Speaking about the vital role that nuclear energy plays in our low-carbon future, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said the United States is working to reinvigorate its domestic nuclear industry. At the same time, he said the U.S. is working with other nations "to ensure that all countries can access nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in a manner that minimizes proliferation risks."
Addressing the plenary session of the International Conference on Access to Civil Nuclear Energy in Paris, France, March 8th, Deputy Secretary Poneman noted that the administration of President Barack Obama is committed to building a generation of safe, clean, nuclear power plants in the United States.
"Our efforts to reinvigorate the U.S. domestic nuclear industry go hand-in-hand with our efforts in the international arena," said Deputy Secretary Poneman. "Many nations are increasingly turning to nuclear energy as a low-carbon means of meeting growing electricity demand. If nuclear energy is to fulfill its promise to help put us on the path to a low-carbon future, we must do all that we can to assure that the expansion of nuclear energy does not lead to sensitive technologies and materials falling into the wrong hands," he said.
The United States is taking steps to build an international framework for civil nuclear cooperation to ensure that countries have access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes while minimizing the risks of proliferation. At a meeting in Beijing in October 2009 of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which included 25 partners and 31 observer nations, the Partnership's Executive Committee agreed to "explore ways to enhance the international framework for civil nuclear cooperation," noting that "cradle-to-grave nuclear fuel management could be one important element of this framework."
"Such a framework," said Deputy Secretary Poneman, "could rely on a combination of government and industry commitments to reassure states in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations that all of their nuclear fuel servicing needs can be met by the commercial marketplace without fear of disruption."
There are a number of challenging issues that would need to be addressed for this new framework for civil nuclear cooperation to succeed, but the year ahead should provide a number of good opportunities to discuss this with international colleagues.
For its part, said Deputy Secretary Poneman, "The U.S. looks forward to working with the international community and with industry on moving toward a low-carbon future, with nuclear power playing an important role in a manner that is safe, secure, and consistent with the nonproliferation goals we all share."