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07 May 2004

Sanders Says U.S. Supports IAEA Efforts to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Cites international cooperation on nuclear safeguard issues

A Bush administration official urged the international community to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism by exercising greater responsibility to keep nuclear materials safe and secure.

In a May 4 speech in New York before the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, Ambassador Jackie Sanders said it is essential for governments to enforce rigorous compliance of International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) and NPT standards as a means to "reduce opportunities for terrorists to acquire nuclear materials...inflict massive casualties, widespread economic dislocation, and grave environmental damage anywhere in the world."

The Preparatory Committee, open to all NPT member states, addresses substantive issues affecting operation and implementation of the Treaty and agrees on measures to be approved at the Review Conference, held every five years. The next NPT Review Conference will take place at the United Nations May 2-27, 2005.

"The U.S. supports the IAEA in the coordination of international efforts to ensure the safety and security of nuclear and radioactive materials," Sanders said. "Through its Nuclear Security Action Plan, the IAEA is making commendable strides to meet this challenge."

This initiative helps states identify, locate, and secure high-risk nuclear sources as well as prevent, detect, and respond to illicit activities and emergencies involving radioactive materials, according to Sanders. She noted the U.S. has contributed $19 million to this program and urged all members to provide the budgetary, technical, and political support needed to meet this long-term challenge.

Sanders said the United States strongly supports the IAEA's revised Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources which strengthens the international norms and practices for tracking materials. "We are gratified that more than 40 member states have already notified the Director General of their intent to implement the code," she stated. "We join the IAEA in urging all nations, including those who are not members of the agency, to do so as soon as possible," the ambassador added.

Sanders also noted the 28-point action plan developed at the IAEA's International Conference on National Infrastructures for Radiation Safety in Morocco last September. The plan sets up model projects in various countries to accelerate the improvement of regulatory controls through infrastructure development, education, and emergency preparedness, and currently, there are 92 model project recipient states, she explained. The United States "will commit additional financial and technical resources" in support of the action plan objectives, she said.

Sanders praised the formation of the International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ), which helps states assess their protection of both nuclear and radiological materials. She noted Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Yemen have hosted INSServ missions.

"The United States stands firmly behind IAEA efforts to combat nuclear terrorism," Sanders said. "At the March 2003 International Conference on Security of Radioactive Sources," she said, "U.S. Department of Energy Secretary (Spencer) Abraham proposed a new Radiological Security Partnership with the IAEA to support U.S. efforts to secure high-risk radioactive sources in developing countries."

"In cooperation with the IAEA s Office of Nuclear Security, the Partnership is helping countries accelerate national initiatives to track high-risk radioactive sources, expand security enhancement efforts beyond Russia and other former Soviet states, and improve efforts to interdict illicit trafficking at major transit and shipping hubs," the ambassador added, noting that more than 40 countries have already requested assistance under this initiative.

The ambassador also spoke of the Nuclear and Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force formed by the U.S. Department of Energy to identify, secure and store high-risk radioactive materials that could be used in a dispersal device, and establish an inventory of the most vulnerable research reactors worldwide.

She discussed the success of the U.S.-IAEA-Russian Tripartite Initiative in locating, recovering, and securing radioactive sources in former Soviet states, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Second Line of Defense program which secures international land borders, seaports, and airports that might be used for smuggling, and the work of the DOE with Greece and the IAEA in preparation for the Olympic games

"The United States has also increased its efforts to help governments establish and implement effective export and border controls through the Department of State-coordinated Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) program." Sanders said. "It takes a regional approach and concentrates on potential proliferation source and transit states in Eurasia, source countries in South Asia, key transit and transshipment states in Southeastern Europe, and countries with major transshipment ports in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia."

"The U.S. takes the threat of nuclear terrorism seriously, and we stand ready to work with all nations to counter this threat," Sanders said.

Following is a transcript of Ambassador Sanders' speech:

(begin text)

Safe and Secure Peaceful Nuclear Programs
Ambassador Jackie W. Sanders
Special Representative of the President of the U.S. for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Third Session of the Preparatory Committee
For the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
New York City, New York
May 4, 2004

Mr. Chairman, fellow delegates:

From the beginning, we have understood that we must handle nuclear materials safely. It has always been clear that an accident involving nuclear or radioactive materials, or the facilities housing them, could be devastating to people, property, and the environment. However, since terrorists can strike anywhere, and nuclear or radioactive materials can be found almost anywhere, each of our countries faces threats of a sobering new order. We must counter these threats by shouldering even more effectively our collective responsibility to keep materials in our possession safe and secure.

Ensuring the security and safety of peaceful nuclear programs requires a comprehensive approach that begins with the overarching framework of the NPT, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and nuclear export controls. Compliance with these undertakings is essential to combating nuclear terrorism. By enforcing rigorous compliance, governments can reduce opportunities for terrorists to acquire nuclear materials, and inflict massive casualties, widespread economic dislocation, and grave environmental damage anywhere in the world.

The U.S. supports the IAEA in the coordination of international efforts to ensure the safety and security of nuclear and radioactive materials. Through its Nuclear Security Action Plan, adopted in March 2002, the IAEA is making commendable strides to meet this challenge. It is helping Member States to identify, locate and secure high-risk sources of greatest security concern and to strengthen critical regulatory infrastructures. It is helping Member States to prevent, detect and respond to illicit activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials, and to bolster their ability to respond to emergencies involving these materials. To date, 24 Member States and one NGO have provided this initiative with financial or in-kind support valued at more than $30 million dollars. The United States has proudly contributed nearly $19 million, or about two-thirds of the total, tangible proof that the IAEA s Nuclear Security Program is a high U.S. priority. Improving global nuclear security is a long-term challenge. It will require sustained cooperation from all Member States. We urge all Members to meet this challenge by providing the extra-budgetary, in-kind, technical, and political support these IAEA programs will continue to need.

