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Public Statements

Statement to the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security

By:
Date:
Location: Vienna, Austria

I want to acknowledge Director General Amano and the President of the Conference, Foreign Minister Martonyi, for their dedicated efforts in organizing this important conference.

I also want to express my gratitude to my fellow ministers for their commitment to the issue at hand and for taking the time to engage personally in this serious discussion.

In the past two weeks, President Obama has given major speeches on two of the greatest challenges facing us today: in Berlin on nuclear security and in Washington on climate change.

These topics are linked by more than timing; nuclear energy is a key part of addressing climate change, and ensuring nuclear security is integral to the expansion of carbon-free nuclear generation.

On climate change, President Obama has laid out an ambitious plan to reduce carbon pollution and begin combating the effects of a warming planet.

A changing climate is a threat-multiplier; from more severe droughts and fires to intensifying storms, the costs are large both in terms of lives lost and money needed to rebuild, and breeding grounds for terrorists can emerge along with weakened national governance.

With energy demand increasing rapidly in India, China, throughout parts of Africa, and elsewhere around the globe, the need for clean energy is rising like never before.

Nuclear energy can and should be part of the solution. But if we are to take advantage of nuclear energy as part of a low-carbon economy, we must also address the challenges of nuclear security. In Berlin, President Obama echoed the vision he first laid out in his 2009 Prague speech: the need to secure vulnerable materials, decrease the number of nuclear weapons, and build a sustainable and secure nuclear energy industry.

President Obama called on the global community to build a new international framework for peaceful nuclear power, and announced his intention to host another Nuclear Security Summit in the United States in 2016.

Over the last four years, the United States has dedicated itself to a collaborative effort with the IAEA and the rest of the international community to enhance our joint efforts on nuclear security.

Starting with the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., we have made important progress together:

Working with our Russian counterparts under the New START Treaty, we are reducing our number of deployed strategic warheads to the lowest level since the 1950s. In his Berlin speech, the President announced his intention to engage Russia on reductions of up to a third beyond New START, and to discuss reductions in tactical weapons as well.
Over the last four years, we have continued the strong collaboration with our Russian partners to down-blend 120,000 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Russian weapons -- converting it to peaceful uses as U.S. nuclear power reactor fuel.
U.S. nuclear security teams, frequently in cooperation with their Russian counterparts, have worked with governments around the world to remove 1,340 kilograms of highly enriched uranium and 35 kilograms of plutonium from vulnerable sites throughout the world-- including removing all highly enriched uranium from ten countries. We will mark another joint accomplishment this week.
And working shoulder-to-shoulder with the international community, we have improved the security and physical protection of facilities storing nuclear and radiological materials, enhanced the secure transport of such materials, and strengthened the worldwide capacity to combat the illicit trafficking of these materials.
Over the last four years, many of the most immediate priorities that we identified have been addressed, but we must not lose sight of the critical long-term priorities that require continued vigilance and increased focus.

We must ensure the highest standards of security at nuclear and radiological facilities and combat the illicit trafficking of sensitive materials.

Al-Qa'ida has tried for over a decade to acquire nuclear materials for a weapon, and despite the strides we have made in dismantling core al-Qa'ida we should expect its adherents -- as well as other violent extremists with a variety of agendas -- to continue trying to achieve their nuclear ambitions.

The threat of nuclear terrorism is real and serious, and it will endure for the foreseeable future. Strengthening global nuclear security everywhere is one of the most important ways to reduce this threat.

The IAEA plays a unique role in supporting global nuclear security.

That is why, even during a time of fiscal challenges, the United States supports increased resources for all pillars of the IAEA's work, including technical cooperation, nuclear safety and security, and safeguards.

And at this International Nuclear Security Conference we call on IAEA Member states to recommit to a sustained effort for a stronger nuclear security architecture, as will be reaffirmed in the Ministerial Statement.

For the United States, we will sustain our support for the IAEA and its mission and remain dedicated to seeing the international community reach the necessary nuclear security goals we have set for ourselves.

The United States also remains committed to the IAEA's efforts to develop international standards on nuclear and radiological security, and hopes to see those strengthened and implemented.

We also remain committed to joining and promoting international instruments such as the amended Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, and we are seeking Senate action to complete our domestic implementation procedures as soon as possible.

The United States also understands that nuclear security starts at home. The U.S remains committed to the highest levels of security at our facilities.

While no sensitive material was in immediate danger, the fact that one year ago three individuals could approach and deface the exterior of a facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex -- where the United States stores highly enriched uranium -- is unacceptable.

We have made -- and will continue to make -- important changes to ensure that these types of events do not happen again.

The humbling experience of having to deal with our own shortcomings offers broad lessons that can be applied beyond the Department of Energy and the United States, and we will continue to share our lessons learned.

For example, later this year, the United States will host its first IAEA-led International Physical Protection Advisory Service mission to one of our nuclear facilities.

In closing, we are committed to fostering the safe and secure contribution of nuclear power to the global energy mix, to taking concrete actions that eliminate nuclear weapons stockpiles, and to controlling nuclear and radiological materials.

I look forward to working tirelessly with colleagues around the world to tackle these complex and pressing issues. And, once again, will support strongly the critical IAEA efforts in this regard.


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