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Cluster 3: Nonproliferation -- Responsible Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation

Christopher Ford, U.S. Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation
Statement at 2008 Preparatory Committee for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Palais des Nations, Geneva
May 7, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, we stand poised before a global expansion in the use of nuclear energy, a proven technology that will be an essential component in meeting the world’s growing energy demands, while minimizing the negative impacts from fossil fuel usage. As President Bush and Russian President Putin jointly declared on July 3, 2007, “we share a common vision of growth in the use of nuclear energy, including in developing countries, to increase the supply of electricity, promote economic growth and development, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, resulting in decreased pollution and greenhouse gases.”

In fact, the world is facing numerous other challenges where nuclear science can have a positive impact. Nuclear applications to the fields of agriculture and food production, environmental technology, water resource management, and medical research and treatment will provide important benefits to ensure that global further development proceeds in a sustainable, peaceful, and equitable manner. Whether with respect to coping with a widespread food crisis, the medical needs of ageing populations, scarcity of fresh water resources, or many other challenges, nuclear technology can help provide keys to a better future for all mankind.

Clearly, Mr. Chairman, there is a widely renewed interest in the use of civil nuclear energy, and a great interest in and need for the benefits of nuclear applications.

Responsible Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation under the NPT

As noted in Article IV of the NPT, all States Party have an “inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.” Article I obligates nuclear-weapon States Party not to transfer, to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and not to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon state to manufacture or otherwise acquire such weapons or devices. Article II obligates non-nuclear-weapon States Party not to receive, manufacture, or otherwise acquire, or seek or receive assistance in the manufacture of, nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the States Party agreed at the 2000 Review Conference that peaceful use rights must be exercised in conformity with Article III, which requires the application of IAEA safeguards on “all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of [each non-nuclear-weapon State Party], under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere.” In addition, Article IV specifies that all States Party “undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

The NPT fosters the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by providing a framework of confidence that is essential to enable cooperation in those uses. Nonproliferation requirements and mechanisms – most prominently, compliance with Articles I, II, and III of the Treaty, compliance with IAEA safeguards agreements and the Additional Protocol, and compliance with international agreements on nuclear safety and security – lay the foundation for international nuclear cooperation by ensuring that nuclear materials and facilities are used safely and securely and do not contribute to weapons proliferation. Indeed, nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation are the three indispensable requirements for peaceful nuclear development and cooperation.

Joint Declaration on Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation

Mr. Chairman, President Bush has strongly declared his determination to play an active role in making the advantages of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy available to a wide range of interested states, in particular developing countries, in ways consistent with the common goal of the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation. Last July, Presidents Bush and Putin issued a “Joint Declaration on Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation” in which they laid out a new format for nuclear cooperation intended to offer more countries the benefits of nuclear power, and to create a viable alternative to the acquisition of sensitive fuel cycle technologies.

This declaration laid out a number of means – including the development of human resources and other infrastructure, the facilitation of nuclear plant financing, and the management of spent fuel – through which the United States and Russia are prepared to work with other countries with advanced nuclear technologies to assist in the development of nuclear energy worldwide, following the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation. Moreover, as part of last month’s “U.S.-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration” in Sochi, Russia, Presidents Bush and Putin re-committed our countries to providing global leadership on a wide range of cooperative efforts that will advance our common nonproliferation goals and promote the expansion of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Infrastructure Development

Mr. Chairman, the United States is committed to addressing the nuclear infrastructure needs of developing countries. By infrastructure, I mean the development of laws, regulations, human resources, financing, the construction and safe operation of nuclear power plants, and the responsible handling of nuclear materials. The safe and secure development of nuclear energy and beneficial uses of nuclear materials requires these elements.

The United States was one of the moving forces behind the IAEA General Conference resolutions in 2006 and 2007 supporting the Agency’s role in nuclear power development, and we were the largest technical and financial contributor to the December 2006 and November 2007 workshops addressing the introduction of nuclear power in emerging nuclear energy states. At the latter, the IAEA, with broad Member State input, finalized its guidance document, “Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power.” This guidance document is designed to help new nuclear energy states understand the complexities involved in responsibly pursuing nuclear energy, including the long lead times needed, while simultaneously providing them a roadmap for moving ahead.

I want to be clear on the purpose of these Milestones. It is not to create obstacles to the implementation of nuclear power. Those obstacles – the political, technical and financial as well as safety, security and safeguards – exist in any case. The Milestones are intended to provide clear guidance to help states overcome those obstacles and achieve the benefits of nuclear power, safely and securely.

