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U.S., China Advance Nuclear Safety and Security Cooperation through Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology (PUNT) Agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Anne Harrington, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and Hao Weiping, Deputy Director General of the Electric Power Department of the China National Energy Administration (NEA), co-chaired the 7th Joint Coordinating Committee meeting of the 1998 U.S.-China Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology (PUNT) Agreement in Washington, D.C., on April 9–12, 2012. Both countries reviewed progress made under each of the five PUNT working groups, explored common interests, and identified next steps to initiate, advance, and strengthen technical collaborations in nuclear safety and security.

“The United States is pleased to host the 7th meeting of the U.S.-China PUNT Joint Coordinating Committee,” said Harrington. “Our PUNT activities represent longstanding cooperation between the United States and China to advance peaceful uses of nuclear technology. As nuclear power expands around the world, the United States and China share an interest in ensuring this growth is carried out responsibly.”

The Joint Coordinating Committee meets annually to manage and oversee bilateral technical cooperation pursued under the PUNT Agreement. The PUNT agreement is a formal government-to-government mechanism established to support the civilian development of nuclear energy in both countries while addressing nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation issues.

“China and the United States recognize the significant benefits of using nuclear power and actively support the development of civil nuclear applications without compromising nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation objectives,” said Deputy Director General Hao. “Under the PUNT framework, both sides continue to promote effective and efficient measures to enhance peaceful uses of nuclear energy and strengthen public acceptance by advancing nuclear technology research and development, providing personnel training, assuring reliable nuclear fuel supply, developing spent fuel and radioactive waste management concepts, and implementing Nuclear Security Summit objectives.”  

U.S. government agencies participating in PUNT meetings include NNSA, the Department of Energy’s Offices of Nuclear Energy and Environmental Management, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Departments of State and Commerce. The China National Energy Administration leads U.S.-China PUNT discussions for the People’s Republic of China and is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the China Atomic Energy Authority, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.  

There are five working groups under the PUNT: (1) Nuclear Energy Technologies; (2) Safeguards and Security; (3) Environment and Waste Management; (4) Nuclear Emergency Management; and (5) Radiological Source Security.

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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. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce 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.