Strengthening Agency Support to Member States Considering or Launching Nuclear Power Programmes (GOV/INF/2009/11)
IAEA Board of Governors Meeting November 26-27, 2009
Over the past several years, the United States has been a strong supporter of the Agency’s efforts to provide guidance to Member States newly considering nuclear power. We have been heartened by the positive response to the IAEA report “Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power.”
We believe that this document provides excellent guidance to Member States on what elements need to be in place for the responsible deployment of nuclear power. However, it was never designed to provide detailed guidance on how Member States can develop these capabilities. The Agency is developing additional guidance on how Member States might proceed, and the United States has strongly supported this effort with extrabudgetary resources.
However, the responsible development of nuclear power infrastructure is ultimately the obligation of the country that will host the nuclear power plants. States wishing to move forward need to do so in a manner that is safe and secure and that does not contribute to nuclear proliferation.
The Agency provides some support to Member States proceeding to build civil nuclear infrastructure, through the Technical Cooperation program, through INPRO, and through the infrastructure-centered programs of the Department of Nuclear Energy. However, with more than 60 Member States now expressing interest in civil nuclear power, we recognize that Agency support in this area is increasingly constrained by the availability of human and financial resources.
Fortunately, Agency efforts are greatly supplemented by other sources, such as bilateral cooperation programs, multilateral cooperation fora (such as Global Nuclear Energy Partnership working groups), and commercial consulting contracts. Nevertheless, even these resources are becoming increasingly constrained in the face of burgeoning interest in civil nuclear power.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, the United States supports the exploration of means to strengthen Agency support to Member States considering or launching nuclear power programs. Such support makes an important contribution to the right of NPT parties under Article IV to reap the benefits of nuclear energy in compliance with their treaty obligations. Nevertheless, we recommend that any efforts designed to strengthen Agency support in this area proceed at a measured pace and within the Programme and Budget process of the Agency.
This important issue must be well understood by all Member States, and its full implications must be carefully considered:
- Special consideration should be given to ensuring that any potential expansion of activities remains within the Agency’s mandate. The IAEA must be careful not to cross the line between intergovernmental agency and international consultant, which could, for example, bring about liability concerns and undermine the support of donor countries.
- Financial implications should also be carefully considered. The United States agrees with the report’s statement that “in general terms, and as a measure of their commitment, the cost of new services should be borne directly by those receiving the services.” We also recognize, as the report points out, that “some additional funding through the regular budget and extrabudgetary sources would be needed.”
- Most of all, we believe that future work on infrastructure development will require careful coordination among all Member States to ensure that support is not duplicated, gaps are reduced, and efficiency is maximized. As we move forward together, the need for harmonization becomes ever more acute.
The United States therefore concurs with the report’s summary statement that “further consideration of strengthening the Agency’s services would need to take into account the relevant legal, financial and practical implications.”
The United States supports the expansion of civil nuclear power as a proven source of low-carbon, baseload electricity. We are committed to working with aspiring nuclear energy States and with the Agency to support the development of the robust infrastructure required to meet the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation.
Thank you Mr. Chairman