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Administrator D'Agostino's Remarks at the INMM 4th Annual Workshop

February 03, 2010

Good afternoon.  Thank you, Steve (Mladineo), for the kind introduction.  I would also like to thank Steve Ortiz and Ruth Duggan and the rest of the INMM leadership for including me on the agenda for this workshop.  I appreciate the luncheon and the opportunity to visit with many long-time friends.

After your day-and-a-half of discussions on reducing risks, addressing trafficking, and enhancing material tracking, I want to provide a few remarks on the importance of this meeting and the impact of all those activities on the upcoming NPT Review Conference.

But first, let me take a minute to talk about the incredible developments in the last week.  Between Vice President Biden’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, and the President’s budget request on Monday, I believe that we are reaching a critical juncture. We are beginning to see what the Vice President called “an emerging bipartisan consensus” on a path forward for our nuclear security strategy. 

The President’s budget request reverses the decline in support for the nuclear security enterprise, which will enable us to implement the ambitious agenda he laid out in his Prague speech. 

These goals – investing in our nuclear security infrastructure and strengthening the NPT – are intertwined.  The same state-of-the art facilities and highly trained and motivated people that allow us to maintain our arsenal without testing also help meet the President's goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials world-wide in the coming years. They are critical to maintaining our ability to track and thwart nuclear trafficking, verify weapons reductions, and to develop tomorrow's cutting-edge technologies for our security and prosperity.

The President’s budget request is the first of several closely related and equally important initiatives giving life to the President's Prague agenda. Others include completing the New START agreement with Russia, releasing the Nuclear Posture Review on March 1, holding the Nuclear Security Summit in April, and -- of course -- the NPT Review Conference in May.
I believe, and we all hope, that by working collaboratively at the NPT Review Conference, the international community will seize this moment of opportunity to make real progress towards the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.  President Obama laid out an agenda for realistic interim steps towards this future goal.  Those steps will reinforce the nonproliferation regime and strengthen the barriers preventing terrorist groups from acquiring nuclear weapons and materials.  The NPT Review Conference is a vital opportunity to strengthen the regime and put it on a sustainable path forward.

The three main pillars of the NPT – moving toward disarmament, preventing proliferation, and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy – are integrally related, interdependent, and mutually reinforcing.  Our work towards the vision President Obama set out in Prague, and our continuing effort to expand nuclear energy worldwide, depend on a strong and reliable nonproliferation regime that is committed to all three pillars. 

My organization, the National Nuclear Security Administration, plays a leading role in each of the NPT’s three pillars.  As a result, I must consider the interrelation of each pillar in laying out the future direction of the NNSA. 

Without question, U.S. leadership has dramatically and positively changed the atmosphere for the NPT Review Conference, and it has created exceptionally high expectations of what that Conference might agree upon.  As a result, we must underscore the President’s call for mutual responsibilities, and continue to remind all of the parties to the NPT that each has an important role to play in achieving a world without nuclear weapons, whether they possess them or not. 

President Obama’s FY2011 Budget Request makes clear that the United States will do its part.  It includes a 67 percent increase our Global Threat Reduction Initiative to accelerate the removal and disposition of high-priority vulnerable nuclear material overseas and convert additional HEU-fueled research reactors to the use of less proliferation-sensitive low enriched uranium fuel. It requests a 10 percent increase in Nonproliferation and Verification R&D funding, expands security and detection programs of our Second Line of Defense and Megaport programs, and enhances efforts in safeguards, export control, and our other nonproliferation programs. 

Overall, the NNSA nonproliferation budget increases nearly 26% over FY2010 – a direct and tangible display of the President’s commitment to this mission, and a demonstration of the critical role NNSA plays in implementing the President’s unprecedented nuclear security agenda.  We have men and women working in more than 100 countries around the world to secure vulnerable materials, prevent nuclear smuggling, and strengthen international export controls. 

I applaud the President for his leadership on these issues and look forward to working with Congress to get this budget passed.

The United States understands that renewing and strengthening the NPT’s nuclear bargain will also require reinvigoration of the Treaty’s second pillar – the path to nuclear disarmament.  Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States is demonstrating concrete progress towards the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, while continuing to emphasize the critical importance of a stable, reliable international nonproliferation regime to further disarmament success.  For this reason, the United States is taking steps to reduce both the numbers and the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge other nations to do the same.   

