New Paradigms Forum Proliferation Issues and Much More …


Sharing the Benefits of Peaceful Nuclear Uses


Below are Assistant Secretary Ford's remarks to a Joint Session of the G7 Nonproliferation Directors Group (NPDG) and the Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG) in Quebec, Canada, on October 16, 2018.  These remarks may also be found on the website of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.

Let me start by echoing our other presenters in thanking our Canadian hosts for organizing yet another excellent session in an excellent year of G7 meetings, despite some very challenging geopolitical circumstances.

I should also emphasize how successful it has been for the Nonproliferation Directors Group (NPDG) and the Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG) sessions to be held jointly under Canada’s G7 chairmanship, as is being done here today. From my perspective in charge of the bureau at the U.S. Department of State responsible for both nonproliferation policy and nuclear safety and security policy, I know full well how valuable it is for the policy and programmatic sides of our work to coordinate closely. These arenas are deeply and inescapably complementary, and we are delighted at Canada’s willingness to accentuate this complementarity and allow all of us more opportunities to build upon it through the innovation of holding joint NPDG/NSSG sessions. Our Canadian chairs are setting high standards in their G7 chairmanship, which France and the United States will now have to follow, but that’s very good news indeed.

The approach of the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — which will coincide with the U.S. G7 chairmanship in 2020 — makes this a very important and auspicous year, and one full of symbolic and political, as well as substantive, importance for the global nonproliferation regime. Under the circumstances, it is important that we, the G7, continue to be a driving force, both in sharing the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in accordance with Article IV of the NPT and in making sure other States Party know of our pivotal role in this respect. Since President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech in 1953, the countries that now make up the G7 have been leaders in advancing international civil nuclear cooperation and in facilitating access worldwide to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation.

My focus today is to highlight a few concrete examples of how we, as G7 members, are supporting implementation of Article IV. But first, however, I’d like to make a critical point — one that some people too often simply forget, and that others sometimes seem willfully to try to obscure. Specifically, one must remember that it is the core nonproliferation provisions of the NPT — including safeguards requirements, and observance of “best practices” in nuclear safety and security — that provide enormous security benefits to all Parties, and are indeed what make this cooperation possible. These nonproliferation and nuclear safety and security assurances provide confidence that peaceful nuclear cooperation will not lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. For this reason, these assurances are the inescapable foundation upon which rests the entire edifice of peaceful nuclear cooperation.

One could not imagine a world of wide and deep nuclear sharing unless it were clear that such sharing would not lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons to state or non-state actors. Safeguards, safety, and security are therefore critical enablers for nuclear cooperation, and it would be foolish and counterproductive to forget or ignore this.

So that’s why it’s a pleasure to be able to say a few words about the G7’s critical role in supporting peaceful uses, building upon that foundation. As we know, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a focal point for engagement between NPT Parties on peaceful nuclear uses. For many IAEA Member States without nuclear power programs – especially developing countries – the availability of IAEA projects and activities supporting peaceful nuclear uses is a key incentive for IAEA membership and for the ongoing work that is necessary to implement and comply with nonproliferation requirements and nuclear safety and security “best practices.”

If we consider the period from 2010, when the IAEA launched the Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI), through 2017, we can see that the G7 back up their commitments of support for peaceful nuclear uses with considerable financial resources. For that eight-year period, the G7 collectively provided approximately 65 percent of total IAEA revenues, 72 percent of total Member State extrabudgetary contributions, 65 percent of total Member State contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund (TCF), and 82 percent of total contributions to the Peaceful Uses Initiative. These figures are impressive, especially when you consider that we, the G7, are just 7 of the now 170 IAEA Member States. I think that’s worth repeating for emphasis: a mere four percent of the membership contributes between 65 and 82 percent of all the funds available for the IAEA’s important work in these areas.

