U.S. Statement – As Prepared for Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate – Agenda Item 2 – Annual Report 2022
Vienna, Austria, June 5, 2023
The United States welcomes the Agency’s draft Annual Report for 2022. We appreciate the efforts of the Secretariat to put forth a draft that reflects the important work undertaken by the IAEA to provide global benefits to countries through the development and transfer of nuclear technologies for peaceful applications, enhanced nuclear safety and security, and strengthened nuclear verification in support of nuclear nonproliferation worldwide. In this regard, I would like to briefly highlight a few areas contained in the Report.
We laud the Agency for its continued efforts throughout 2022 to carry out its vital global mission throughout the COVID-19 global health crisis. Under the leadership of Director General Grossi, the Agency deftly responded to Member States’ requests for assistance to overcome the consequences of natural disasters, industrial accidents, and Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine that is directly impacting the safe and secure operation of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. The United States appreciates the leadership and staff of the Agency for their professionalism, dedication, and resilience, and we will continue to support them as they confront the unprecedented demands facing the IAEA.
On nuclear power infrastructure, the Report describes how the IAEA assisted Member States and fostered international collaboration in developing, deploying, and operating new nuclear power technologies such as small modular reactors. We encourage the Agency’s integration of nuclear safety, security, and safeguards into the IAEA Platform on SMRs and their Applications that aims to provide consistent and coordinated Agency support related to all aspects of small modular reactor development, deployment, and oversight. It is interdepartmental Agency activities such as the Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative that help to create a foundation for such safe, secure, peaceful, and reliable long-term operation of both new and existing technologies. The United States places great importance on nuclear power as a clean energy option. We remain committed to supporting these efforts and appreciate the Agency’s work to solidify nuclear energy’s role in combatting climate change and the transition to clean and reliable energy.
In the area of nuclear safety, we applaud the Secretariat’s work to strengthen nuclear, radiation, transport, and waste safety, along with emergency preparedness and response. IAEA assistance to Member States in these areas is vital to promoting strong nuclear safety practices that reduce the likelihood of the radioactive releases that could cause harm to both human life and the environment. We note that the Agency developed guidance on the conduct of Integrated Regulatory Review Service and Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning, and Remediation missions. These peer review missions remain important tools to strengthen national infrastructure and prepare authorities on matters of nuclear safety, radiation protection, and management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. Additionally, we strongly encourage Member States to become parties to and fully implement the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, and the Joint Convention, and to make political commitments to implement the Codes of Conduct for the Safety of Research Reactors and the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its supplementary guidance.
On nuclear security, the Report reflects the IAEA’s central role in strengthening global nuclear security, particularly with its continued capacity building efforts through targeted assistance provided to States, upon request, to address needs identified within the Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan framework and in line with the Agency’s 2022-2025 Nuclear Security Plan. We appreciate the activities highlighted in the Report and welcomed the Agency’s successful organization of the Conference of the Parties to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material in March 2022. The Secretariat’s intensified outreach on universalization directly resulted in additional ratifications to both the original Convention and its Amendment, and the United States looks forward to complementing the Secretariat’s outreach efforts. We encourage Member States to continue supporting and requesting the Agency’s services to strengthen national nuclear security regimes.
In the area of safeguards, we note that despite the various challenges facing international travel, the IAEA maintained its effective verification measures across the globe. A strong safeguards system that provides credible assurances about non-diversion of nuclear material and the absence of undeclared nuclear activities is absolutely essential to the international nonproliferation regime and to international cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Cooperation between the Agency and Member States is also critical to effective safeguards implementation. In this regard, we are pleased to see support for the Agency’s COMPASS initiative that provides tailored assistance and services to help strengthen the State authorities responsible for safeguards implementation. The year 2022 was a special one for the international safeguards community, during which the quadrennial Symposium on International Safeguards occurred. In 2022, we also marked 60 years of IAEA safeguards inspections, 50 years of comprehensive safeguards agreements, and 25 years of additional protocols. The United States will continue to provide strong support for the IAEA’s verification mission.
On non-power nuclear applications, the Report highlights the Agency’s important Rays of Hope initiative that is increasing access to affordable, equitable, and sustainable radiation medicine services within a comprehensive cancer control system. We also note the great strides the Agency is making on the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action initiatives that aim to combat zoonotic diseases using nuclear techniques. These initiatives have fostered strengthened collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and we applaud these partnerships. We are pleased to support these and other critical initiatives that provide concrete examples of the benefits derived from peaceful nuclear applications.
On management, we applaud the Agency’s efforts, set forth by Director General Grossi, to achieve gender parity by 2025 in all levels of the Professional and higher staff categories throughout the Agency. But it is not just about numbers: we must also create a culture where women and other underrepresented groups can thrive. The United States remains committed to providing the Agency with the tools necessary to implement and sustain activities that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in accordance with the Agency’s Gender Equality Policy and Action Plan. Initiatives such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Program and the Lise Meitner Program are important ways to continue building a pipeline of professional women to boost their career development in the nuclear field, and we look forward to continuing our support for these programs.
We remain encouraged by the Secretariat’s commitment to strengthen its results-based approach to maximize effectiveness and efficiency as it strives to achieve programmatic results. We call on the Agency to continue dismantling its internal silos and embracing a collaborative “one-house” approach, as Interdepartmental coordination maximizes effectiveness. We also applaud the Agency for strengthening its information management and IT security by decommissioning legacy systems and technologies and invoking modern solutions to address ongoing cyber threats as part of its regular IT operations. We encourage all Member States to support these efforts where possible.
The United States reiterates its strong support for the collaboration between the Government of Japan and the IAEA so that all decommissioning efforts at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant – including the expected dispersal of the treated water – remain comprehensive, credible, and transparent. We would like to thank the IAEA’s Fukushima task force for its continued efforts to impartially review and report on the Government of Japan’s proposed activities.
The United States reiterates our understanding that the Government of Japan’s approach is safe, as it appears to be in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety, treaties, and standards, and that the IAEA Task Force will monitor Japan’s activities as it prepares to enter the operational phase later this summer. We encourage the Government of Japan to continue its transparent practices of sharing information on the status of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in regularly released reports provided to the IAEA, and engagements with the international community. We support the close coordination between the Government of Japan and the IAEA regarding the Government of Japan’s plan to disperse the treated water when it is deemed safe to do so.
We look forward to voluntary contributions from other Member States to support this project’s success.
I deeply regret that Russia has attempted to reopen the issue of the status of nuclear facilities in territory it seized illegally from Ukraine. The Secretariat has addressed this issue properly, consistent with international law and the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly, since it was first raised seven years ago. Nothing has occurred that should change how this issue is reflected in the Annual Report and the annexes thereto.
The United States rejects the changes proposed by the Russian Federation in this regard, and we support the draft Annual Report for 2022 and its annexes as written. We therefore recommend submission of this draft Annual Report for the General Conference’s approval.
With these comments, we join consensus in recommending submission of the draft Annual Report for 2022 for the General Conference’s approval, subject to such corrections as may be necessary.
Thank you, Chair.