Statement to the IAEA Board of Governors: Nuclear Applications

Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology, and Applications

U.S. Statement as delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Laura Kennedy

Thank you, Mr. Chair,

As a newcomer myself, I wanted to begin by extending a warm welcome and congratulations to DDG Aldo Malavasi.  We would like to voice our appreciation for the Secretariat’s work preparing the Director General’s reports on the International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2014and on Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology, and Applications.  We also appreciate the Agency’s ongoing efforts to advance programs related to nuclear science, technology, and applications, and nuclear energy, in contributing to international development goals.

The report on the status of nuclear energy concludes that nuclear power is at a “paradoxical stage.”  While the Agency’s projections for the growth of nuclear power have declined since 2010, over the longer term, widespread interest in nuclear energy still exists.  The report notes that 33 countries are considering adoption of nuclear power, while 13 of the 30 countries currently operating nuclear power plants are constructing or completing new units, and 12 more are actively planning to build new reactors.

The U.S. continues to support nuclear power as an important and clean energy source.  However, the U.S. also recognizes that nuclear power presents a unique set of challenges.  Countries considering its adoption should strive to meet the highest standards for safety, security, and nonproliferation.  We support efforts to assist Member States in building the infrastructure necessary to attain those standards.

In this regard, the Agency plays an important role.  Annex 5 to the report onStrengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology, and Applications, on “Nuclear Energy Activities,” describes the many programs carried out last year to assist States in following the best practices in power plant operation and life cycle management.  As a measure to underline the importance of infrastructure development, the U.S. welcomes the upgrade of the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Group to become the Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section.  We also welcome plans to update the Agency’s principal guidance document on infrastructure development that is: Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power.

The U.S. supports the minimization of highly enriched uranium in research reactors, and appreciates the Agency’s support for HEU minimization programs.  We applaud the recent return of nearly 50 kg of HEU from Hungary in late 2013.

As the report on the International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Powerpoints out, no industry can survive over the long run without innovation.  We are encouraged by the scope of research programs summarized in Annex 6, “Agency Activities in the Development of Innovative Nuclear Technology.”  Of particular note is the number of national programs to develop small and medium size reactors.  If successfully deployed, SMRs hold great promise for the future of nuclear energy and economic development of Member States.  A possible application of SMRs, of course, is discussed in Annex 7, “Producing Potable Water Economically Using Small and Medium Sized Reactors.”

Now, among the activities of the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, we particularly welcome the successful conclusion of the INPRO collaborative project, in which the U.S. participated, on Global Architecture of Innovative Nuclear Energy Systems Based on Thermal and Fast Reactors.

I would like to emphasize my government’s support for the IAEA’s efforts to optimize cooperation between Agency departments, and to expand partnerships with other organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, and the Generation IV International Forum.  These partnerships contribute to the success of both nuclear power and non-power programs.

The U.S. is pleased that since 2010, the European Union and at least 18 IAEA Member States have together provided $73 million in extrabudgetary cash and in-kind contributions toward the five-year goal of raising $100 million for the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative.  This support has helped to strengthen IAEA activities related to nuclear science, technology, and applications, and has provided the Agency with additional resources to support high priority Member State projects and to respond to unforeseen challenges.  More than 120 countries around the world have already benefited.

U.S. contributions to PUI have now exceeded our original $50 million pledge.  Of these contributions, we have already allocated approximately $2.7 million for water resource management; $4.1 million for marine, ocean, and other environmental protection; $5.6 million for food security and other agricultural development; $6.4 million to advance human health, including fighting cancer; $6.7 million to promote nuclear safety and security; and $11.7 million for nuclear power infrastructure development.  To heighten awareness of these important IAEA peaceful uses activities, we announced this year during Secretary Kerry’s “Our Ocean” Conference that the U.S. was providing a PUI contribution of $1.9 million to address ocean and marine issues.  In addition, we announced at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, that the U.S. was proud to host, that we were providing a PUI contribution of over $1.5 million to fight cancer in Africa.  We urge Member States to join those who donate generously to the PUI in addition to contributing their full share to the Technical Cooperation Fund.

The Agency’s non-power programs play a distinctive and powerful role in contributing to international development goals and responding to global health and food security issues.  We great value to these programs, and we will continue to support them – in part by fulfilling our commitments to the TCF but also through wide-ranging support that goes well beyond our TCF contributions, while encouraging others to do the same.  We welcome and fully support efforts to ensure that these programs are being implemented in a manner designed both to achieve results and to meet the highest standards of safeguards, safety, and security.

We welcome the Secretariat’s update on the Sterile Insect Technique for the control or eradication of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.  We are proud to support such important work and we commend progress made throughout the year.

We also welcome the Director General’s update on the African Union’s Pan-African Tsetse and Trypanosomosis Eradication Campaign.  We are pleased to have provided over $2.1 million to this project through the PUI since 2010.  The recent breakthrough by the IAEA and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in decoding the genome of the tsetse fly species is an example of a partnership between international organizations that is yielding real progress.

We support the Agency’s continued focus on improving the intensification of agricultural productivity, ensuring food safety and quality, and better adaptation to and mitigation of the impact of climate change on agriculture.

The U.S. fully supports the Agency’s goal of Renovating the Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf, and I very much look forward to visiting it on the 29th, and this report provides a useful update on progress that has been made over the past year, as well as the challenges that lie ahead, including the finalization of the master plan and completion of the building designs, before real construction can begin in early 2015.  We encourage the Agency to pursue its engagement with non-traditional partners, such as NGOs, foundations, and the private sector.  We also appreciate the Agency’s recognition of the importance of learning from experiences in planning and implementing the Enhancing Capabilities of the Safeguards Analytical Services project.  We look forward to receiving a detailed implementation plan soon, and we urge the Secretariat to continue providing sound cost estimates, timelines, milestones, options, and design concepts, and to hold regular briefings for Member States on progress made on this critical project.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.