The United States has also long been the single largest contributor to the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation (TC) program. As part of our annual voluntary contribution, my government pledged $20.2 million to support the program in Fiscal Year 2007, approximately 25 percent of the program’s target funding. The United States also provided an additional $4.3 million in in-kind and extra-budgetary contributions in 2007 to other non-safeguards-, security-, or safety-related programs. Through the TC and TC-related programs, the United States provides assistance to over 100 IAEA member states in all of the aforementioned applications of nuclear technology, including health care and nutrition, water resources, food security, sustainable development, basic science, and nuclear safety, emergency preparedness and security.

Mr. Chairman, my delegation has distributed to many other delegations copies of handouts detailing the many ways – both bilaterally and through multinational institutions such as the IAEA – the United States has been supporting international nuclear cooperation projects in dozens of countries around the world. We are proud to be at the forefront of such work, and I wish draw attention to those many endeavors here today.

Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel

Mr. Chairman, in their Joint Declaration of July 3, 2007, Presidents Bush and Putin also noted that states should be “assured of reliable access to nuclear fuel and fuel services for the lifetime of reactors, including through establishment of international nuclear fuel cycle centers, to provide nuclear fuel cycle services, including uranium enrichment, under IAEA safeguards.” The United States firmly believes that the establishment of a mechanism at the IAEA for reliable access to nuclear fuel will be an important step to enhance confidence in the unlikely event that there would be a disruption in the market for countries considering nuclear energy.

A backup mechanism in case of disruption can contribute to the expansion of nuclear power worldwide while providing a viable alternative to the spread of sensitive fuel cycle technologies. The choice not to take any particular path, of course, would be voluntary and would not inhibit the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The United States continues to support the efforts to develop diverse mechanisms to provide a backup to the provision of nuclear fuel for the safe and secure development of nuclear energy while minimizing proliferation risk. The United States has made great strides to assist these efforts, including by down-blending highly enriched uranium for use as a nuclear fuel reserve. This work has begun and should be completed by 2010. Material for the first core load will likely be ready by the end of this year. In addition, the U.S. Congress has appropriated $50 million in support of a challenge grant, proposed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, for the establishment of an IAEA-administered nuclear fuel bank. We encourage members to contribute funds to support this initiative.

Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

To extend the benefits of nuclear power to more states, as well as to manage the nonproliferation, waste management, and other challenges of nuclear growth, the United States initiated the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) in 2006. To date, twenty other states have joined us as partners in this initiative. GNEP is designed to address the key challenges and obstacles facing nuclear power, particularly the challenges of spent fuel management and closing the nuclear fuel cycle in a more proliferation resistant way.

The GNEP vision calls for a new and innovative fuel services regime, consolidating both assured fuel supply and spent fuel take-back services – that is, the front and back ends of the fuel cycle – into a comprehensive package. Fuel leasing is one proposed model, for example, under which the supplier would retain ownership of fresh and spent fuel supplied to the user.

Another key element of GNEP that promises to further the objectives of NPT Article IV is the development of new reactors better suited to the needs and capacities of developing countries. For states that have smaller or relatively isolated electric grids, the 1,000-megawatt and larger reactors currently in use in many industrial countries may not be useful. Additionally, some developing countries may lack the infrastructure and technical capacity to regulate and operate such large-scale reactors. Under GNEP, the United States is considering features that could be designed into exported power reactors to make them operationally safer, more secure, and more proliferation resistant.

Finally, since strong IAEA safeguards will be necessary to facilitate the expansion of nuclear power, the United States is pursuing innovations in safeguards. We are committed to revitalizing the safeguards technology base and to building the next generation of safeguards expertise necessary to reinforce international confidence in peaceful nuclear cooperation.


Mr. Chairman, the United States believes that the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and other nuclear applications will have an important role to play in meeting 21st Century global challenges of growth and development. We are fully committed to responsible peaceful nuclear cooperation, and to advancing the objectives of Article IV of the NPT. We live out this commitment every day in our extraordinary contributions to peaceful nuclear cooperation, and we are building a better future for such cooperation through our work to assist infrastructure development, ensure reliable access to fuel supplies, develop technology and safeguards approaches optimized for 21st Century requirements and the needs of the developing world, and improved ways to accomplish all this in ways consistent with the requirements of nonproliferation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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