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U.S., China Expand Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology

BEIJING – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the China National Energy Administration today announced that they have agreed to continue expanding cooperation between the United States and China on nuclear security issues. 

During a meeting of the Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) of the U.S.-China Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology (PUNT) Agreement, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington and Vice Administrator Qian Zhimin of the China National Energy Administration agreed that Chinese and U.S. experts would pursue additional areas for cooperation and continue research and development into new technology to guarantee a safe and secure nuclear future. They also agreed to establish a new joint working group on radioactive source security and stressed the importance of developing nuclear safety, safeguards and security in parallel.

This week’s meeting is the latest example of the expanding nuclear security cooperation between the United States and China. Earlier this year, during a state visit to Washington, D.C., by Chinese President Hu Jintao, the United States and China announced a memorandum of understanding for work at a Center of Excellence of nuclear security near Beijing. 

“This meeting demonstrates the broad range of active and vital cooperation between the United States and China and reaffirms our mutual commitment to implementing the nuclear security agendas of our presidents,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator Harrington. “This framework also facilitates a broad group of important bilateral initiatives between our two countries, including the U.S. - China Bilateral Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperative Action Plan.”
Co-chaired by Ms. Harrington and Mr. Qian, this was the 6th meeting of the JCC. In addition to NNSA and the China National Energy Administration, the JCC also included representatives from the China Atomic Energy Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy and the U.S. Department of State.  

The two-day meeting consisted of plenary sessions and working group breakout sessions to discuss joint projects and exchange information on a comprehensive range of mutual interests, including emergency management, nuclear energy, nuclear security, nuclear safeguards, export controls, radioactive waste, and environmental management.

Signed in 1998, the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology Agreement is a legally binding mechanism between the United States and China that allows for bilateral technical cooperation in civil nuclear energy and nonproliferation. Over the years, this cooperation has covered a wide variety of areas, including nuclear technology and export controls, nuclear emergency management and safety, and high level waste management.

For example, since 2004 under the PUNT Agreement, NNSA’s Material Protection, Control & Accounting (MPC&A) Program has worked with China on the development of domestic nuclear security best practices, and the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI) has worked to improve safeguards for advanced fuel cycle facilities. The Office of International Emergency Management and Cooperation has worked with China to develop and conduct emergency management training courses and shared data on emergency preparedness and response programs. Similarly, since 2007 the PUNT Agreement has facilitated efforts by NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative to work with its partners in China to improve radioactive source security. 

The next JCC meeting will be held in 2012 in Washington, D.C. 

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.