, with little indication of improvement. We look forward to updates on which tools have been most effective for the seven States selected for the trial period, what lessons have been learned from engagement thus far, and what improvements in performance we can expect to see.
We also take note of the updates on progress to recruit more female candidates for IAEA positions and applaud the Agency’s efforts to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. While we are pleased to see some progress made to improve gender balance, particularly at senior levels, we note that women remain under-represented within the Secretariat overall and within the Department of Safeguards in particular. We want to stress that DEI is about more than numbers – it is about creating a culture in which women and all minorities can succeed. We welcome further initiatives in this area and stand by to provide assistance.
The United States notes the inclusion of the Australia, United Kingdom, and United States partnership in this year’s Foreword by the Director General and we look forward to providing additional updates under Any Other Business. I assure you that we fully understand and will comply with our obligations under our respective safeguards agreements.
Effective safeguards are the Agency’s highest contribution to international security. The Board has a responsibility to ensure that safeguards remain effective and that the Agency’s assurances remain credible. To that end, we rely first and foremost on the professionalism of the Secretariat. We commend the IAEA’s efforts to optimize and standardize the methodology for State-level safeguards approaches – this provides an important link between the planning and implementation of safeguards activities. We look forward to the development of additional State-level safeguards approaches including for all States with safeguards agreements.
With these observations we are pleased to take note of the SIR and agree with the Secretariat’s request for release of both the Safeguards Statement for 2021 and the Background to the Safeguards Statement and Summary. In future years, we would be prepared to consider the release of the full SIR.
Thank you, Chair.