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Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman's Remarks at IFNEC Meeting in Warsaw, Poland - As Prepared for Delivery

September 29, 2011 - 12:00pm

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Thank you, Madame Chairwoman Trojanowska.

On behalf of the United States government, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Government of Poland for hosting and chairing the 2011 International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation Executive Committee meeting. 

Nuclear energy provides the world with hundreds of thousands of megawatts of clean, reliable, low-carbon power, and it has an important role to play as we work to achieve our global objectives to strengthen energy security, to spur economic growth and job creation, and to protect the environment.  We must ensure that it is used in a safe, secure, and responsible manner.

As President Obama has made clear, the United States continues to view nuclear power as an important element of a diverse, low-carbon energy portfolio for our Nation.  And he remains committed to restarting and expanding America’s domestic nuclear industry.

The Fukushima accident reminds us of what we all already know, that it is imperative to focus on nuclear safety.  We must analyze and integrate the lessons and best practices we have learned from the accident into our own operations, assuring that we continue to improve the safety of our existing facilities and the next generation of reactor technologies.  We will only succeed by working together toward continuous improvement.

That is why, in the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted inspections at all 104 U.S. operating reactors to confirm their readiness to manage large-scale natural disasters.  And it is why the IAEA has taken a number of steps to strengthen the framework for nuclear safety worldwide.

Over the past year since we met in Jordan, IFNEC has played an important role in the international arena, bringing together nations from around the world to address the challenges facing the global nuclear energy community.  As an organization where all participating countries participate as equals, IFNEC has shown that it can act as an important international voice supporting nuclear energy, while at the same time respecting the varied policies, priorities and challenges of each IFNEC country.

As an example, last year the IFNEC Executive Committee agreed to explore the financing of nuclear power, which will be essential to the successful expansion of safe, secure nuclear energy around the world.  I am pleased to see the International Framework taking steps to address this critical issue by providing a forum to share information, to learn about effective financing strategies, and to identify options to minimize risk in a manner that takes into account the diversity of IFNEC members.

Financing new nuclear projects, however, is only one part of the equation.  We must also assure that increased proliferation and nuclear security risks do not accompany the expansion of peaceful nuclear power.  The International Framework, through its Working Groups, is undertaking valuable work in this area.

Comprehensive fuel services (CFS) could provide comprehensive, reliable, and commercially-based services around the world, reducing the risk of overbuilding expensive enrichment and reprocessing facilities beyond the needs of the commercial marketplace.  In so doing, CFS can enhance the economic viability of nuclear power by reducing the overall capital costs of a program, which constitute the greatest challenge to the competitiveness of nuclear power in electricity markets around the world.

In addition, comprehensive fuel services are intended to be flexible, so that the specific approach can be tailored to accommodate the unique aspects of individual customers and service providers.  And the international community could rely on a combination of government and industry commitments to reassure reactor operators and their host governments that all of their nuclear fuel servicing needs can be reliably met by the commercial marketplace.

Finally, successfully expanding nuclear energy’s role in a low-carbon future will depend on developing and implementing an effective global infrastructure for the industry, including trained workers, effective regulatory frameworks, and strong safety requirements. 

The International Framework is making important strides working with countries to build the infrastructure necessary for a new or expanded nuclear power programs, including in the area of human resource development. By sharing lessons learned and best practices, we can work together to address these challenges and implement strong infrastructure networks around the world.

Working cooperatively, countries and international organizations represented here today can succeed in building this framework – including financing, comprehensive fuel services, and nuclear infrastructure – so that the expansion of nuclear energy is managed in an economical, safe, and secure manner.

That is why I am so pleased to see so many participants in today’s meeting, representing all regions of the world, as well as the IAEA and the Generation IV International Forum.  In its consensus-based and collaborative fashion, IFNEC provides a useful venue for identifying solutions that address the needs and concerns associated with the access to nuclear power – and all its economic and environmental benefits – worldwide.

I look forward to working with you all throughout the day.  Thank you.

 

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