Good afternoon. I would like to thank President Koguchi and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) for the kind invitation to join you all today as part of the Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Security (ISCN) International Forum. This annual forum is an integral part of the international discourse on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, nuclear nonproliferation, and nuclear safety and security.

I am honored to follow Ambassador Hayashi in speaking with you today and congratulate the Japanese government on its outstanding leadership of the G7 this year under Prime Minister Kishida’s guidance and vision. The G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament is a critical achievement in our collective efforts on nuclear disarmament – an endeavor I know friends, allies, and other likeminded countries share. And I extend my thanks to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for shepherding this important effort. 

It was a fitting and solemn undertaking that we reaffirmed our shared commitment to nuclear disarmament when G7 Leaders met in Hiroshima earlier this year in recognition of the unprecedented devastation and immense human suffering witnessed there and in Nagasaki in 1945. I welcome Ambassador Hayashi’s remarks and agree there is much more we can do together in meeting some of our most pressing international security and nonproliferation challenges.

As democracies, advanced economies, allies, and friends, the United States and Japan are motivated by international norms and shared values, such as a free and open international order based on the rule of law, respect for the UN Charter, and international cooperation in promoting peace, stability, and prosperity. 

But these values and long-standing principles are not shared by all. As Secretary Blinken articulated during a speech this September, “Decades of relative geopolitical stability have given way to an intensifying competition” with authoritarian and revisionist powers. “Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine is the most immediate, the most acute threat to the international order enshrined in the UN Charter and its core principles of sovereignty, integrity, and independence for nations.” At the same time, “the People’s Republic of China poses the most significant long-term challenge because it not only aspires to reshape the international order,” it has the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so. “And Beijing and Moscow are working together to make the world safe for autocracy through their ‘no limits partnership.’”

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine– a sovereign and independent country– demonstrates the clear threat to international peace and security the Putin regime poses not only in Europe but worldwide. Russia’s irresponsible and dangerous actions targeting and seizing control of some of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities have not only compromised the IAEA’s seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security, they have infringed on Ukraine’s right to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program and shown that Russia is not a reliable or a viable partner. 

Russia has placed all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities in a precarious situation. It continuously shells areas near nuclear facilities and has forcefully seized and militarized others. It positions military equipment and personnel at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, unnecessarily increasing the risk of radiological release. Meanwhile, Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation, ROSATOM, has imposed its own oversight with blatant disregard for the competent Ukrainian authorities. 

The IAEA has already documented small non-radioactive leaks in steam generators. And the IAEA has reported repeated losses of ZNPP’s connection to off-site power, forcing the use of backup diesel generators for reactor cooling– including as recently as two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Russia’s placement of military personnel and equipment at the plant create a dangerous situation for Ukrainian personnel working there and should be removed immediately.

Russia is not a reliable steward of nuclear safety and security, continuously causing unacceptable levels of risk and threats at Ukrainian nuclear facilities. The availability of adequately experienced technical personnel to operate and maintain ZNPP safely and securely at the plant is not assured, particularly as Russia deploys ROSATOM officials who are unauthorized to operate the facilities, a situation IAEA Director General Grossi has called “not sustainable” and “risks nuclear safety and security.” 

The reliability of offsite power and the stability of the site’s cooling water supply is also in question. The destruction of a nearby dam and damage to the reservoir eliminated the principal reliable source of cooling water. Russia has placed unauthorized and unlicensed Russian personnel at ZNPP who lack training and experience at the plant.   And Russia is not allowing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator to properly manage the plant. Also, Russia has disconnected environmental radiation monitors, which automatically report directly to the IAEA and Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.  Further, Russia has repeatedly denied IAEA permission to visit all areas of the plant and has only recently permitted limited access to all control rooms.

So, how do responsible and principled international actors respond to such reckless behavior?   

The United States, Japan, and other responsible countries have come together in strongly condemning Putin’s aggression and taken actions to hold his regime and its enablers accountable. And we are working together to address ZNPP’s urgent situation and reduce the threat of radiological release in the near term while strengthening the international system of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation through peaceful uses of nuclear energy and civil nuclear cooperation in the long term. 

In Hiroshima, G7 Leaders reaffirmed our support for Ukraine will not waver, and we will not tire in our commitment to mitigate the impact of Russia’s illegal actions on the rest of the world. Through direct support to Ukraine and working with likeminded countries and the IAEA, the United States is doing just that.

The United States joined Japan and other responsible countries in strongly supporting the IAEA’s efforts to secure full and unfettered access to all areas of ZNPP and all other Russian-occupied and ROSATOM-operated nuclear facilities, to assess their safety and security and support the implementation of safeguards in Ukraine.  And we will continue to work within and with the IAEA to uphold these vital efforts.

In recent months, once again, we supported IAEA Board of Governors and General Conference resolutions calling on Russia to immediately withdraw all personnel – military and civilian – from ZNPP and return full control to Ukraine; calling on Russia to cease all violent actions against Ukrainian nuclear facilities; as well as rejecting Russia’s attempt to take ownership of ZNPP and its claimed annexation of Ukrainian territory. 

