About the Author: Ambassador Glyn T. Davies serves as the Permanent Representative of the United States to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Office in Vienna.
On Thursday, May 13, 2010, Ambassador Susan Burk, the President's Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation, and I joined Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Warren "Pete" Miller and Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Dr. Gregory Jaczko in a discussion on the sidelines of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) about U.S. support for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, one of the three "pillars" of the NPT. We were proud to highlight U.S. leadership in support of making peaceful uses of nuclear energy available, particularly in the developing world; to showcase some highlights of past and present civil nuclear cooperation; and to touch on some of our plans for the future. Our most recent initiative in this area was highlighted during Secretary Clinton's May 3 speech at the NPT General Debate. She announced a Presidential-led campaign to raise $100 million by the next NPT RevCon in 2015 for activities related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including health, cancer treatment, food and water security, and nuclear power infrastructure. The United States is pledging $50 million in new funding for this campaign and will work with international partners to match that amount. The United States has been, and remains, the largest single contributor to the IAEA's technical cooperation program and to the peaceful application of nuclear technologies. This year, the United States has contributed $21 million to the IAEA through the Technical Cooperation Fund.
Ambassador Susan Burk set the stage at Thursday's event. She explained that the U.S. commitment to peaceful uses of nuclear energy began with President Eisenhower's 1953 "Atoms for Peace” speech to the UN General Assembly. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which encouraged international nuclear cooperation and set U.S. standards for nuclear cooperation agreements, allowed the United States to implement the new “Atoms for Peace” policy. Today, the United States has cooperation agreements covering nearly 50 countries, and is engaged in more than 40 bilateral programs in safety, security, and safeguards around the world. Current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) projections suggest that global nuclear power capacity could more than double by 2030.
Ambassador Burk also emphasized President Obama's commitment to expanding peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as made clear during his 2009 speech in Prague, during which he called for a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation that would allow countries to "access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation” and highlighted the role of nuclear energy in combating climate change and advancing peace and opportunity for all.
The U.S. Government is leading the way, be it with cutting-edge technology development or by setting global standards in safety. Through our actions, the United States can assist other nations in harnessing the potential benefits of peaceful nuclear energy. Assistant Secretary Pete Miller, speaking second, highlighted the assistance that the multilateral Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) provides to nations that seek to develop the infrastructure necessary to host a nuclear power program. He also discussed the role that the U.S. Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI) will play in ensuring that the nonproliferation goals of NPT members remain a top priority.
Chairman Jaczko of the NRC focused on the importance of nuclear safety and discussing how the NRC is strengthening the regulatory regimes of our partners with emerging civil nuclear programs. The Chairman highlighted all the work that the NRC has done to reach out to developing nations and provide them with the assistance they need to ensure the safety of their future nuclear power plants. As nuclear power programs have evolved over the past few decades, the sharing of safety and security principles has generated global interest in those principles, and benefits the nuclear sector worldwide.
In my remarks, I explained the U.S. role in supporting the IAEA and its Technical Cooperation mission. First and foremost, the U.S. State Department is the source for the U.S. voluntary contribution to the IAEA, through which we provide more than 25 percent of all voluntary contributions to both the regular budget and the agency's Technical Cooperation Fund. Additionally, the Department of State's Office of Nuclear Energy, Safety, and Security leads negotiations of nuclear cooperation agreements and serves as the overall coordinator for our civil nuclear infrastructure outreach programs. Through support like this, we can demonstrate our commitment to peaceful use of nuclear power to both the IAEA and the world.
Under the grand bargain of the NPT, states agreed to give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons in exchange for access to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under safeguards, and the United States has been an active and generous partner in cooperation with more than 100 NPT parties in this effort. As the President said in Prague, nuclear energy is the right of every nation that renounces nuclear weapons, and "we must harness the power of nuclear energy on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change, and to advance peace and opportunity for all people."Want to learn more?
Visit the NRC's International Programs Webpage
Visit the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Webpage
Read President Obama's Statement on the start of the Review Conference
Read remarks by President Obama in Prague
Visit our NPT Homepage
Visit the UN's Review Conference Website