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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2002

Safety and Security of Peaceful Nuclear Programs

Ambassador Norman A. Wulf, Representative of the U.S. to the First Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT RevCon
Remarks to the First Meeting of the Preparatory Committee
New York, New York
April 17, 2002

Mr. Chairman, my fellow delegates. It is fitting that this first major gathering of states parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] since the 11th of September 2001 takes this special time to address the issue of promoting the "Safety and Security of Peaceful Nuclear Programs."

It is widely recognized that the NPT rests on three pillars: nuclear nonproliferation, the pursuit of disarmament, and the right of all responsible Parties to the Treaty to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This third pillar promises that the populations of states parties can share in nuclear energy's many benefits, ranging from medical, agricultural and environmental to energy-production. This right comes with an obligation to abide by and support the nonproliferation articles of the Treaty. In order to sustain peaceful nuclear cooperation, each state party must ensure the safety and security of the nuclear facilities and materials it uses for peaceful purposes.

The 11th of September manifested the gravity of this responsibility. The terrorists who piloted two commercial airplanes loaded with innocent passengers into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers did so without hesitation or remorse and took the lives of thousands of innocent people. They signaled their complete disregard for the sanctity of human life and their eagerness to exploit the achievements of modern technology to destroy all they could in our society. Their attack was not aimed only at my country. It was directed at all of us who respect the worth of each person, who seek -- as we do here -- constructive dialogue among nations, and who pursue the peaceful development of technology for its promise of a richer and fuller life for all humankind.

Their attack was a warning. We must understand that our peaceful nuclear programs offer a potentially attractive target for terrorists. While we cannot be alarmists, we also cannot ignore the allure that these programs might present to those willing to subvert modern technology for brutal disruption. Following the attacks of September 11th, we must recognize that terrorists might target a nuclear facility or attempt to construct a crude nuclear weapon or radiological dispersion device. All of us must take seriously our responsibility to protect nuclear facilities and materials.

This is not a threat faced only by some countries. It is a truly global problem that joins us all. None of us wants to be the "weakest link" in the chain of safe and secure peaceful nuclear programs. None of us wants to be the target of terrorist exploitation of these programs. We will all suffer from a failure to keep our peaceful nuclear programs safe and secure. Those countries least able to deal with the consequences will be affected the most.

The ways to meet this responsibility are clear. First and foremost, there must be full compliance with the letter and spirit of Articles I and II of the NPT. Ineffective controls over nuclear-related exports might help terrorist groups acquire the components of a nuclear explosive or dispersal device. Irresponsible governments have found loopholes in these controls; there is no reason to believe terrorists could not do the same.

Second, the IAEA safeguards required under Article III of the NPT must provide strong verification of non-nuclear weapon states' nonproliferation undertakings. Because they help protect against the diversion of nuclear materials, safeguards remain the critical first line of defense against nuclear terrorism. A strong safeguards system and an IAEA with sufficient resources to implement it are the first barrier to terrorist exploitation of these materials. Fundamental to safeguards and their ability to protect against both proliferation and nuclear terrorism are the accuracy and integrity of state systems of accounting and control.

Third, all states must ensure effective physical protection for their nuclear facilities and materials. All states must address potential threats to these facilities and materials, particularly the threats of seizure of nuclear material and sabotage. They must be attentive to physical protection in all its aspects ranging from the legal and regulatory to the facility level. One fundamental step we can all take now to strengthen physical protection is to support the revision of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials on the basis of the May 2001 Expert Meeting recommendation.

Finally, we need to secure our borders against illicit trafficking in both nuclear materials and radiological sources. Within our borders, we must focus on the safety and security of radiological sources, particularly high-activity and highly dispersible sources. These sources must be kept under control, and in cases where control has been lost we must seek to recover and secure them.

Each of us bears primary responsibility for the safety and security of our peaceful nuclear programs. But this is not a responsibility we need to bear alone. The NPT urges states to cooperate in peaceful nuclear endeavors, whether bilaterally, in conjunction with groups of states, or through international organizations. In the face of the enhanced threat of nuclear terrorism, existing cooperation should be further expanded. We should take advantage of the benefits -- developmental, economic, educational -- that cooperation in safety and security offers.

There are many opportunities to expand our cooperation in safety and security. Let me discuss two.

