You are here

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by Secretary Bodman

Good morning.  I'm Sam Bodman, the United States Secretary of Energy.  First, I want to thank you all for coming here today for this momentous occasion.

At the first Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Ministerial in May, I said I hoped we would be "laying the groundwork for a new global nuclear power partnership; an international approach that allows developed and developing nations alike to share in (nuclear power's) benefits securely and peacefully."

What started with the five leading fuel states - the People's Republic of China, France, Japan, Russia, and the U.S. - coming together in a cooperative spirit for the purpose of making the world a better place has already grown into a viable, international commitment.

Our meeting today indicates my hopes - our hopes - for the future are closer to being realized.

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership - or GNEP -- is not an exclusive club.  It is an equal and voluntary partnership, open to all nations who share our common vision and who agree to internationally accepted standards for a safe, peaceful and secure nuclear fuel cycle.

I have met personally with representatives from many countries who traveled to Washington, DC to discuss their interest in GNEP.  Others at the U.S. Department of Energy have met with still more.

Our task today is to formally commit to the principles espoused by GNEP and to begin discussions with like-minded countries that seek to develop civilian nuclear power in a safe and secure manner and who, not coincidentally, have been reaching out to us.

Since the last ministerial, the partners have worked to expand upon the Joint Statement and to increase the membership.  Many nations and intergovernmental organizations were invited to be here.

I am pleased to announce that 38 countries and three key intergovernmental organizations are represented here today.  These countries represent every region and stage of nuclear power development around the world.

At the conclusion of our opening session, many of the countries represented here will become full partners in this endeavor and sign the GNEP Statement of Principles -- the foundation of our viable and growing partnership.

These principles put us on a path toward cooperation on a series of key issues:

  • the need to deal with waste materials in a responsible manner;
  • the costs involved with developing the necessary infrastructure;
  • the need to develop and deploy technologies that will increase the efficiency of the fuel cycle; and,
  • the risks posed by the potential for proliferation of nuclear materials and sensitive technologies.

But we are here to do more than that.  It is my hope that, as the day moves forward, we can engage in a serious and thoughtful discussion of key issues including the problems surrounding the construction of the necessary infrastructures and the need for a reliable fuel supply.

We have also scheduled a roundtable in which everyone here -- members and observers alike - can participate for the purpose of sharing thoughts and identifying questions everyone may have.

The final session, which is for GNEP members only, will deal with issues of GNEP's structure and organization -- in a word, its governance.

It is important that we retain a focus on the reason we are here.  We are engaged in a unique undertaking, one that joins governments of the East and West, North and South in the pursuit of a common goal: the safe expansion of nuclear power around the world.

The United States Energy Information Administration projects that the global demand for electricity will come close to doubling by the year 2030.  Demand in developing nations will increase by almost 150 percent.  I expect your energy forecasting agencies predict much the same thing.

As I think we can all agree, reliable supplies of electricity that are affordable to end users and cost-effective to produce are a vital prerequisite for economic expansion.

More than ever before, energy is a global commodity. Energy production, and its impact on the environment, is a global issue we all face today.

Together, we must find ways to foster continued economic growth to raise world living standards while being responsible stewards of the environment through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

To put it simply, the world needs GNEP.  Renewable energy - wind, solar, geothermal and fuels made from biomass - are part of the solution.  But, as we have already learned in the United States, they are not sufficient to meet the challenge.

Together we will continue to develop this partnership -- and we have great interest in helping advance its development in other countries, particularly in the developing world.

But we must face the central fact that nuclear power is the only mature technology able today to supply sufficiently large amounts of emissions-free base load power to the world to meet the projected growth in demand for electricity.

The more countries that join GNEP, the more likely that policy and technical solutions can be developed to address concerns facing the leaders of our respective countries.

We face similar, clearly global problems: increasing energy demand, climate change, reducing proliferation concerns, ensuring delivery of sustainable, cost effective electricity and sustaining economic development.

Through GNEP, we can work together to support the expansion of nuclear power while encouraging a closed fuel cycle to minimize waste and radioactivity as well as effectively manage global nuclear resources.

Through GNEP we can pursue advanced technologies for recycling spent nuclear fuel that meet our energy and nonproliferation goals.

Through GNEP we can incorporate the highest levels of safety, security and safeguards, while working to address proliferation concerns and ensure that materials and technologies utilized in the civilian fuel cycle are used only for peaceful purposes.

I look forward to our discussion throughout the day.  Global challenges require global solutions.  GNEP is a global solution, one that holds within it the potential to better the lives of all mankind.

Thank you.

Media contact(s):

Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940