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International Atomic Energy Agency 49th Session of the General Conference

September 26, 2005 - 10:51am


Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman
[Videotaped Remarks as Delivered by Secretary Bodman ]

Good morning.

I regret that I cannot be with you in Vienna due to the extraordinary events related to the recent Hurricanes in the United States - and the continuing recovery efforts that are addressing devastation on our gulf coast.  These two storms have claimed many hundreds of lives, destroyed whole communities, and displaced large numbers of Americans.

As you know, our gulf-coast region is home to a very significant percentage of America's oil and natural gas facilities.

Because of the severity of the most recent storm, Hurricane Rita, and the importance of this region to America's energy supply, my duties as Secretary of Energy require my continued presence in Washington.

On behalf of President Bush, the leadership in Congress and the American people, I want to thank you, your governments and your citizens for the tremendous outpouring of support over the past several weeks. 

In response to tight petroleum markets, many of our countries were able to work cooperatively to calm nervous energy markets across the globe.  And the generosity of your governments and your citizens in the form of financial pledges, personnel, equipment, and disaster supplies is an incredible display of international solidarity.  We are gratified by these actions - actions that exemplify the great sprit of international cooperation that is the engine for institutions such as the IAEA.

In 1953, President Eisenhower, in his famous Atoms for Peace speech, noted that a "special purpose" of atomic energy "would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world."  Over the past 50 years he has been proved right. Nuclear power brought electricity to many corners of the globe.  It helped fuel the post-war economic expansion in the United States, in Europe, and in Japan.

As important as nuclear power has been to the 20th century, however, it will be far more critical to meeting the world's energy needs in the 21st century.  Energy is a necessary engine of economic growth, a key to raising living standards . indeed, a key to raising nations and regions out of poverty. 

Our Administration firmly believes that all responsible nations should have access to peaceful uses of the atom. 

To ensure this access, while minimizing the threat of proliferation, our nations must work together to phase out the use of Highly Enriched Uranium in commercial reactors.  But while doing so, we must also create an environment in which nations are confident in the availability of nuclear fuel.

That is why I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Energy will reserve up to 17 metric tons of highly enriched uranium for an IAEA verifiable assured supply arrangement.  Through this arrangement, I believe we can advance our common goals of fighting proliferation while expanding the use of nuclear power around the globe.  The wide expansion of nuclear energy can only come if the world fully embraces this vision.  This is why the mission of the IAEA is such a worthy one.  Our government applauds the efforts and contributions of the IAEA - and pledges to help ensure that this important body has the tools to continue this critical mission.

Ladies and gentlemen, again, please accept my sincere apologies for not joining you today.  We have important work to do, and important challenges to address.  I wish you a successful and productive conference.

Thank you.