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Presented at the Second International Meeting on Next Generation Safeguards

October 26, 2009

Presented at the Second International Meeting on Next Generation SafeguardsPresented by Thomas D'Agostino, Administrator, NNSA

Good morning and welcome to the Second International Meeting on Next Generation Safeguards. 

Let me start by thanking Deputy Minister Moriguchi for his opening remarks and expressing our great appreciation to the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for graciously offering to co-sponsor and host this critical meeting: Doh-moh  Ah-ree-GAH-toh! 

Let me also thank all of you for your attendance and your participation.  We are particularly delighted to see our colleagues from the IAEA as well as delegations from so many countries. 
I look forward to hearing ideas from all of you on how we can work together to strengthen international safeguards.

In his April speech in Prague as well as his September address at the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama laid out the goal of seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, and an ambitious agenda of concrete steps toward that goal.  These actions include:

  • securing all vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide, 
  • negotiating further arms reductions with the Russian Federation,
  • ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,
  • negotiation of a treaty to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons,
  • strengthening efforts to combat illicit trafficking of proliferation sensitive materials and technology, and
  • strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

As part of this ambitious agenda, President Obama also emphasized the importance of strengthening the international safeguards system.  As President Obama said in Prague, “we need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections.” 

International safeguards promote confidence in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, deter and provide possible early warning of incipient nuclear weapon programs, and provide a robust basis for conclusions about a state’s compliance with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations. 

The entire global community has a major stake in maintaining the effectiveness and credibility of the international safeguards system. This is the reason why we are meeting here this week. 

At last year’s meeting on Next Generation Safeguards, we discussed the many challenges facing the international safeguards system. 

The number of facilities and the amount of fissile material coming under safeguards is increasing.  Global nuclear energy production is poised to expand. The IAEA’s mandate is evolving with high profile investigations in Iran and Syria.  Meanwhile, a high percentage of safeguards professionals with the requisite knowledge to carry out and analyze these inspections at the IAEA, are at or near retirement age and we face similar challenges with safeguards experts in the United States.

At this year’s meeting, we hope to move beyond discussing the challenges to discussing specific actions that we can take to address some of them.

Speaking for my organization, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in 2008 we launched the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative, or NGSI. 

Our principal goal is to develop the technical base – the technologies, infrastructure and expertise – needed to sustain the international safeguards system. 

Although NGSI is primarily focused on revitalizing U.S. domestic capabilities, these capabilities are also intended to address international needs, including the needs of the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as the needs of other countries with plans to develop nuclear power.

Today, we are releasing a 2009 NGSI Annual Report.  I hope you have an opportunity to review it.  As it shows, NGSI has had a productive year and we have achieved a number of successes: 

  • We are investigating new measurement techniques with a special emphasis on spent fuel and enrichment monitoring;
  • We are developing in-field detection equipment, exploring new concepts such as Safeguards by Design and process monitoring;
  • We are looking into ways to train a new generation of safeguards professionals with expertise across a wide range of safeguards-relevant fields, and helping to build a safeguards culture in countries pursuing nuclear power. 

I’m especially pleased to say that many of the countries represented at this meeting have played major roles in these successes.

In June 2009, the United States sponsored a Workshop on the Harmonization of Nuclear Safeguards Infrastructure Development in Vienna, Austria.  Seven donor countries and three international organizations participated, including the IAEA, EURATOM, and ABACC.  The purpose of the workshop was to begin the process of coordinating, or “harmonizing”, the various types of safeguards infrastructure assistance that is being provided throughout the world by the various donor programs.  We determined that, even considering in the totality of our assistance programs, there are gaps between what is needed and what is being provided. There is also some duplication in our programs that needs to be resolved. We also determined that we need to ensure we are sending consistent messages.  We will continue to work together to address these issues.    

In September 2009, the United States and EURATOM co-hosted an international workshop on human capital development in Ispra, Italy.  At this workshop, participants discussed domestic human capital development programs and the resources available for training the next generation of safeguards professionals.  We agreed on the need for sharing educational resources and engaging in joint safeguards training and education programs.

We expect that this is just the beginning and that, through our focus and cooperation, we will continue to achieve results that have a direct and positive impact on the international safeguards system.  During this conference we will hear a number of presentations on safeguards concepts, technologies, and initiatives that are truly “cutting edge.” 

The topics on our agenda represent the building blocks of the international safeguards system of the future, one that relies on technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards implementation.  One that relies on a wide range of information to draw broad and transparent conclusions about safeguards implementation at the state level.  One that relies on a firm foundation of political support for and legal commitment to effective international safeguards. 

No one country can lay the foundation for next generation safeguards on its own.  Rather, as evidenced by the broad array of countries present at this meeting, we must each bring our strengths to the table and work together.

This type of cooperation is essential if we are to position the international safeguards system to respond to present and future challenges.  Toward this end, there are a number of steps that we can agree to take this week. 

We can pursue opportunities for joint development, testing, and demonstration of advanced safeguards technologies and analytical methodologies. 

We can pursue opportunities for collaborative projects that constructively engage countries newly interested in nuclear power, that help build a “safeguards culture.”

We can exchange information on national and international strategic initiatives related to international safeguards.

We can exchange best practices related to the incorporation of safeguards requirements into new nuclear facilities.

We can exchange information on infrastructure harmonization and safeguards outreach activities. 

We can also exchange information on safeguards human capital development including development of nonproliferation-related training courses and course materials.

Together, we can pledge to support IAEA efforts to transition to a credible and transparent information-driven safeguards approach that evaluates all relevant nuclear activities in a state; and to implement the state level approach and the additional protocol effectively and efficiently.

Looking to the future, we can begin to form working groups to meet regularly to pursue opportunities for cooperation in key areas, such as safeguards policy, concepts and approaches, safeguards technology, training the next generation of experts, and infrastructure development.

Over the next few days, I look forward to learning about your interests and activities related to international safeguards, to discussing areas of potential future cooperation, and to building a shared commitment to strengthening safeguards as a central pillar of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Thank you, and please accept my best wishes for a successful and productive meeting.


Tokai-mura, Japan