IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, Agenda Item 6: Nuclear Security Review 2022
U.S. statement as delivered by Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate
Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2022
The United States places great importance on nuclear security and affirms the IAEA’s central role in coordinating international assistance and in strengthening nuclear security worldwide. We applaud and support the IAEA and DG Grossi’s continuing efforts to coordinate and respond to Ukraine’s request for nuclear security assistance. We remain committed to DG Grossi’s efforts to apply the broadly accepted core principles of nuclear safety and security globally, as enumerated in the Seven Indispensable Pillars. Global nuclear security is a collective endeavor, and we call on all Member States to fully implement all legally binding and non-legally binding instruments that enhance the security of nuclear and other radioactive materials that are used for peaceful purposes. Nuclear security does not hinder peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Rather it complements technical exchange and cooperation activities that allow us all to harness the benefits of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes.
In direct contrast to the decades long collective approach to nuclear security, one state, Russia, has upended this legal and normative structure through its unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine and on nuclear facilities in Ukraine. Russian forces’ brazen and irresponsible actions at nuclear and radiological facilities in Ukraine are the foremost nuclear safety and security issue of our time. Not only are the Ukrainian staff responsible for these facilities under grave stress and pressure from Russian attacks and threats, Russia’s aggressive acts are already having dangerous political, economic, and environmental implications for Ukraine, the region, and indeed the interconnected global community. We call upon the Russian Federation to immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any IAEA member state.
I would like to congratulate the Agency on convening a highly successful and robust first Review Conference of the Parties to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. We also extend our congratulations to the co-Presidents, Nigeria and Switzerland, whose leadership was essential to the conference’s success. We are encouraged by the fact that almost half of the Parties have now fulfilled their obligation under Article 14.1 to inform the IAEA of their laws and regulations giving effect to the Convention. However, our nuclear security efforts are far from complete; we hope others will join us in using the momentum generated by the Review Conference to continue enhancing the global nuclear security framework. This includes encouraging Member States that have not yet become party to the Amended Convention (A/CPPNM) to do so, and supporting international cooperation to enable full implementation and universalization ahead of the next Review Conference.
Against this backdrop, we welcome the IAEA’s first Nuclear Security Review and the technical briefing that the Agency convened on May 19. We see the Review as a tool, similar to the Nuclear Safety Review, produced by the Secretariat to increase communication and transparency with Member States about the IAEA’s nuclear security priorities and activities. We are pleased that the Secretariat’s core priorities, as outlined in the Review, include promoting universal adherence to and full implementation of the A/CPPNM; augmenting the physical protection of nuclear and radiological material from various threats, including cyberattacks; improving training and sustainability; and strengthening the interface between nuclear safety and security. We also welcome DG Grossi’s direction to evolve nuclear security series from guidance to standards. We laud the Secretariat’s efforts to promote gender equality and geographic diversity as captured and referenced in the Review.
This Review is an opportunity to elevate the profile of nuclear security by creating an additional standing item on future Board of Governors meeting agendas. As noted in the Review’s Executive Overview, the Secretariat has produced this document to inform Member States of global trends in nuclear security and future Agency activities. Member States may consider this information during negotiations of the annual General Conference Nuclear Security Resolution. As the Review is for information purposes, we believe the Review should not be subjected to the politicization that often accompanies more policy-based documents, such as the annual Nuclear Security Resolution and the quadrennial Nuclear Security Plan. The United States appreciates the Secretariat’s receptiveness to feedback, including recommendations to include details on the Nuclear Security Fund, and analysis of trends informed through IAEA nuclear security advisory services and missions. We look forward to continued dialogue to further refine the Nuclear Security Review for future iterations.
A strong, comprehensive, and effective global nuclear security system not only helps prevent the threat, sabotage, or unlawful use of nuclear material, it also supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy, science, and technology. In this regard, we call attention to the Secretariat’s capacity building efforts to assist Member States, upon request, to increase practical understanding and implementation of nuclear security measures with their peaceful nuclear activities. The establishment of the Nuclear Security Training and Demonstration Center (NSTDC) is a welcome addition to such efforts. However, long-term sustainability remains a concern to the United States, and we encourage the Secretariat to consider practical ways to maximize efficiency in resources to support and sustain the Center, one of which could include ensuring that all Program Support Costs from extrabudgetary contributions to the training center are reapplied directly to the project itself to help defray costs associated with the Center. While important for the Secretariat to mobilize resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, we also call on all Member States in a position to do so to proactively consider support for the Agency’s efforts in this area. Further, we note the recently established “Friends of NSTDC” group, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and encourage interested Member States to join the group for constructive engagement with the Secretariat. It is critical that the Agency has the tools and resources to meet growing demands within its nuclear security mandate if we are to support Member States’ abilities to responsibly develop, sustain, and strengthen their national nuclear security regimes.
Thank you, Chair.