IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei today welcomed delegates at the opening of a one-day Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) meeting in Vienna being hosted by the Government of the United States.
As part of US President George Bush´s Advanced Energy Initiative, GNEP is a global collaboration among those States that share the common vision of the need for expanding nuclear energy for peaceful purposes worldwide in a safe and secure manner. It aims to accelerate development and deployment of advanced fuel cycle technologies to encourage clean development and prosperity worldwide, improve the environment, and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. States participating in this cooperation would not give up any rights, and voluntarily engage to share the effort and gain the benefits of economical, peaceful nuclear energy.
In his remarks, Dr. ElBaradei welcomed GNEP as ´a major initiative that is badly needed, therefore very timely´.
He also spoke of the importance of multinational fuel cycle initiatives currently being formulated by several parties from around the world, including the IAEA, describing them as all good initiatives going in the right direction. "GNEP, however, is a much more ambitious and comprehensive proposal because it deals with all aspects of the fuel cycle, both the front end and the back end," he remarked.
Dr. ElBaradei also highlighted the importance of energy for a country´s economic development, linking this issue to that of the need of a more effective system of international security, and of energy security for all. "At the St. Petersburg G8 Summit last year the focus was energy security, and I made it clear that for me energy security is energy security for all, for developed and developing countries alike," he said.
Representatives from 38 countries and three key intergovernmental organisations are attending the GNEP meeting. Some countries have already subscribed to GNEP, while others are considering doing so. Several States that have expressed an interest in GNEP are attending the event as observers.
GNEP will be pursued, among other things, with the objective of expanding the use of nuclear power to help meet growing energy demand in a sustainable and safe and secure manner. To this end, it also aims at deploying advanced fast reactors that consume transuranic elements from recycled spent fuel, promoting the development of advanced, more proliferation resistant nuclear power reactors for developing countries, and developing advanced technologies for recycling spent nuclear fuel for deployment in facilities that do not separate pure plutonium.
GNEP also aims at establishing international supply frameworks to enhance reliable, cost-effective fuel services and supplies to the world market, providing options for generating nuclear energy and fostering development while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation by creating a viable alternative to acquisition of sensitive fuel cycle technologies.
In June 2007, Dr. ElBaradei presented a report on a multilateral framework for nuclear energy to the Agency´s Board of Governors. The report, entitled Possible New Framework for the Utilization of Nuclear Energy: Options for Assurance of Supply of Nuclear Fuel, addressed proposals put forward over the past two years by various States and institutions. Some proposals call for the creation of an actual or virtual reserve fuel bank of last resort, under IAEA auspices, for the assurance of supply of nuclear fuel. This bank would operate on the basis of apolitical and non-discriminatory non-proliferation criteria. Others call for conversion of a national facility into an international enrichment centre. Still others call for the construction of a new, multinational enrichment facility under IAEA control.