As you know, U.S. and Russian negotiators are working intensely to complete negotiation of a new START treaty that will further reduce the strategic nuclear forces of both parties in a manner that is transparent and verifiable.  The United States is also working towards U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the CTBT, and has committed to working with our partners in Geneva at the Conference on Disarmament towards prompt commencement of negotiation on a treaty that verifiably bans the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.   

But, to create the conditions for our nuclear disarmament efforts to succeed, non-nuclear weapon states must also fulfill their own collective commitment to prevent proliferation.  This is not only about forgoing nuclear weapon capabilities and accepting IAEA safeguards, but also about rigorous collective efforts to impede and dissuade other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. The upcoming Review Conference offers an opportunity to reinforce this main objective of the NPT.  As President Obama said in Prague, “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”  

At the Review Conference, the United States will urge all states to provide the IAEA with the tools and resources required to fulfill its vital mission. International safeguards are a fundamental component of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and the global community has a major stake in maintaining the effectiveness and credibility of international safeguards.  Through the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative, NNSA is working with the IAEA and its international partners to develop the concepts, technologies, expertise and international infrastructure necessary to sustain the international safeguards system as it evolves to meet new challenges. 
During the NPT Review Conference, the United States will call on the international community to universalize the Additional Protocol. The United States recently ratified its own Additional Protocol with the IAEA, and it entered into force on January 6, 2009.   We believe that the combination of a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol should be the international standard. 

Finally, the third – and often overlooked – pillar of the nuclear nonproliferation regime is our responsibility to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  As concerns over climate change, energy security, and sustainable development grow, so too will international interest in nuclear power.  In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama talked about investing in nuclear energy here in America to meet our own energy needs. As we move forward with expanding our use of nuclear power, we also need to resolve issues of used fuel management, nuclear waste disposal, and proliferation.  The Secretary has created a Blue Ribbon Commission of leading experts from around the country to examine our approach to the back end of the fuel cycle.  They are tasked to consider a wide range of technological and policy alternatives, and will analyze the scientific, environmental, and financial issues for each of those alternatives.  Our aim is to put science back at the center of what this issue is about. 
No matter what the Blue Ribbon Commission finds, managing the growth of this industry in a way that does not exacerbate the proliferation challenge must be addressed at the upcoming Review Conference.  President Obama has called for a new framework that can broaden the use of nuclear power while minimizing proliferation risks.  His budget includes a number of efforts that will assist in establishing this initiative. To support the creation of such a framework, the United States is supporting an international fuel bank and working with international partners to explore cradle-to-grave fuel services. The Review Conference can validate these goals and recognize the need for further discussion and cooperation.

So, our hope for the NPT Review Conference is that it will provide a forum to continue moving forward with the steps that begin to fulfill the President’s Prague vision and strengthen the NPT and the nonproliferation regime.  Following the President’s nuclear security summit in April, we will use the NPT Review Conference to show the world that the United States is fully committed to the goals of the NPT, and we hope that other nations respond positively.

To strengthen the nonproliferation regime and put us on a path towards zero, there are obviously many more technical issues that will need to be solved.  This afternoon’s panel of speakers will collectively discuss one of the major impediments to real control over proliferation—verification.  The panel of Jay Davis, John Dunn, George Anzelon, and Garry George should provide a sobering assessment of where we are and where we will be in the verification arena, and the ultimate importance of verification in any realistic NPT scenario.  To reflect that importance and how NNSA will promote verification technology efforts, the President included $45 million in his FY2011 Budget Request to support the NTS National Center for Nuclear Security, a significant increase from the $10 million provided last year.  This center will provide new capability for test and evaluation of new technologies to support current and future treaty and arms control implementation. 

But, despite the challenges in the verification area, I believe we are approaching a moment of opportunity for the NPT regime. If we can work together, as an international community, to seize it, we can greatly enhance global security and reduce nuclear dangers so the world can achieve the President’s vision of a future world without nuclear weapons. 

With that, I thank you for your patience, and I look forward to hearing the feedback from this afternoon’s speakers.

Washington, DC