15 November 2002
Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/cgi-bin/washfile/display.pl?p=/products/washfile/latest&f=02111403.plt&t=/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml

US Department of State
International Information Programs

Washington File

14 November 2002

Abraham Calls on Nations to Secure Civil Nuclear Materials

(Energy Secretary says 2003 conference will address "dirty bomb" issue) (3410)

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says it would not take "exorbitant
quantities of nuclear or radiological materials" for terrorists or
rogue states to produce a "dirty bomb" or radiological dispersal

In a November 14 keynote address to the 2002 Carnegie International
Non-Proliferation Conference in Washington, Abraham said "there is no
margin for error" since there are both states and sub-state actors
seeking nuclear or radiological materials. Too much uranium and
plutonium "remains under-secured," he said.

"We all need to apply the best technologies, the best know-how,
experience, and expertise that we can to this problem," he said.
Countries need to think about what steps they need to take to address
the threat.

"The United States is employing a multi-pronged strategy, expanding
materials protection programs, accelerating its assistance to other
countries under the Second Line of Defense program, working with our
own customs organization, and expanding research and development to
detect nuclear materials," he said. "We are all vulnerable, so we all
have to work together," Abraham added.

The secretary also said there are plans to hold an international
conference in Vienna in March 2003 to address the threats posed by
radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) and unsecured civil nuclear
materials. "The relative simplicity of constructing a dirty bomb,
coupled with the widespread availability of suitable radioactive
material," he said, makes it clear "that the civilized nations of the
world must come together to address these threats."

His remarks also touched on recent efforts to address vulnerabilities
taken by Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, Yugoslavia and

Following is the text of Abraham's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

"Ten Principles for Nuclear and Radiological Materials Security"
Remarks of Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham
to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
International Non-Proliferation Conference
November 14, 2002

Good morning. It's an honor to be here. I'd like to extend my thanks
to Jessica Mathews and Joseph Cirincionne of the Carnegie Endowment
for sponsoring this conference. I'd also like to thank Rose
Gottemoeller for that kind introduction.

And let me say how pleased I am to discuss a matter on which I place
the highest priority -- the ongoing efforts of the United States to
secure and reduce nuclear and radiological materials.

The Bush administration is fully committed to this agenda, and I think
what we have accomplished by establishing the G-8 Global Partnership
Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction
indicates the seriousness of purpose we bring to it. Indeed, this is a
challenge shared by all the civilized nations of the world, and
certainly President Bush's leadership has been crucial to bringing the
international community together to find the common ground necessary
to counter a threat common to each of us.

The president made this clear last May, when he and President Putin
jointly committed to "work closely together, including through
cooperative programs, to ensure the security of weapons of mass
destruction and missile technologies, information, expertise, and

It was a commitment taken very seriously throughout our administration
and is reflected prominently in our recently published national
security strategy. That document asserts that "strengthened
nonproliferation efforts to prevent rogue states and terrorists from
acquiring the materials, technology, and expertise necessary for
weapons of mass destruction" are a very high priority for this

The materials necessary to build nuclear weapons -- highly enriched
uranium and plutonium -- may not be widely available, but they can be
extraordinarily dangerous. We know that too much uranium and plutonium
remains under-secured.

The materials that could be used in radiological dispersal devices, or
RDDs, while perhaps not as dangerous, are available in virtually every
country in the world.

Addressing the non-proliferation question is among the most serious
responsibilities I have as Energy Secretary, and one on which I have
spent a lot of time working. In nearly two years in office, I've
organized my thoughts into 10 principles for nuclear and radiological
security. Today I want to discuss these 10 principles, how the United
States is implementing them, and I want to highlight the challenges
the world faces. I hope you find this approach useful.

Principle One: The threat continues to evolve. Over the past decade or
so, thinking about the proliferation threat has focused mostly on
rogue states seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, or the
materials needed to acquire them -- and on the problems caused by
under-secured nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.

Now, the international community is additionally focusing on threats
posed by terrorist networks that seek such weapons and materials. Such
threats have long been a concern, of course, but now they are a far
greater focus of attention. And much more attention is being paid to
the risks associated with the misuse of radiological materials -- a
concern hardly thought about until the past year.

