Vienna, Austria
Monday, September 26, 2022

It is an honor to join this group of esteemed diplomats today. Let me begin with a message from the President of the United States, Joe Biden:

This year’s General Conference arrives at a defining moment in history.

We face an existential climate crisis; fast-paced technological innovation; and Russia’s brutal and unnecessary invasion of Ukraine.

We can tackle these challenges by building on the work done at the Tenth Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and working with the IAEA to promote nonproliferation, safety, and security standards as we advance peaceful applications of the atom.

My Administration is dedicated to re-establishing U.S. leadership in nuclear energy as we tackle the climate crisis. We seek to establish the Additional Protocol as a universal standard for nuclear supply arrangements, while also limiting the spread of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

That’s why we are working closely with the IAEA to ensure that the AUKUS partnership among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States meets the highest nonproliferation standard.

Strengthening nuclear and radioactive material security is one of my Administration’s highest priorities and I look forward to working with the IAEA to continue our collective efforts to counter weapons of mass destruction, thwart terrorism, and improve nuclear and radioactive material security practices. The United States is committed to working with partners worldwide to secure these materials and further reduce the threats of nuclear and radiological terrorism.

Our efforts to promote responsible nuclear stewardship stand in stark contrast to Russia’s recent reckless and irresponsible words and actions.

After weeks of good-faith negotiations from the international community, Russia blocked consensus on a final document at the NPT Review Conference. Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities casts doubt upon Moscow’s commitment to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and undermines its credibility as a nuclear energy supplier. And the Kremlin has repeatedly made overt nuclear threats against Europe.

My Administration reaffirms our support for Director General Grossi’s Seven Pillars of nuclear safety and security, and we call on Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine—and cease military activity at and near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. I am grateful for the professionalism and dedication of Ukrainian operators at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and for their efforts to ensure the plant remains safe under difficult circumstances.

In this time of great upheaval, we must provide unequivocal support—through our words and our resources—for the international nonproliferation regime and for the IAEA’s indispensable role in addressing global challenges.

The Biden-Harris administration believes that our collective climate security and energy security will grow alongside innovation and expansion in civil nuclear power.

Nuclear offers our best source of carbon-free baseload power today. It is safe, clean, and reliable. Advances in nuclear technology will help us increase global energy capacity to meet rising electricity needs without fossil fuels—clearing a pathway to a net-zero world. And for those countries held hostage by Russian fossil fuels right now, nuclear power—freed of Russian supply chains—is part of the solution to sever that dependence.

That is why President Biden’s agenda invests billions in the U.S. Department of Energy to ramp up development and demonstration of next-generation reactors.

We look forward to showcasing our efforts for all of you at the IAEA’s fifth International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power next month in Washington, D.C.

Of course, as we encourage an expansion of civil nuclear power, the United States will also uphold the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation.

In that spirit, I will close by reiterating our unwavering support for the Government and the People of Ukraine, and our commitment to the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities amid Russia’s barbaric invasion. 

I wish all delegations well as we work to strengthen the role of the IAEA, preserve our shared values, and prepare for a new generation of peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology.