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Thank you, Ambassador Azeez. Congratulations on your election as President of this Conference. I also want to thank Director General Amano for his outstanding leadership.
I am honored to lead the U.S. delegation to this year’s General Conference, and I want to first share a message from President Obama:
“I send greetings as you convene for the 58th International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference.
The IAEA’s work is more important than ever, and its steadfast efforts to promote the safe, secure, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy continue to reinforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As we look forward to next year’s NPT Review Conference, we must ensure the Agency has the necessary resources to fulfill its enduring mandate and continue effectively exercising its authority to address issues of noncompliance.
The United States remains committed to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons and is taking substantial steps to achieve it. We have reduced the number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy. We continue to work successfully with Russia to implement the New START Treaty, decreasing our deployed strategic warheads to the lowest levels in nearly 60 years. And we have reduced the U.S. nuclear stockpile by 85 percent since its Cold War peak. But there is still more work to do. As I reiterated in Berlin last year, the United States is committed to moving beyond Cold War nuclear postures and continuing a step-by-step process to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles.
We welcome the IAEA’s work of assisting Member States to enhance the regulatory infrastructure for nuclear safety and to secure nuclear materials to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. I will host the fourth Nuclear Security Summit in 2016, and I look forward to the IAEA’s participation. The Agency has a critical role to play in the global nuclear security architecture, which will endure beyond the Summits.
The United States is the leading contributor to IAEA nuclear assistance programs and has exceeded its pledge of $50 million for the Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI). These PUI programs have addressed the sustainable development needs of over 120 Member States in areas including human health, water resource management, food security, environmental protection, and nuclear power infrastructure development. I encourage more Member States to join in contributing to the PUI, which is a vital initiative.
We can meet the challenges ahead if we focus our efforts on our shared interest in building the safer, more secure world we all seek. Let us work together at this conference to make real progress on promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy, strengthening safeguards, and preventing proliferation. I wish everyone all the best for a successful conference.”
Mr. President, in May of this year, President Obama spoke at the United States Military Academy and called for “evolving … international institutions to meet the demands of today” and stressed that dynamic international organizations can serve as “force multipliers.”
With climate change posing the most pressing challenge of our generation, and nuclear energy as an important low carbon energy source, we need the IAEA and other international institutions to help meet this threat, safely and securely.
Responding to the conclusive findings of the global scientific community, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare the United States for the impacts of a changing climate, and lead international efforts to combat it.
Strong global action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address their impacts on climate and development. Smart climate policies can drive cleaner growth, resulting in a range of economic and social benefits.
President Obama has made clear that nuclear energy is an important part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy. We know there will be challenges: there are five new reactors under construction right now in the United States, but we also expect a number of plants to be decommissioned in the coming decades. If most nuclear power plants are retired at 60 years, we will see many retirements starting in 2030. We will need to know within a decade how new nuclear energy sources can play a major part in the clean energy solution.
As we look collectively at the challenge of reducing carbon pollution, the IAEA and its Member States must work tirelessly to limit the risks of nuclear accidents, protect against nuclear terrorism, prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and move toward disarmament.
Let me address five areas: peaceful cooperation; safety; security; non-proliferation; and disarmament.
Mr. President, promoting peaceful nuclear energy is fundamental to both the NPT and the IAEA Statute. We strongly support the Agency’s efforts in assisting interested Member States in developing the necessary infrastructure for the safe and secure deployment of nuclear power.
The United States is pleased to be part of a partnership of at least 18 IAEA Member States and the European Union that have supported the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative. Together we have provided about $73 million in contributions toward the five-year goal of raising $100 million for the PUI before the 2015 NPT Review Conference. With the help of all Member States, we can achieve our goal.
The United States is pleased that the Board of Governors approved the extension of the Agreement for Cooperation between the IAEA and the United States for an additional 40 years. Since 1959, this agreement has allowed the United States to provide nuclear material and technology to 28 IAEA Member States.
To provide assurance that states will be able to obtain nuclear fuel to operate their reactors, the United States strongly supports the establishment of the IAEA LEU Fuel Bank, and thanks the Republic of Kazakhstan and the IAEA for their efforts to establish the LEU Bank. The security of the fuel supply is important for our collective nonproliferation efforts.
Enhancing nuclear safety to protect human life and the environment remains an enduring goal.
In partnership with our nuclear industry, the U.S. Government is supporting the deployment of passively safe reactors both in the United States and around the world. By incorporating passive systems into the large Gen III designs, and the new small modular reactors (SMR) being pursued today, the world has a broader set of options for safe, reliable nuclear energy.
The Department of Energy has issued $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to support the construction of two passively safe reactors at the Plant Vogtle in Georgia. We have partnered with U.S. industry to support two small modular reactor designs through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing process and we expect these designs to be deployed early in the next decade.
We are also working toward a next-generation nuclear fuel that will combine higher performance with greater tolerance for extreme events, thus giving operators additional time to respond to unforeseen conditions. This year we’ve entered into strong partnerships with national laboratories, universities, and industry and we are very pleased with the leadership role of the OECD-Nuclear Energy Agency and the IAEA in expanding international involvement in these efforts.
