Energy Sec. Richardson at IAEA Conference Sept. 18
STATEMENT OF U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY BILL RICHARDSON
FORTY-FOURTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL
ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
September 18, 2000
Thank you, President Othman. Congratulations on your election. Our
entire Delegation looks forward to working with you, the distinguished
representatives of the member states here today, as well as with
Director General ElBaradei and the Secretariat.
Now, I have the honor of delivering a special message from President
Bill Clinton, which I'll now read.
MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT CLINTON
"On behalf of the American people, I extend greetings and best wishes
for a successful General Conference. I am struck by the extraordinary
developments and demands faced by this Agency in the seven years since
I first addressed this gathering. But look how far we have come. New
inspection capabilities were given to the IAEA after the crisis in
Iraq and a potentially devastating confrontation with the Democratic
Peoples' Republic of Korea was avoided. With regret we witnessed new
nuclear tests in 1998, but rejoiced in the successful review of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty earlier this year.
These events make clear our collective and unwavering interest in
curbing the awesome destructive power of nuclear technology and
directing it to peaceful ends. This is a task in which -- with the
IAEA's help -- we must succeed to avoid the terrible devastation that
would result if nuclear weapons were ever used again. If the IAEA did
not exist, we would have to create it. The IAEA needs strong and
consistent support from all of its member states. Let's devote our
best talent and the full resources we can to allow the IAEA to
continue its work. For a small investment, the IAEA returns
incalculable contributions to peace and security."
EINSTEIN'S ADMONITION: "WATCHFULNESS"
As President Clinton notes, much has changed over just eight years.
Still -- Plus ca change, Plus c'est la meme chose. It was more than
sixty years ago that Albert Einstein alerted U.S. President Franklin
D. Roosevelt to new research involving uranium that offered
tantalizing prospects for human betterment, but that also called for
Of course, Professor Einstein's caveat was right. Nuclear energy, with
its promise to light the world and ease the miseries of poverty, also
harbors the power to destroy. This Agency is a monument to such
"watchfulness." Today, with the IAEA's assistance, nuclear power
plants provide heat and electricity to millions. Uses of atomic
science in medicine, agriculture, and environmental protection are
widespread. And the regime to beat back the spread of nuclear weaponry
is as strong as ever.
Still, we remain watchful. We cannot allow today's realities to lull
us from our attention to tomorrow's challenges.
Let me address these challenges in turn.
REDUCING NUCLEAR RISKS
The 1990's witnessed unprecedented progress in reducing global nuclear
risks. Ten years ago, the United States stockpiled thousands more
nuclear weapons than today. Today, our total stockpile of nuclear
weapons is roughly 60 percent lower than the Cold War peak, and still
deeper cuts are envisioned under START II and III.
Ten years ago, nuclear weapons tests were a regular fact of
international life. This is no more. The United States stands firmly
behind the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and will continue to work for
its ratification worldwide.
Ten years ago, the United States was producing fissile material for
nuclear weapons. This, too, is no more. It is far past time to end the
stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and get on with the
important work of completing a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.
And it is not enough to end new production of fissile material for
weapons. We must also improve controls on existing materials.
Universal acceptance of the Strengthened Safeguards Protocol remains a
top priority. We also need to continue locking-down nuclear materials
that pose special risks -- like those in the Democratic Peoples'
Republic of Korea, where U.S. Department of Energy and North Korean
specialists have readied many tons of plutonium-bearing spent fuel for
international safeguards. And finally, we need to monitor materials
freed by recent cuts in nuclear arms, protecting against a return to
the era of the arms race.
Today, I can report that we are near to completing the Verification
Agreement for the Trilateral Initiative. This Agreement will enable
the IAEA to verify that hundreds of tons of fissile materials removed
from U.S. and Russian military stockpiles never again return to
nuclear weapons. Our goal is to submit an Agreement to the IAEA Board
of Governors when it meets in December.
