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Friday, June 14, 2024

U.S. Energy Deputy Secretary David Turk Delivered U.S. National Statement at 2024 IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security

Thank you to Director General Grossi and his team at the IAEA for  convening us. I want to also thank Australia and Kazakhstan, the Co Presidents of this year’s ICONS.  

We regret the loss of life in the recent helicopter crash in Iran.   

We’re gathering this week to promote our collective efforts to strengthen  the global nuclear security architecture in a time of great change—both  positive and negative.  

Since the 2020 ICONS, the world has taken steps to confront the threat  of climate change through an expansion of clean nuclear energy; most  recently at COP28, during which 25 countries committed to a tripling  nuclear energy by 2050.  

At the same time, Russia’s forcible, irresponsible seizure of Ukraine’s  Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has also served as a stark reminder  that nuclear security and emergency preparedness require urgent and  continual attention and action.  

We deeply appreciate the commitment and courage of the Director  General and the IAEA as they support nuclear safety and security and to  implement safeguards at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. 

Because public confidence requires that nuclear technologies are safe  and secure, we all need a renewed determination to protect nuclear  facilities and material and to support emergency preparedness.  

Against this backdrop, Iran’s decision to break with long-standing  consensus language, which they have also done in other Vienna-based  forums, is even more regrettable. Compromises, not ultimatums, are key  to the famous spirit of Vienna.  

We thank the Co-Presidents for their tireless efforts toward a consensus  Ministerial Declaration. The United States is pleased to align itself with  the Co-Presidents’ Statement. 

Last year, President Biden released a new national strategy to Counter  Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorismbuilding upon the decades of  success in reducing, eliminating, and securing nuclear and other  radioactive materials.  

Since ICONS 2020, the United States has made important strides towards these goals:  

With our partner Belgium, we converted the last major producer of  the medical isotope molybdenum-99 from highly enriched uranium  to low-enriched uranium targets. In doing so, Belgium joins  Australia, the Netherlands, and South Africa in switching to LEU  for Mo-99 production, enabling the United States to fulfill its  pledge to cease exports of HEU for medical isotope production.

Through collaborative efforts with international partners, including  Canada, France, Japan, Kazakhstan, and the Netherlands, we  removed or confirmed the disposition of over 160 kilograms of  weapons-usable nuclear material.

In 2023, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – the largest  hospital network in the United States – replaced all of its high activity radioactive sources with less risky and more capable X-ray  devices. Jordan and Uruguay have taken similar steps to remove all  their Cesium-137 devices. 

And the United States also hosted our second International  Physical Protection Advisory Service mission. We encourage all  countries to join with us and the most recent IPPAS hosts,  Bangladesh, Kuwait, Nigeria, Romania, and Zambia to take  advantage of this invaluable advisory service.  

To meet our net-zero emissions goals, the United States is prioritizing  the design, development, and deployment of advanced nuclear  technologies, including advanced and small modular reactors, that  incorporate the highest standards of nuclear safety, security, and  safeguards.

These technologies promise to be critical tools for realizing the  global expansion of peaceful nuclear energy and combating  climate change. But they can also add to fissile material stockpiles  and lower the barrier to nuclear proliferation.  

That is why the United States is committed to avoiding the production,  use, and accumulation of weapons-usable nuclear material and the use of  these materials in new nuclear fuels, where technically and economically feasible. 

We are also working to provide a licensing pathway and  technology-neutral frameworks for U.S. advanced reactor  designers to enhance safety, security, safeguards, and proliferation  resistance.

Our partnership with the IAEA will be essential to our success in  simultaneously realizing the benefits of the next generation of  nuclear energy, while reducing nuclear proliferation and security  risks.

Similarly, we must also work together to proactively manage risks  associated with other advanced, emerging technologies without  reducing their benefits.

Artificial intelligence is a tool that has enormous potential to  advance innovation, but we must shape its application so that we  can contain any associated risk.

That is why President Biden has taken historic steps to responsibly  advance safe, secure, and trustworthy AI and we welcome  international partnership on this important endeavor.  

In today’s interconnected world, nuclear security requires a collective  commitment, including delivering the resources needed by the IAEA to  support its nuclear security guidance, peer reviews, and advisory services.  

Since ICONS 2020, the United States has contributed nearly $80  million to the Nuclear Security Fund. 

We have supported the IAEA’s Milestones Approach by providing  capacity-building to embarking and expanding countries for  prioritizing the highest nuclear security and nonproliferation  standards.  

Let me also reiterate the United States’ full support for the IAEA’s  Seven Indispensable Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security and the Five Concrete Principles. 

Russia’s reckless invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder that some are  actively working to undermine our shared interests in nuclear security.  We should ALL continue to call out those irresponsible actors and  actions with clarity and with one voice.  

Let’s live our values through our actions: deepening our commitment to  the IAEA, keeping focus on nuclear security at the senior-most levels of  our governments, and reminding our industries that nuclear security is a  top priority. 

By working together, we’ll harness the expanding promise of peaceful  nuclear technology—safely, securely, and with confidence in a brighter  tomorrow. May a commitment to collective action and cooperation be  what inspires us to shape the future. 

The responsibility is on all our shoulders. History is watching.   

Thank you. 

Official news published at https://www.energy.gov/articles/us-energy-deputy-secretary-david-turk-delivered-us-national-statement-2024-iaea

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