The IAEA's efforts to promote nuclear safety and security continue apace. Major achievements of the past year include the 47th General Conference's endorsement of a revised Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. The United States strongly supported this initiative. The revised Code strengthens international norms and practices for radioactive source security, including norms and practices for national tracking of sources, vital access and export controls, and export notifications. We are gratified that more than 40 Member States have already notified the Director General of their intent to implement the Code. The United States was one of the first to make its formal commitment. We join the IAEA in urging all nations, including those who are not members of the Agency, to do so as soon as possible.

The IAEA's seminal International Conference on National Infrastructures for Radiation Safety, held in Rabat, Morocco last September, attracted 346 representatives from 108 countries, including 11 non-Member States of the IAEA. Conference recommendations have since resulted in development of a 28-point Action Plan directed at strengthening regulatory infrastructure development, education and training, emergency preparedness, and radiation protection improvements in 92 Model Project recipient states.

The Action Plan aims to accelerate activities to improve regulatory control of radioactive sources by 2007. Once approved by the Board of Governors -- expected in June -- the Action Plan will direct the incorporation of guidance from the Code of Conduct and other security documents into Model Project work in participating countries. The United States strongly endorses the Action Plan and will commit additional financial and technical resources to support IAEA Model Project objectives. Resources are now being sought from donor countries to also extend this assistance to non-Member States by individual request.

In 2003, the IAEA also formed a new International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ). This service helps states assess their protection of both nuclear and radiological materials. INSServ expert recommendations form the basis for follow-on assistance, either through IAEA or bilateral programs. Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Yemen have hosted INSServ missions.

These missions have already yielded considerable dividends. In one instance, a mission determined that a research reactor and two large radioactive sources have inadequate physical protection. Corrective action is already underway. In another case, an INSServ team identified the need for better control of radioactive material seized by law enforcement officials and made recommendations for immediate improvement.

The United States stands firmly behind IAEA efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. At the March 2003 International Conference on Security of Radioactive Sources, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Abraham proposed a new Radiological Security Partnership with the IAEA to support U.S. efforts to secure high-risk radioactive sources in developing countries. In cooperation with the IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security, the Partnership is helping countries accelerate national initiatives to track high-risk radioactive sources, expand security enhancement efforts beyond Russia and other former Soviet states, and improve efforts to interdict illicit trafficking at major transit and shipping hubs. The U.S. Department of Energy has committed substantial resources to this effort -- including $5 million in 2003 -- to fund joint U.S.-IAEA activities in these areas. More than 40 countries have already responded to our initial offer of assistance, and program activities are expanding rapidly.

In October 2003, the U.S. Department of Energy formed the Nuclear and Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force to streamline coordination of a major part of this work. Its primary missions are twofold. First, to identify, secure and store high-risk radioactive materials that could be used in a radiological dispersal device, both domestically and abroad. Second, to establish an inventory of the most vulnerable research reactors worldwide and develop an action plan to mitigate weaknesses identified in each. The United States will coordinate closely with the IAEA on both of these vital initiatives.

The U.S. government has stepped up its support for nuclear material safety and security at home and abroad. Over the past year, the U.S.- IAEA-Russian Tripartite Initiative to locate, recover and secure orphaned high-risk radioactive sources in the former Soviet states has made considerable progress. Its priority has been upgrading security at local storage sites with vulnerable high-activity sources in use. Tripartite activities are now underway in all but one of the former Soviet countries. These activities are in addition to ongoing work in Russia to recover radioisotope thermoelectric generators, replace them with alternative power sources, recover other high-risk sources, and provide security upgrades to Russian Radons.

The United States has also increased its efforts to help governments establish and implement effective export and border controls through the Department of State-coordinated Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) program. The EXBS program works to improve national legal and regulatory frameworks, licensing processes, border control and investigative capabilities, outreach to industry, and interagency coordination. It takes a regional approach and concentrates on potential proliferation source and transit states in Eurasia, source countries in South Asia, key transit and transshipment states in Southeastern Europe, and countries with major transshipment ports in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Second Line of Defense (SLD) program continues to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials by securing international land borders, seaports and airports that may be used as smuggling routes. The SLD Core Program worked closely with the Government of the Russian Federation to equip additional Russian border sites in FY 2003. That work continues this year. The program has recently surveyed sites in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan in preparation for implementation of the SLD program there. It has also conducted 17 training courses on WMD detection, identification and interdiction for customs inspectors. SLD and other U.S. Department of Energy offices are cooperating actively with the IAEA and Greek authorities to implement a number of projects aimed at increasing capability to secure nuclear and radioactive materials, and to detect illicit trafficking of these materials, in preparation for the Olympic Games.

In addition, the United States participated in eight IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service missions. These missions assist Member States in strengthening their national systems for the protection of nuclear material and facilities. We led the missions to Chile and Mexico and provided physical protection assistance to Bulgaria and Indonesia. We also responded to an IAEA request to assess support to Poland for physical protection improvements. We are increasing our training assistance across the board.

Mr. Chairman, be assured that our satisfaction with these accomplishments is matched by the sobering realization that much remains to be done. As President Bush recently stated, terrorists who kill hundreds of innocent people would, if they gained weapons of mass destruction, kill hundreds of thousands, without hesitation and without mercy. The U.S. takes the threat of nuclear terrorism seriously, and we stand ready to work with all nations to counter this threat.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(end text)