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Presented at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Media Roundtable

October 27, 2009

Presented at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Media RoundtablePresented by Thomas D'Agostino, Administrator, NNSA

Good Morning. Thank you for joining us today. I’m pleased to be here in Japan to take part in an important international meeting on strengthening nuclear safeguards. 

When Secretary Chu addressed the IAEA General Conference last month, he highlighted our government’s commitment to promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy while strengthening the international safeguards that prevent countries from diverting nuclear materials and technologies to military purposes. 

As part of that, he highlighted NNSA’s Next Generation Safeguards Initiative and announced that we would be co-hosting with our Japanese counterparts the Second International Meeting on Next Generation Safeguards.

That conference began yesterday in Tokai-mura, where safeguards and nonproliferation experts from around the world are meeting to review progress in revitalizing and expanding support for international safeguards. 

I thank Deputy Minister Moriguchi from the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for joining us and for graciously offering to co-sponsor and host this critical meeting. 

I also thank Japan Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Shunsuke Kondo who gave a keynote address yesterday morning.

Our message at the meeting is clear: The entire global community has a major stake in maintaining the effectiveness and credibility of the international safeguards system.

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,
  • ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,
  • negotiating 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 need to strengthen the international safeguards system.  As the President 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 nuclear weapon programs, and provide a robust basis for conclusions about a state’s compliance with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations.  

Together, we are working to develop new techniques and technologies to modernize those safeguards and make them more effective in preventing countries from diverting nuclear materials and technologies to military purposes.

I also had the opportunity to highlight some of our recent accomplishments in this field. Through our Next Generation Safeguard Initiative, in the past two years we have:

  • investigated new measurement techniques;
  • developed in-field detection equipment;
  • explored new concepts such as Safeguards by Design and process monitoring;
  • trained a new generation of safeguards professionals with expertise across a wide range of safeguards-relevant fields; and
  • helped build a safeguards culture in countries pursuing nuclear power. 

At my organization, the National Nuclear Security Administration, this is an excellent example of how we are leveraging the expertise we have gained through 60 years of investing in nuclear security to address some of today’s most important challenges. 

Through NGSI and other programs, NNSA is drawing on the skills and expertise at our labs and throughout the nuclear security enterprise to enhance the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

So, it is a real pleasure to be here to discuss these and other nuclear security issues with you.  I look forward to your questions.


U.S. Embassy, Tokyo