New US Administration Strongly Supports IAEA


US Secretary of State-designee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, emphasized strong support for the IAEA and its global roles during confirmation hearings before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, DC. The Committee on 15 January 2009 endorsed Mrs. Clinton's appointment and agreed to send her nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. The vote is expected to take place after the inauguration of Barack Obama as US President on 20 January 2009.

Statements of US support include plans to double the IAEA's budget and to further strengthen the IAEA's capabilities to verify the exclusively peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Following are excerpts from Hillary Rodham Clinton's responses to questions on various issues at her Senate confirmation hearings:

IAEA Capabilities, Resources

"Especially if the world's reliance on nuclear power increases substantially in coming decades, a huge burden will be placed on the IAEA to ensure that civil nuclear facilities and activities are not diverted to military uses and that nuclear facilities and materials are secure against theft or seizure by terrorist groups. The IAEA is understaffed and under-resourced for the current and growing responsibilities placed on it by the international community. That is why the President-Elect has called for doubling the IAEA's budget over the next four years."

"We also favor strengthening the Agency's verification capabilities by promoting universal adherence to the Additional Protocol and by expanding the Agency's verification authorities beyond those contained in the Additional Protocol to provide more effective means of detecting clandestine facilities and activities."

Nuclear Non-Proliferation, IAEA Safeguards

"The Obama Administration plans to set a new direction in nuclear weapons policy, one that reflects the changed security conditions of the 21st century and that shows the world that the US takes seriously its existing commitment under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue nuclear disarmament."

"The Obama Administration will seek ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty….The President-Elect and I are both strongly committed to Senate approval of the CTBT and to launching a diplomatic effort to bring on board other States whose ratifications are requiried for the treaty to enter into force."

"The President-Elect made it clear during the campaign that he supports the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons…The Obama Administration will work to build the necessary support to get negotiations underway."

"The Obama Administration will place great importance on strengthening the NPT and the non-proliferation regime in general. It will encourage all States to support more rigorous IAEA verification measures, tighter restrictions on transfers of sensitive technologies, and stronger means of enforcing compliance."

International Nuclear Fuel Bank

"President-Elect Obama and I strongly supported legislation providing $50 million to the IAEA for the creation of an international nuclear fuel bank. We believe the United States should work with other countries and the IAEA to put in place new mechanisms, including an international fuel bank that would allow countries to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy without increasing the risks of nuclear proliferation. An international fuel bank could reassure countries embarking on or expanding nuclear power programs that, as long as they comply with their non-proliferation obligations, they could reliably purchase reactor fuel in the event that their existing fuel supplies were cut off. This would reduce any incentives a country genuinely interested in nuclear energy might have for going to the trouble and expense of building its own enrichment or reprocessing facilities. Assuring countries of reliable spent fuel services (e.g. long-term storage) would serve the same goal of reducing incentives for acquiring indigenous fuel-cycle facilities."

Source: IAEA site