We don’t just contribute financial resources, however. We also contribute expertise that helps ensure peaceful nuclear uses are shared widely, efficiently, and effectively. Together, our financial resources and technical expertise have consistently contributed to the IAEA’s many successes in the field. A few recent examples include the removal of disused radioactive sources from several South American countries (2018), the eradication of the fruit-destroying Mediterranean fruit fly in the Dominican Republic (2017), the first region-wide mapping and assessment of ground water in Africa’s drought-prone Sahel Region (2017), eradication (99%) of the disease-spreading tsetse fly in Senegal (2017), the 20th anniversary of the eradication of the tsetse fly from Tanzania’s Island of Zanzibar (2016), and the global eradication of the cattle-destroying rinderpest disease (2011).

This is a remarkable legacy. For my part, for instance, I still vividly remember a professor of African history telling me, when I was an undergraduate many years ago, of the ways in which diseases such as rinderpest and the Sleeping Sickness spread by tsetse flies had powerfully contributed to the tragic underdevelopment of the Sub-Saharan region. And yet — with the assistance of what Eisenhower’s generation used to rather quaintly call “the peaceful atom“ — we are in the process of defeating those scourges. People around the world should remember this, and remember the degree to which such progress is built upon a foundation of nonproliferation and nuclear safety and security assurances.

Looking forward, we, the G7, also need to keep in mind that it is not only developing states that benefit from our generous support for peaceful nuclear uses. We and other developed states benefit as well. For example, our support for peaceful nuclear uses helps to support our economic and commercial interests and create new business opportunities for our firms — and thus jobs for our peoples. Our contribution to peaceful uses work also allows us to build support for nonproliferation objectives, not least by demonstrating in tangible ways that high standards of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation enable states to share in the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

As we prepare for the 2020 NPT Review Conference, the United States hopes the international community can remain focused on the common interests of all NPT States Party in promoting peaceful uses, and thus also in ensuring fidelity to the nonproliferation and safety and security practices that enable and underpin peaceful uses. We hope you will join in pursuing a collective goal of drawing more attention to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy as a shared benefit of the NPT regime.

We think Argentine Ambassador Rafael Grossi’s idea of conducting regional NPT outreach that is designed, in part, to focus attention on peaceful uses — outreach that includes not just “usual suspects” like us on the diplomatic circuit, but also a broad range of nontraditional stakeholders — is a promising way to shape the NPT review process in more realistic and constructive ways. In particular, Ambassador Grossi aims to bring into the NPT review process some of the constituencies, such as ministries of agriculture, health, and science, nuclear regulators, and private sector stakeholders of all varieties who benefit from this underappreciated aspect of the NPT regime. We hope he is soon confirmed as RevCon President so he can begin these efforts.

Maintaining a continuous dialogue with you, our G7 colleagues, will be an important part of the NPT Review Conference process as well. The global system for the thoughtful sharing of nuclear benefits, after all, does not maintain and implement itself. It needs help from all of us. Together we should provide much needed leadership on how best to affirm, sustain, and enlarge the benefits of peaceful nuclear uses for all NPT Parties. In this regard, we agree with Rafael that the involvement of regulators, operators, and other nontraditional stakeholders, including the private sector and academia, will be key to building capacity and advancing Article IV objectives.

Accordingly, I urge you to joining us in helping send a strong message to the world that States that uphold their nonproliferation commitments and follow nuclear safety and security “best practices” will continue to have strong partners in the G7 in our ongoing efforts, together, to bring about the fullest possible cooperation in developing, expanding, and advancing the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Today, as the result of our collective efforts, the world is indeed realizing the peaceful promise of the atom. We should be rightly proud of this, and we should rededicate ourselves to preserving the architecture upon which this great cooperative endeavor is founded.

We invite your thoughts on how best to move forward to maximize the benefits that flow to all of us from peaceful nuclear cooperation. I am particularly interested in hearing any specific priorities, needs, and interests you may have relevant to cooperation on peaceful nuclear uses.

Thank you!

-- Christopher Ford


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