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Secretary Chu Addresses the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference

Sunday, September 26, 2010  
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Secretary Chu Addresses the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference

Washington, DC - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu addressed the International Atomic Energy Agency's 54th General Conference today in Vienna. His prepared remarks are below:

Thank you, Ambassador Enkhsaikhan. Congratulations on your election as President of this Conference.

I extend my thanks and appreciation to Director General Mr. Yukiya Amano for his exemplary leadership in his first year. I especially welcome the Director General's initiative to help fight cancer in developing countries.

I am honored to represent the United States today, and I want to share a message from President Barack Obama:


I send warm greetings to all those gathered for the 54th International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference.

The United States stands with the IAEA and its members in the effort both to harness the potential of nuclear energy for peace and development, and to contain the dangers it poses for our collective security. These are inseparable challenges, reflected in the dual role played by this Agency as both a promoter of peaceful nuclear uses and an instrument for verification and security.

We seek a future in which nuclear energy is made available to all nations that comply with nonproliferation norms and rules, and we also recognize the international nonproliferation system has not always worked as we would hope. For this reason, the United States has called for added resources and authorities for the IAEA, penalties against those who violate their nonproliferation obligations, and new international mechanisms that ensure the safe, secure, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

No nation has a monopoly on nuclear power, and no nation alone can manage its inherent risks. This is a challenge we face together. Working cooperatively through international institutions and with a shared sense of commitment and obligation, we can succeed in building a safer future, one in which the barriers to proliferation are high and the obstacles to nuclear energy are low. The United States will continue to do its part, having this year convened the first Nuclear Security Summit which highlighted the risk of nuclear security at a head of state level, revised our nuclear posture, and reached agreement with Russia on a new nuclear arms accord. We are also developing measures that would ensure safe and secure access to the benefits of the peaceful atom. Among these is an IAEA fuel bank, designed to support countries' access to peaceful nuclear energy by underpinning the international nuclear fuel market. This concept, which has its roots in the vision of Bernard Baruch, was proposed in 2006 and has been extensively analyzed and debated. The time to act is now, and we will work pragmatically toward a decision this year.

These are important first steps, but much more remains to be done if we are to prevent nuclear weapons from spreading or falling into the hands of terrorists. While we may not agree on every priority or remedy, it is essential we be defined not by our differences, but by the interests we hold in common. We can start here, at this General Conference, by taking action to strengthen the consensus against proliferation and encourage the fullest possible exchange of peaceful nuclear technology.

I hope you will join with my delegation in committing to these goals, and I wish you all the best for a successful conference.


As President Obama indicated, the IAEA sits at the nexus of two great challenges: helping a rapidly developing world unlock the promise of low-carbon electricity and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons as we work to realize the peace and security of a world without them.

Today, I want to expand on President Obama's vision in four areas: promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, strengthening nonproliferation and international safeguards, advancing disarmament, and keeping nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists.

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