Thank you very much, Mr. Kuchinov, for hosting us here today and for providing the U.S. delegation with the opportunity to personally witness an historic moment: the final delivery of low enriched uranium under the 1993 HEU Purchase Agreement. Today is not the end of our 20-year cooperation under this important Agreement, but it is a major milestone in the Agreement’s success.
The final LEU delivery is not an achievement to be claimed by a single agency, administration, or even country. Rather, the shared benefits of this Agreement- in energy, national security, commerce, and nuclear nonproliferation- have been accrued over the course of our long and fruitful partnership. The scale of our joint accomplishments under this Agreement is monumental:
• Material equivalent to 20,000 nuclear warheads has been converted into fuel used to generate nearly 10% of all U.S. electricity over the past 15 years;
• Groundbreaking technical cooperation forged to develop and implement a rigorous transparency regime;
• A two-decade reciprocal monitoring presence maintained in sensitive U.S. and Russian nuclear material processing facilities; and
• Significant progress made toward our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Article VI commitments.
Meeting Prague Speech and NPT Article VI Commitments
The milestone we are celebrating today would not be possible if not for the remarkable continuity of support and commitment that the Agreement has enjoyed at the highest levels of the U.S. and Russian Governments for over 20 years.
In the United States, four consecutive U.S. Presidential administrations have maintained this unwavering commitment to the success of the HEU Agreement. I know that for President Obama, the Agreement has a special resonance, because of its role in his long-term vision for the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons – a vision first outlined in his 2009 Prague speech and reiterated this year in Berlin.
The fact that President Obama devoted the first major foreign policy speech of his Presidency to nuclear security, nonproliferation and arms control indicates the depth of his personal commitment to these endeavors.
The United States has worked with partners all over the world to follow through on the President’s commitment to secure or eliminate all vulnerable weapons-usable nuclear material. Next year, world leaders will attend the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague to demonstrate progress achieved since the 2010 and 2012 Summits and to address the nuclear material security challenges that remain. No partner is more essential to the success of this endeavor than Russia.
Our countries still possess the most nuclear weapons and fissile material in the world by far and we share the unique obligation to lead the world toward a more secure future. That is why we are working together within the framework of the P-5 to demonstrate clear, tangible progress on our NPT Article VI commitments and why we plan to proudly highlight the achievements of the HEU Purchase Agreement at the upcoming NPT Preparatory Committee meeting this spring in New York.
As we plan the future of cooperation between our countries, we should hold up the HEU Agreement as an ideal of what is possible. The scope of the Agreement’s accomplishments raises the bar for bilateral engagement. It should inspire U.S. and Russian colleagues to think and work creatively on the basis of mutual respect and shared interest. There are also elements of the HEU Agreement that can be applied in future bilateral cooperation:
• Holistic Approach: While the combined commercial and nonproliferation benefits of the HEU Agreement are clear, the Agreement also strengthened our bilateral arms control agreements by helping to make negotiated reductions in deployed nuclear warheads irreversible. Future agreements should also take into account both disarmament and nonproliferation goals.
• Lifecycle Solution: The Agreement confronted the challenge of excess fissile material security with a permanent solution, not a short-term fix. The HEU eliminated under the Agreement avoids the costs of sustained security upgrades and is instead “secure in perpetuity.”
• Cost Effectiveness: In an era of fiscal austerity, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Agreement was a fundamentally good deal – one that benefitted all involved. It harnessed existing infrastructure, technology and industry to achieve a major nonproliferation goal at a reasonable cost to the United States. At the same time, Russia was able to leverage substantial value from its legacy nuclear weapons material.
• Government-Industry Partnership: Commercial implementation was expertly handled by our Executive Agents, USEC and Tenex, in conjunction with the consortium of Western Companies: Cameco, Areva, and NUKEM.
In sum, the HEU Agreement has been a true partnership and the embodiment of turning swords into ploughshares: weapons built for unparalleled destruction became a source for energy production.
Atoms for Peace
As you all may know, December 8th is the 60th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech to the United Nations. In that speech, President Eisenhower called for the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency and for the benefits of atomic medicine, energy, and science to serve all mankind.
I know Secretary Moniz will want to elaborate on this theme when he hosts Mr. Kiriyenko in Washington next month to celebrate the arrival of the final LEU shipment in the United States. But I want to take a moment to marvel: who could have imagined in 1953 that a deal like the HEU Purchase Agreement was even possible, let alone that we would be here today, commemorating a major milestone in its successful completion?
I mentioned earlier that the accomplishment we witnessed today, the final delivery of LEU, does not belong to a single country, administration or agency. This success does not even belong to a single generation. My Department of Energy colleagues told me that on one of their final monitoring visits to the Siberian Chemical Enterprises, their security escort of over 15 years informed the team that he was retiring and that he had been training his replacement. When he introduced his successor at the end of the visit, my DOE colleagues realized that it was his own son. Vasiliy Dmitriyevich started the program and Andrey Vasiliyevich completed it. What a wonderful family business: working to convert nuclear weapons into electricity.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have participated in the work of this historic Agreement while I served as an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Energy and now in my role at the Department of State. I know everyone here takes immense pride in leaving such a legacy for our families, our countries and the world.
I thank you again for hosting us, Mr. Kuchinov, and I thank my American and Russian government colleagues, as well as the representatives from USEC, Tenex, and the Western Companies who worked tirelessly over the past 20 years to make today’s success possible.
I wish Captain Belyakov, his crew and his cargo a safe voyage across the ocean and I hope to see you all at our next celebration in Washington in December.