It is good to be here with everyone. Thank you to the members of the press for your time to join us today, and also to my colleagues here, Administrator Hruby and Ambassador Holgate. How rare, and gratifying, it is to see three women leading a press conference to discuss the United States’ priorities for the IAEA’s 66th General Conference.
Before I speak about our priorities, I would like to address the current security situation. The international community has strongly condemned Russia’s use of irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its military operations at and near nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Last week, a ministerial joint statement on the safety and security of civil nuclear facilities in armed conflicts was issued at a meeting hosted by the French President at the UN General Assembly, in which I had the honor to take part and represent the United States’ support. Meanwhile, Russian officials respond by spreading disinformation and seeking to subvert multilateral fora and institutions. Let’s not forget that the only country to break consensus at the Tenth NPT Review Conference was Russia.
Adding onto what Administrator Hruby said about our appreciation for the IAEA’s efforts to support the safe and secure operations of and the application of safeguards at Ukrainian nuclear facilities, we call on the international community to support the courageous IAEA personnel remaining at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. We also note with appreciation the IAEA’s proposal for a nuclear safety and security protective zone around the facility. Furthermore, we highlight the Director General’s most recent report on Zaporizhzhya NPP stating that all Seven Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security have been impacted. Russia must immediately withdraw its military forces and other personnel from the Zaporizhzhya NPP and cease all reckless military operations at or in the vicinity of Ukrainian nuclear facilities. And the United States will never recognize any territory Russia seizes and annexes.
The United States appreciates the IAEA’s efforts to help respond to Russia’s dangerous actions in Ukraine and more broadly its tireless work to strengthen the international nuclear security, safety, and safeguards regimes, while promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, science, and technology. We are excited to continue this work by capitalizing on the progress the nonproliferation community made at the NPT Review Conference last month. This progress includes recognizing the importance of the work of the IAEA to spread the benefits of the peaceful applications of nuclear science, technology, and applications.
In that vein, I am extremely pleased to announce that the Department of State has awarded $3.9 million to CRDF Global to help implement our new initiative, the Sustained Dialogue on Peaceful Uses. The initiative seeks to identify and promote new areas of cooperation in peaceful uses that can help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on the Least Developed Countries, and to build stronger connections with the development community and industry. This initiative was announced at the Tenth NPT Review Conference with our partner, the United Kingdom, and with co-sponsoring support from 29 other countries. We intend to work closely with the IAEA in carrying out this new effort to ensure its efforts are well-coordinated with, and supportive of, the IAEA’s leading role in providing assistance in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, science and technology.
We are thrilled at the growth—both qualitatively and quantitatively— of nuclear technology, but remind Member States that it will be important to maintain strong safeguards, security, and safety practices to support the nuclear industry in this expansion. The United States views peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nonproliferation as a mutually enforcing relationship. We are pleased to see the publication of the IAEA Director General’s report on AUKUS that reflects the Agency’s satisfaction with our engagement to date. We will continue to engage the IAEA Secretariat to develop a suitable safeguards and verification approach that sets the highest non-proliferation standard and will continue our open and transparent engagement with both the IAEA and IAEA Member States. Furthermore, we remain steadfast in countering disinformation and propaganda from others that is an attempt to interfere with the IAEA’s efforts – and mandate – to engage the AUKUS partners regarding Australia’s acquisition of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.
In today’s geopolitical climate full of disinformation and tactics to undermine the international rules-based order, we are grateful for the work of the IAEA. The United States will continue to promote this important work. As, President Biden said “in this time of great upheaval, we must provide unequivocal support – through our words and our resources – for the IAEA’s indispensable role in addressing global challenges.” Thank you.