As Prepared for Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette
2020 IAEA General Conference
It is an honor to join you for this year’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s General Conference.
On behalf of the United States, I wish you all a productive Conference and hope that you, your families, and your colleagues are safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I was pleased to hear that the IAEA has provided more than 120 countries and territories with diagnostic equipment to combat COVID-19 and proud that the United States was able to contribute $11 million to this effort.
Science and technology are critical to solving the world’s most complex problems and I am proud to say that the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Laboratories have been up to the challenge of aiding the global response to COVID-19.
Together, I know we will be successful in combating this new threat and perhaps even come out on the other side stronger – with new advances in science and medicine that benefit the entire international community.
But even as we focus on defeating the novel coronavirus, we must not ignore other opportunities or threats the global community faces. I want to reiterate that the United States fully supports the IAEA’s important mission to “accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world.”
To that end, I would call your attention to two upcoming events: the review conferences for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose fiftieth anniversary we celebrate this year, and the Amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
These events will provide us an opportunity to ensure that — backed by high standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation — nuclear energy, science, and technology will continue to support sustainable development.
I am also particularly excited that the United States will host the IAEA’s International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in October 2021, in Washington, D.C. This will be the first such Ministerial in the Western Hemisphere, and we are working with the IAEA to ensure it is the greatest one yet.
The United States remains committed to addressing the threats posed by the nuclear programs of both North Korea and Iran.
On top of its horrific record as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran has a lamentable history of providing only grudging, dilatory, and incomplete cooperation — if at all — with the IAEA. Iran must do much more to ensure that its compliance with safeguards obligations is both timely and complete. Such compliance is necessary to our objective of ensuring that Iran will never possess a nuclear weapon.
Also key to realizing this objective, is full international implementation of relevant United Nations Security Council provisions, including those restored on September 20, 2020.
The United States remains ready to make progress towards the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, and we urge North Korea to join us in negotiations toward this objective — thereby ensuring a brighter future for the North Korean people.
In this spirit, we encourage all states that have not yet done so to bring into force the highest standard of IAEA safeguards agreements, including a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, an Additional Protocol, and, if applicable, a modified Small Quantities Protocol.
The United States is also investing heavily in both conventional and advanced nuclear technologies so that clean, abundant, baseload nuclear energy can be more available to responsible nations. And, we are exploring ways to improve proliferation resistance in new reactor designs through partnership with our private sector.
Today, small modular reactors are becoming a reality and are within reach of responsible nations across the globe. America’s first innovative Small Modular Reactor design has recently completed the final stage of safety analysis at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
SMRs of many types will allow nuclear energy to be more easily financed, right-sized for smaller markets, and allow more nations to affordably deploy this zero-emission, highly available, and high-output energy source.
Through our partnership in the IAEA, our responsible nations will continue to work toward a brighter future that includes the peaceful use of nuclear power.