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Director General Grossi Meets Senior US Officials, Sees Strong Support for IAEA

Washington, D.C.

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IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi meets US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo in Washington, D.C. (Photo: F. Everett/U.S.State Department) 

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and other senior US officials and said they had expressed continued strong backing for the work of the IAEA in fostering global peace and development.

In a series of high-level meetings at the White House, Department of State and Department of Energy on Tuesday, Mr Grossi discussed his priorities for change at the IAEA in coming years.

Further expanding the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology will help the world meet the many challenges it is facing, including climate change, he said. Mr Grossi emphasised the IAEA’s efforts to enhance nuclear safety and security and its assistance to countries introducing or planning to introduce nuclear energy, as well as the increased effectiveness of its nuclear verification work, dealing with growing amounts of nuclear material under safeguards. 

The discussions in Washington D.C. also covered topical verification matters. Mr Grossi stressed the impartial, technical and professional nature of the IAEA’s safeguards activities.

The two-day stay in the US capital was his first official visit to the country since taking office two months ago. It followed work trips to Egypt and Spain in December, the latter to attend the United Nations climate conference in Madrid and highlight the role of nuclear energy in combatting the warming of the planet.

The United States is the single largest contributor to the IAEA’s regular budget. It also provides significant extra-budgetary funding, which – together with such support also from other Member States – has enabled the Agency to step up its assistance in areas benefiting millions of people around the world, such as food security, cancer care, nutrition, animal health, water management, energy planning and others.  

“I’m very encouraged by what I heard in my meetings. Secretary Pompeo and other senior US Government representatives showed great appreciation for the work that we do and support for me as Director General,” Mr Grossi said. He also held discussions with Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Kristine Svinicki, Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Christopher Ford and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Jonathan Moore.

“Many people mainly know about the IAEA as the world’s nuclear watchdog, but our Member States also see our activities in support of sustainable development as hugely important,” he said.

For example, generous funding from several countries  – including the US – has in recent years paved the way for a major renovation of the IAEA’s laboratories in Seibersdorf, outside Vienna, which carry out research on using nuclear techniques to suppress insect pests, detect food fraud, fight human and animal diseases and much more.

However, with national budgets increasingly under pressure, Mr Grossi has singled out resource mobilization as one of his key priorities, a policy initiative that includes reaching out to new partners among international financial institutions and in the private sector.

“It will be difficult to secure a significant increase in our budget in the years ahead, and we need to find new ways to fund our activities which, I believe, will help multiply the impact of our work on cancer and other areas,” he said.

At the Department of Energy, he met Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Undersecretary for Nuclear Security, to discuss next week’s IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Security in Vienna. She and other US officials welcomed the IAEA’s decision to hold its 2021 Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the United States.

On Wednesday, Mr Grossi will address a luncheon event at the Carnegie Endowment think-tank, which will be streamed online.

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Last update: 05 Feb 2020

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