September 11, 2001, made these concerns more immediate. That day
demonstrated the unblinking commitment that terrorists have to mass
destruction -- including their blithe indifference toward killing
thousands of innocents. If these purveyors of hate managed to acquire
the deadly materials necessary for nuclear or radiological weapons,
they would surely find ways to use them.

The United States is meeting this challenge by accelerating programs,
increasing their funding, and looking for new approaches. To that end
we have forged a strong relationship with my counterpart from Russia's
Ministry of Atomic Energy, Alexander Rumyantsev, who has played a key
role in the progress we are making.

Moreover, in three speeches to the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) in Vienna since 9/11, I have emphasized a simple but
irrefutable message: We are all vulnerable, so we all have to work

Principle Two: The margin of error is small. In the past decade alone,
the IAEA has reported about 200 attempts at the illicit smuggling of
nuclear materials. Some reports are more credible than others, and
most involve materials not always considered a threat. But this
phenomenon nonetheless tells us a number of things.

-- First, there are any number of states and sub-state actors
interested in acquiring nuclear or radiological materials.

-- Second, we do not know what we do not know. In February 2002, the
CIA's National Intelligence Council concluded, "We assess that
undetected smuggling has occurred, although we do not know the extent
or magnitude of such threats."

-- And third, even a little success in smuggling or theft can have a
great impact. Terrorists or rogue states do not need exorbitant
quantities of nuclear or radiological materials to achieve their ends.
Based on IAEA calculations, only a relatively small amount of highly
enriched uranium could be enough for a nuclear explosive device. And
if the goal is to build a radiological dispersal device, or "dirty
bomb," the amount can be even less, depending on the material used.

So there is no margin for error. We all need to apply the best
technologies, the best know-how, experience, and expertise that we can
to this problem. The United States is employing a multi-pronged
strategy, expanding materials protection programs, accelerating its
assistance to other countries under the Second Line of Defense
program, working with our own customs organization, and expanding
research and development to detect nuclear materials. Others need to
think about similar steps.

Principle Three: The problem demands a broad array of responses.
Nuclear and radiological materials security is a multifaceted problem.
Physically securing nuclear materials is critical, but it is only part
of the solution. I find useful the following framework for thinking
about how to address nuclear material security:

-- First, nuclear material can be made more physically secure. Border
monitoring, export controls, and other measures, including the
application of safeguards by the IAEA, also help to ensure that
nuclear materials stay where they are supposed to be.

-- Second, nuclear material can be consolidated. By reducing the
number of sites storing this material, we can reduce vulnerability to
threat or sabotage.

-- Third, nuclear material can be reduced. The total amount of this
material needs to be brought down -- for example, through down
blending HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium), or burning plutonium as MOX
(Mixed Oxide -- plutonium/uranium nuclear fuels) fuel in nuclear power
plants so that it can no longer be used for nuclear weapons.

-- Finally, the production of excess nuclear material can be ended.
The value of reducing nuclear materials increases greatly, if at the
same time no more such material is being produced.

What all this tells us is that we need to address the nuclear
materials security problem comprehensively -- in all its dimensions.

Principle Four: There are good reasons to focus on Russia. A January
2001 report noted that the fall of the Soviet Union led to "the
dissolution of an empire having over 40,000 nuclear weapons, (and)
over a thousand metric tons of nuclear materials," and that Russia
lacked the infrastructure "to assure that chains of command remain
intact and nuclear weapons and materials remain securely beyond the
reach of terrorists and weapons-proliferating states."

We've paid so much attention to Russia because that is where the
material is.

And we have had much success. In part, that is due to Russia's own
strong commitment to reducing nuclear materials threats -- as I have
seen firsthand on numerous occasions. As a result, Russia and the
United States have enjoyed unprecedented cooperation over the past few
years. This has led to a number of agreements and accomplishments:

-- Security upgrades to MinAtom's (Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy)
nuclear weapons complex should be completed in 2008. Security upgrades
to the Russian Navy's entire nuclear weapons arsenal, about 4,000
total weapons, should be completed by 2005. We are ahead of previous
estimates for completing this work.

-- The United States and Russia will dispose of additional nuclear
material, beyond that stipulated in existing agreements. We have
agreed, for example, that the United States will purchase additional
HEU from Russia. We're going to do more.