And there is more good news. Three weeks ago, U.S. Vice President Gore
and Russia's Prime Minister Kasyanov signed the Plutonium Management
and Disposition Agreement. This Agreement will result in the
destruction of 68 metric tons of U.S. and Russian weapons-grade
plutonium -- 34 metric tons each -- enough for thousands of nuclear
weapons. We fully expect the IAEA to play a role in monitoring this
Ten years ago, the U.S. and Soviet partnership to reduce nuclear
dangers was narrowly focused on formal treaties. Today, it is broadly
based and highly effective. Just consider our progress. In cooperation
with Russia and the Newly Independent States, we have improved the
physical security for more than 450 metric tons of plutonium and
highly enriched uranium, keeping it out of the hands of terrorists or
countries of proliferation concern. We have provided civilian
employment for more than 8,000 former Soviet weapons scientists and
engineers. We have secured 300 metric tons of spent fuel at the BN-350
breeder reactor in Kazakhstan -- three years ahead of schedule. And we
have accelerated purchases of Russian weapons uranium, converting more
than 80 metric tons of this material, roughly 30 metric tons more than
anticipated in the schedule of the U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement.
And our work goes on. In Russia two and a half weeks ago, I was proud
to participate in the inauguration of the new Sarov Technopark --
established under the Nuclear Cities Initiative that Russian Minister
Adamov and I launched in these halls two years ago. The Technopark
will partner former nuclear weapons workers with private industry,
speeding the conversion of facilities in Russia's nuclear weapons
complex to peaceful production.
While in Russia, I also went to the Far East, where I signed an
agreement with Admiral Kuroyedov, Commander-in-Chief of Russia's Navy,
expanding our cooperative work to better protect Russian naval nuclear
fuel from theft or diversion. Our nuclear material security
cooperation with the Russia Navy has been outstanding in both the Far
East and with Russia's Northern Fleet, which I visited at this time
last year. The Russian Navy has presented me with other submarine
assistance proposals, which are being examined now by the U.S.
government. We look forward to future cooperation with the Russian
PROMOTING THE SAFE USES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
Distinguished representatives, we must also devote our energies to
pursuing a framework for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
In the United States, we are revitalizing research and development, to
assure the cost competitiveness and viability of nuclear energy
through the next century.
Nuclear energy needs to be part of the global, clean energy mix. But
let's be candid. Communities and consumers worldwide must have
confidence that nuclear power reactors can be operated safely and
cheaply, and with due regard for nonproliferation and long-term
disposal of spent fuel and waste.
As Secretary of Energy, I have advanced the Nuclear Energy Research
Initiative and Generation IV Nuclear Power Systems Initiative to
develop new reactor designs that customers will find economical, safe,
proliferation-resistant, and that minimize production of nuclear
waste. This is not a job for any one country alone -- and today, I
signed an agreement with the government of France to advance reactor
technologies. The IAEA can also play a supporting role in this area.
We applaud the IAEA for helping more nations and more people to share
in the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We believe this role
should be strengthened. The United States will pay its full share to
the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Fund -- more than $18 million this
year. I urge all other member 4 states to follow our lead, which could
raise another $15 million annually for technical cooperation projects.
But again: we must be watchful -- for preparing for nuclear energy's
future requires that we also manage the consequences of the nuclear
past. We cannot forget the important work of ensuring the safe
operation of nuclear power reactors -- and I applaud the decisions of
Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Kazakhstan to shut down unsafe
The United States will continue to support the IAEA's nuclear safety
program and the safety norms this Agency has done so much to
encourage. This year, my government was proud to host an Operational
Safety Review Team mission to the North Anna nuclear power plant, the
fourth such visit to a U.S. plant since 1982.
Safe decommissioning of older reactors is another priority. The United
States is working to assist Kazakhstan in decommissioning its BN-350
reactor. In Ukraine, we are also paving the way to allow early
decommissioning of the reactors at Chornobyl.
And finally, we must provide for the safe and secure management and
disposal of spent nuclear fuel, wastes, and separated stocks of civil
plutonium. Last year in Denver, Colorado I was pleased to host an
international conference on geologic repositories. We agreed that
geologic disposal is a preferred option worldwide, independent of
choices that nations make with respect to the nuclear fuel cycle. So
to accelerate our cooperation, I pledge to make our research,
technology, and procedures for geologic disposal open and available to
all IAEA member states.
Ladies and gentlemen: looking to the future, let us agree to stand for
this Agency, which embodies Professor Einstein's plea for
"watchfulness" so well.
Half a world away right now, our nations' best are jointly taking the
field under the Olympic ideal of "encouraging a peaceful society." I
believe I speak for all of us when I say that we are joined here, too,
in pursuit of such an ideal. For some in Sydney and some of you here
today, there will be medals for your work. Still, our ultimate goal -
a better, safer world - is less tangible. But if we reach it,