It also is critical that we remain prepared to address accidents quickly and effectively, and that liability issues are handled through mechanisms based on treaty relations.
To that end, the United States has been a strong supporter of a global nuclear liability regime based on the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, or CSC.
During the last year, significant progress has been made towards that goal, with the ratification of the CSC by the UAE, and the announcements by Canada and Japan that they intend to ratify the CSC. These ratifications would bring the CSC into force, creating a regime with members on five continents and almost doubling the number of civil nuclear power plants covered by nuclear liability treaties.
Mr. President, the need to secure nuclear and other radioactive material is enduring. All stakeholders must continue to work together to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.
The United States is committed to partnering with other countries and the IAEA to secure and protect these materials, consolidate them into fewer locations, and eliminate opportunities for terrorists to acquire them. Real progress continues each day.
Since the last General Conference, we reached an agreement with Japan to remove all HEU and plutonium from its Fast Critical Assembly.
Since 2009, the United States has partnered with 26 countries and Taiwan to eliminate more than 3,000 kilograms of HEU and plutonium – enough material for well over100 nuclear weapons – and has eliminated all HEU from 12 countries.
I am also happy to announce that we just completed another shipment of HEU from Poland in cooperation with our Russian counterparts, making Poland one step closer to being HEU free.
Since the last General Conference, the United States successfully hosted an IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Center for Neutron Research - a Category 1 site in the United States. It is through mechanisms such as these that countries are able to provide a level of confidence to the international community that they are taking nuclear security within their borders seriously.
In the area of radiological security, the United States has committed to work jointly with France, the Netherlands and Germany to establish a roadmap of actions over the next two years to strengthen the international framework, support alternatives for radioactive sources, and enhance efforts of source supplier countries.
In March, the U.S. joined 34 other countries during The Hague Nuclear Security Summit in supporting an effort to demonstrate progress in improving nuclear security worldwide. Through a joint statement, we committed to subscribe to the IAEA nuclear security fundamentals and to meet the intent of the recommendations contained in the IAEA nuclear security series level documents, and the code of conduct in line with national laws and regulatory processes. All Member States should strive to achieve this objective to improve nuclear security practices globally.
We continue to support the need for a strengthened global nuclear security architecture consisting of legally binding instruments, multilateral institutions, voluntary collectives, and national actions. President Obama looks forward to hosting the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2016 to help advance this important goal for strengthening nuclear security.
Mr. President preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is one of our highest priorities. As Member States we cannot tolerate a failure to comply with legally binding obligations.
We commend the IAEA’s ongoing efforts to resolve all present and past issues of concern regarding Iran’s nuclear program. We also welcome the IAEA’s essential role in verifying Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Plan of Action. We call on Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA to resolve all outstanding issues, particularly those that give rise to concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
It remains essential for the Assad regime to fully cooperate with the IAEA to remedy its safeguards noncompliance. We call on Syria to provide such cooperation without delay, which must include access to all relevant locations, materials, and persons.
We call on the DPRK to take concrete steps to reaffirm and demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization, and engage in a credible diplomatic process to implement the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and come into compliance with its UN obligations. We commend the IAEA’s efforts to play an essential role in the DPRK’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
These cases demonstrate that the IAEA must have the access and resources to detect and investigate indications of undeclared nuclear programs. The United States believes that the combination of a comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA) and an Additional Protocol (AP) is the international standard for safeguards verification. We call on all States that have not yet done so to bring into force a CSA and an AP as soon as possible.
We also call on all Member States to strengthen their financial and technical support to IAEA safeguards, and we welcome the Agency’s continued efforts to make the implementation of safeguards more effective and efficient.
Mr. President, as we move closer to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the United States continues to fulfill its Article VI obligations by taking steps toward nuclear disarmament. We have reduced our nuclear weapons stockpile by over 26,000 warheads since its Cold War peak. Under the New START Treaty, U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads will reach their lowest levels since the 1950s.
We have disposed of excess weapons-origin fissile material by down-blending over 143 metric tons of HEU. And we remain firmly committed to eliminating 34 Metric Tons of weapons-origin plutonium under the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement under IAEA verification.
In May, the United States signed the Protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty, which provides legally-binding assurances not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against parties to that Treaty.
The five areas I have discussed -- peaceful nuclear cooperation; nuclear safety; nuclear security; non-proliferation; and disarmament are increasingly interdependent, complex and urgent. Within my own Department of Energy, we are creating a nuclear council of senior program leaders and advisors to address cross-cutting issues in such areas in support of our national policies and the shared interest of this conference in building a safer more secure world.
The present era is no less challenging than that which gave rise to the IAEA. From addressing the effects of climate change to preventing nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism, the challenges ahead are as serious as any we have faced in the last sixty years.
We must re-dedicate ourselves to reinforcing international organizations and cooperation. We must bolster the nonproliferation regime by respecting its rules and responsibilities. And we must strengthen the IAEA by ensuring it has sufficient financial resources, expertise, legal authorities and political support from its Member States.