-- We're going to shut down the three reactors in Russia that are
still producing about 1.5 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium every

-- And, over the next year, border security upgrades will increase
from four to 21 sites in Russia and the Ukraine -- an important
contribution to international efforts to curtail nuclear smuggling.

The United States and Russia have taken major steps to secure Russian
materials, but there is much more to be done. Which brings me to my
fifth principle:

Principle Five: This is a worldwide problem demanding international
solutions. I'm gratified to see steps being taken by many countries.

Working with the United States, for example, the Ukrainian government
has made significant progress in protecting materials at nuclear
facilities. The United States recently completed critical physical
protection improvements at the Nuclear Research Institute in Rez, in
the Czech Republic. And the United States assisted Uzbekistan in
completing security upgrades that reduce the vulnerability of
sensitive facilities in that country.

The international cooperation that was demonstrated in the recent
effort at the Vinca research reactor in Yugoslavia, where enough
nuclear material for more than two nuclear weapons was removed, was
exemplary. Russia, Yugoslavia, the IAEA, and an American
non-governmental organization, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, all made
critical contributions to this operation.

Vinca laid bare the potential security risks posed by HEU fuel at
former Soviet-supplied research reactors in approximately 17
countries. This fuel needs to be repatriated to Russia, where it will
be safer from the risk of theft or diversion. We -- and the Russians
-- are committed to accelerating the conversion of these reactors, and
removing the fuel posing proliferation risks.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a recent effort in the Republic of
Georgia that demonstrated international cooperation at its finest.
With the help of the IAEA, Georgia recently recovered six radioactive
thermal generators, or RTGs, that had been in that country since the
days of the Soviet Union. These Soviet-era portable heat sources were
radioactive and considered highly vulnerable. I'm proud that DOE is
now assisting the Georgians in improving the security of these

The G-8 Global Partnership well demonstrates how nations can
cooperatively address nuclear and radiological material security
challenges. The G-8 has committed $20 billion [$20,000 million] over
the next 10 years to pursue critical non-proliferation projects. I
believe that the Global Partnership has the potential to establish a
coordinated non-proliferation effort with a global reach -- as
reflected in the substantial resource commitments that the G-8 allies
are making to address proliferation threats.

The Global Partnership will affect United States nuclear
non-proliferation programs in many ways. Allied contributions could
help us move forward on plutonium disposition, for example, or permit
us to accelerate the closure of Russia's remaining plutonium
production reactors. The visible involvement of the world's leading
economies in cooperative non-proliferation efforts demonstrates that
eliminating such threats is a global responsibility. The challenges we
face are global; the solutions must be global as well.

The United States is already working closely with our G-8 partners to
identify ways to carry out the ambitious goals the Global Partnership
has established. I personally believe that the Global Partnership will
make a major contribution to reducing nuclear and radiological
materials threats, and it will be exciting to see its potential
unleashed over the next few years

Principle Six: The potential misuse of radiological sources needs to
be addressed. I've focused my comments on nuclear materials security.
But September l1 has also led many of us to think more about the
potential misuse of radiological sources that are both much more
abundant and much less secure. These materials could be used to make
radiological dispersal devices, so-called "dirty bombs."

This is an urgent problem and we need to treat it as such. As I said
in Vienna at the IAEA General Conference two months ago, "Addressing
the threats posed by radiological dispersal devices cannot be put off
to be handled later.… (We need) to reduce the vulnerability of the
most dangerous of these materials to acquisition by those seeking to
use them as weapons of terror."

Since September 11, the United States has begun working bilaterally
with Former Soviet Union [FSU] states, including Russia, to enhance
the security of radiological sources. We are also working with Russia
and the IAEA as part of a "Trilateral Initiative" to locate
Russian-origin sources in the FSU and return them to Russia for final

Other nations must be involved to address this threat. At the recent
meeting of the IAEA, I proposed an international conference to promote
greater international appreciation of this potential danger, and to
begin mapping out steps to address this problem. The relative
simplicity of constructing a dirty bomb, coupled with the widespread
availability of suitable radioactive material, made it clear to me
that the civilized nations of the world must come together to address
these threats. In fact, this is an area where virtually all the
international community should play a role.