First, programs pursued by the International Atomic Energy Agency make an invaluable contribution to enhanced safe and secure nuclear programs. The Agency responded quickly and adroitly when September 11th made clear the need to strengthen efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism. The United States welcomed IAEA Director General El Baradeiís review of existing IAEA programs in the light of this enhanced threat. This review was effective in setting priorities, identifying programs that need broadening, and proposing new programs where needed. My Government commends the Director General for gathering Member State input on these proposals and incorporating it into a comprehensive anti-terrorism program. We are pleased that the IAEA Board of Governors last month approved this program. In support of this work, the United States has already pledged over $2 million.

The Representative of the IAEA has touched upon ways the Agency can provide assistance in safe and secure peaceful nuclear programs. But let me highlight a few examples that build on strengths of the Agency, including providing expert advice and training, facilitating exchange of information, coordinating bilateral support, and defining material security standards.

The IAEA proposes increasing the number and scope of its International Physical Protection Advisory Service, or IPPAS, missions. These missions, made at the request of member states, allow them to benefit from international expertise in assessing their regulatory framework and physical protection systems. The IAEA proposes broadening this program to provide follow-up missions and assistance as needed in implementing identified improvements. We encourage member states to request these services.

In addition, the Agency proposes increased training related to physical protection, state systems of accounting and control, and the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive materials. This training offers the possibility of creating a cadre of workers in member states well versed in both safety and security. We encourage these efforts, particularly in training tailored to specific physical protection issues and regional needs. We encourage member states to take advantage of this opportunity.

Finally, the IAEA proposes expanding its capabilities to assist states in locating and securing so-called "orphan sources." These highly radioactive materials, which serve vital roles in fields such as medicine, agriculture, and food safety, become "orphaned" when they are lost or abandoned. On their own, some orphan sources can pose a serious risk to human health and the environment. In the hands of terrorists, they may become a weapon of disruption if not death. Recent events have proven how effective the Agency can be in assisting states to regain control over orphan sources. The Agency can provide expert advice and assistance in securing orphan sources, as well as training, advice, and assistance in preparing for emergency response.

Like the IAEA, U.S. efforts to encourage safe and secure peaceful nuclear cooperation predate the NPT. They find their origins in the "Atoms for Peace" program begun by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Efforts begun in Atoms for Peace have increased to include today a wide variety of programs, particularly in the area of physical protection. Many of them are conducted in cooperation with the IAEA and other states. By expanding knowledge and expertise in this area, these programs benefit all parties involved.

Since 1974, the United States has engaged in bilateral visits and technical exchanges on physical protection with over forty countries to which it has provided U.S.-origin nuclear material. Since 1978, my country has worked with the IAEA to develop and present training courses in both the physical protection of nuclear material and state systems of accounting and control of nuclear material. These courses have provided training to government regulators and facility operators from over sixty countries to help them reduce the risk of both theft and sabotage of nuclear materials. My country has also worked with other states and the IAEA to develop methodologies to help states assess threats to their physical protection systems.

Finally, since the creation of IPPAS in 1995, U.S. experts have participated in missions to ten states and assisted five of those states in making improvements based on the missions' findings.

The United States devotes considerable diplomatic and financial resources to encourage other nations to strengthen their export controls. U.S. bilateral assistance in this area ranges from help in establishing the necessary regulatory and legal framework to provision of detection equipment and training that tightens border controls. Other programs such as the effort to reduce inventories worldwide of high-enriched uranium fuel also contribute to reducing the potential for theft of weapons-usable nuclear material. More than 50 foreign reactors using U.S.-supplied fuel have already ceased their use of high-enriched uranium fuel or will do so in the near future. Many of these reactors have been converted to the use of low enriched uranium fuel.

For almost ten years, the United States has worked with Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union to prevent the theft or loss of nuclear material. These programs in nuclear materials protection, control, and accounting are also central to our defense against nuclear terrorism. In addition to keeping nuclear material secure within authorized facilities, this effort has been expanded recently to address nuclear smuggling. The United States and Russia also continue to work on the security and disposition of fissile material removed from military programs to ensure it is no longer usable in nuclear weapons.

Mr. Chairman. In closing, let me express my satisfaction that we have taken this special time to consider the safety and security of our peaceful nuclear programs. In the light of September 11th, we must be cognizant of the enhanced threat to all of us. We must be mindful of our responsibilities to our citizens and to each other to ensure the safety and security of our nuclear programs. We welcome the IAEA's recognition of this enhanced threat and its efforts to tailor its programs to respond to it. We must ensure that all member states are aware of the assets the IAEA makes available to them and encourage full use of them.

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