U.S. Statement – As Prepared for Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate – Agenda Item 6b – Safeguards Implementation Report for 2022
Vienna, Austria, June 6, 2023
The United States welcomes the Safeguards Implementation Report for 2022 and expresses our sincere appreciation to the Department of Safeguards for its continued professionalism in carrying out its critical work over the last year.
A strong safeguards system that provides credible assurances that States are abiding by their safeguards obligations is essential to international security, and the IAEA’s annual safeguards findings and conclusions are an important outcome of its work. The United States welcomes the Agency’s clarification of its finding on undeclared production or processing of nuclear material at declared facilities and locations outside facilities for States with a comprehensive safeguards agreement. We have encouraged the Agency to more fully express its findings in States with comprehensive safeguards agreements, consistent with past practice and with its mandate to verify the correctness and completeness of a State’s declaration. We believe it better explains and reflects the IAEA’s safeguards implementation activities in these States.
The United States also commends the Agency’s efforts to encourage States to conclude safeguards agreements and additional protocols and to amend or rescind outdated small quantities protocols. It has been 18 years since the Board decided that the original text of the small quantities protocol was inadequate and needed to be replaced. It is increasingly clear that the Agency’s safeguards conclusions for States with a small quantities protocol based on the original text are difficult to justify, given the limitations on information and access under those protocols. The United States urges such States to amend or rescind their small quantities protocols without delay.
The United States notes the new section of the report on safeguards implementation in Ukraine and thanks the Agency for continuing to carry out safeguards activities in Ukraine under the terms of Ukraine’s safeguards agreement despite the significant challenges created by Russia’s full-scale invasion. Although the Agency remains unable to draw the broader conclusion for Ukraine, this is due entirely to Russia’s invasion and its egregious seizure of control over some of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. I want to emphasize that the IAEA continues to find no indications that would give rise to a proliferation concern in Ukraine.
The Safeguards Implementation Report is a helpful window into the operation of the safeguards system. We are pleased that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer considered a major area of difficulty for safeguards implementation and that COMPASS has led to tangible progress toward strengthening State systems of accounting for and control of nuclear material in pilot States participating in the initiative. We note that the publication of the updated International Target Values was an important milestone in 2022. The United States is proud to support the IAEA’s work to promote gender equality among its staff. We appreciate the steady gains in increasing the representation of women in the Department of Safeguards and note that, of the sixteen staff members this Board just approved as safeguards inspectors, seven are women. We encourage the Agency to continue its efforts in gender mainstreaming.
Finally, the United States notes the inclusion of the new section of the report on naval nuclear propulsion. The United States and the United Kingdom are committed to cooperating with Australia through AUKUS on Australia’s acquisition of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines in a way that sets the highest nonproliferation standard, and we look forward to speaking on this topic in more detail under the relevant agenda item.
With these remarks, the United States is pleased to take note of the Safeguards Implementation Report and agrees with the Agency’s request for release of both the Safeguards Statement for 2022 and the Background to the Safeguards Statement and Summary.
Thank you, Chair.