In addition, since Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, the United States has provided equipment, training, and technical advice to Ukrainian partners to reduce nuclear risks at ZNPP. And we will continue to aid Ukraine in its efforts to repair the damage caused by Russia’s seizure of the site and restore power production once the plant is returned to Ukrainian control and combat operations in the area cease.  And working closely with international partners remains an important element to assisting Ukraine in maintaining the safe and secure operations of its nuclear facilities.  For example, in collaboration with the European Union, Norway, and the United Kingdom, we have contributed toward a joint project to modernize and replace vital equipment within the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, including the provision of radiation portal monitors, and expect to expand our support in the coming months.  We would also like to recognize the leadership of France and Saudi Arabia and their work with Ukraine in the Peace Formula Working Group on Nuclear Safety.

Over the long term, we need to address Russia’s use of nuclear energy supply via ROSATOM, as it does with oil and gas, to exert strategic and geopolitical leverage over current and prospective customers globally. Russia has repeatedly threatened to withhold critical supplies, contradicting its claim of being a trustworthy partner. Business with such an uncertain supplier simply cannot continue.

The global community needs nuclear energy suppliers that are reliable and dependable. The United States, Japan, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom share common visions of democracy as well as safe and secure global economic and energy systems. Collectively, our five nations control 50 percent of the world’s uranium conversion and enrichment production capacity.

Together, we are firmly resolved to increase production capacity in our and likeminded nations and commit to establishing a global uranium supply market free from manipulation and influence by autocratic and predatory nations.  

To this end, our five countries have identified potential areas of collaboration on nuclear fuels to support a more stable supply for the operating reactor fleets of today, enable the development and deployment of fuels for the advanced reactors of tomorrow, and achieve reduced dependence on Russian ROSATOM supply chains. This multilateral effort aims to recognize and leverage the unique resources and capabilities possessed by each country’s civil nuclear sectors to establish a global commercial nuclear fuel market– collaborating on strategic opportunities in uranium extraction, conversion, enrichment, and fabrication to support our collective climate, energy security, and economic resilience objectives.  This cooperation would enable us to strengthen our domestic sectors and establish a level playing field to compete more effectively against ROSATOM. 

In last year’s G7 Leaders’ Communique, our Leaders made clear our collective intent to reduce reliance on civil nuclear related goods and services from Russia, including working bilaterally to assist countries seeking to diversify their nuclear fuel supply chains. And we are already seeing progress.

French nuclear energy company Orano is investing €1.7 billion to increase its uranium enrichment capacity. Urenco USA has announced a production capacity of 700,000 SWU enrichment production by 2028.  In the United States, we are pursuing other initiatives to increase our domestic capacity. Through the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. Department of Energy has received $700 million to support the availability of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and use. And the Biden-Harris Administration has requested $2.16 billion from Congress to help expand U.S. domestic commercial enriched uranium production to contribute to an international system of reliable and secure civil nuclear supply chains. The request further seeks to authorize utilization of a revolving fund mechanism to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) and HALEU on behalf of U.S. buyers and reinvest the sales revenue into new uranium production capacity.

While all these measures are helping to address the problem of dependence on Russian nuclear supply, they are also advancing the critical role peaceful uses of nuclear energy play in achieving international global climate and energy security goals. 

Last week in Dubai at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), the United States joined Japan and dozens of other countries from four continents to launch the Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy Capacity by 2050.  The Declaration recognizes the key role of nuclear energy in achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and keeping the 1.5-degree Celsius limit on temperature rise goal within reach. The Declaration also highlights the need for secure supply chains and encourages the World Bank and other financial institutions to include nuclear energy in their lending policies. 

Toward this goal, the United States also announced the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Department of State have developed key measures to increase access to safe and secure nuclear energy supplies via small modular reactors or SMRs. A suite of financial tools will support export financing of U.S. SMR designs and technology to meet international demand in a competitive market. This endeavor builds upon other initiatives such as the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of SMR Technology (FIRST) and Project Phoenix that have contributed to regional and bilateral training in Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America as well as other nuclear workforce development and capacity building for the safe and secure operation of SMRs.

And we were similarly proud in Dubai to join Japan, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom in the Sapporo 5 grouping to further expand nuclear fuel production by investing at least $4.2 billion in government-led investment in our nations’ collective enrichment and conversion capacity over the next three years with a view to catalyze private sector finance. And we have encouraged other likeminded countries to join the commitment through public-private investment in a safe and secure nuclear supply chain.

When you consider all of these undertakings, our intent could not be clearer. Together, we are supporting Ukraine and the IAEA to reduce radiological release risk and support nuclear safeguards, safety, and security in an active war zone – an unprecedented endeavor.  We are holding Russia and its enablers to account in multilateral and international fora.  And we are quickly making strides to ensure a reliable and safe nuclear fuels and services market that supports peaceful uses of nuclear energy to address shared energy security and climate goals.  With this progress, I am more hopeful for the future while remaining vigilant about the challenges we face in nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation today.

Indeed, we must continue to remain alert and uphold our shared values and commitments to international standards. There is enough international momentum from likeminded countries who seek responsible and dependable partnership, recognizing that our shared challenges are best resolved by working together. And our hope and investment in a more prosperous and secure future for all is worth the effort. 

We need only look to the tragedies of the past to see what it could mean if we fail to uphold the highest standards of nuclear security, safety, nonproliferation, and disarmament now and in the future. Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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