Yesterday IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei and I formally
announced that such a conference will take place next March in Vienna.
I look forward to working with him and with all of you to identify
meaningful steps we can take to reduce the threat posed by RDDs.

Principle Seven: The IAEA's contribution is invaluable. I am gratified
that soon after I speak, Director General ElBaradei will share his
views with you. Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to
work very closely with the Director General. He is a serious and
deeply committed man.

In working with him, I have come to appreciate just how important the
IAEA is to helping nations grasp nuclear material security problems.
The United States has worked with the IAEA to help conduct 30 training
courses on physical protection, including one just a few weeks from
now in Shanghai. Over 800 students from more than 60 countries have
attended these courses.

The IAEA is also leading the international effort to revise the
Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material -- a
critical instrument in our efforts to better secure fissile materials
-- and we look forward to concluding that effort.

Once agreed, the strengthened Convention will establish a new
foundation to help all states adopt a set of shared standards, with
respect to how we handle and transport nuclear material. Particularly
in light of heightened concerns over terrorism, I encourage the
international community to consider steps to help establish "best
practices and procedures," thereby ensuring nuclear materials are as
safe and secure as they can possibly be.

The IAEA is also instrumental to our efforts to address radiological
security issues. The IAEA can help its members identify resources to
safely dispose of unneeded radiological materials and make available
its invaluable experience, as those member states address radiological
source concerns.

But the IAEA needs resources to do its job. At the recent General
Conference, I urged an increase in the IAEA safeguards budget. Under
my direction, the Department of Energy has made significant voluntary
contributions -- totaling millions of dollars -- to the IAEA to help
it fulfill its mission. The United States will continue to support the
IAEA strongly, because it is foolhardy to do otherwise. I urge all
others to do the same.

Principle Eight: Materials security is ultimately a national
responsibility. One point that I cannot stress too much is that the
responsibility for progress falls on each individual member of the
international community. Those of us that actually have plutonium and
HEU that could be used in weapons programs bear special obligations,
but there is a role -- indeed, a responsibility -- for every nation.

We must move beyond words to deeds. The United States has improved
security since the attacks of September 2001. Now we call on other
states to take comparable steps, where needed, including for civil
nuclear materials. We are prepared to provide expertise and advice
where we can.

Principle Nine: This is a long-term effort. Many materials security
challenges do not lend themselves to short-term solutions. Some of
these materials have half-lives of tens of thousands of years. There
are multiple dimensions to these problems, and numerous strategies
need to be employed -- on multilateral, bilateral, and unilateral
levels -- to address them.

Resources must be committed, equipment must be procured and facilities
built, and all of us must work together to develop solutions that will
stand the test of time. And we need to address many aspects of the
problem at once.

All that said, these problems should not be judged as too overwhelming
to address. Any journey must begin with small steps -- this one is no

Through the cooperative programs I have described, through our
leadership in establishing the Global Partnership, and through the
personal involvement of the President and his cabinet, the United
States is setting in place long-term programs for a long-term

We need others to join us in addressing these threats, however long it
takes to achieve success.

Which brings me to my last principle.

Principle Ten: Success is possible. Two years into my job as Secretary
of Energy, I am convinced that despite the enormity of the challenge,
success is possible. The risks associated with under-secured nuclear
and radiological materials can be reduced.

The steps that the international community is taking -- in Russia,
with the IAEA, through bilateral relationships and international
partnerships such as the G-8, through unilateral efforts --
demonstrate the seriousness with which these problems are being
addressed, and that is all to the good.

Working together, we can make the world safer. We owe our people, our
children, and their children, nothing less.

We owe them a world where nuclear and radiological materials are
secure, not just in Russia but elsewhere throughout the world. We owe
them a world where terrorists have little chance of getting their
hands on these materials -- which just might discourage them from
trying in the first place.

We owe them a world where our borders are secure, and there is little
risk of dangerous materials being shuttled about.

And we owe them a world where nations work together to achieve these
lofty objectives.

I have no illusions that such a day is around the corner. But I do
believe that through cooperation and determination, it is eventually
attainable. And this administration is committed to that objective.

Thank you very much, and best wishes for a successful conference.

(end text)

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