Steven Chu: An International Fuel Bank Can Ensure Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy

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US Energy Secretary Steven Chu discusses his proposals to encourage the peaceful use of nuclear power at this year's International Atomic Energy Agency gathering in Vienna.

Every year, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog arm of the UN, gathers ministers from around the world to discuss ways to promote nuclear energy, strengthen efforts to keep other countries from illegally acquiring nuclear weapons, reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. This year in Vienna, I am promoting the idea of an international "fuel bank" to encourage the peaceful use of nuclear power.

A new framework

In his April 2009 speech in Prague, President Obama called for building "a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation" so that the international community can access nuclear material for civilian power use without increasing the risks of proliferation. He continued: "That must be the right of every nation that renounces nuclear weapons, especially developing countries embarking on peaceful programs. And no approach will succeed if it's based on the denial of rights to nations that play by the rules."

A strong and efficient market for nuclear fuel is vital to securing carbon-free energy on a global basis. The United States continues to support expanded and reliable access to fuel supplies - working through the commercial marketplace - for peaceful nuclear programs.

When it comes to security, President Obama has made clear that the United States will "seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." This April, the United States and Russia signed a landmark New START Treaty that reduces our deployed nuclear warheads by one-third and our strategic delivery vehicles by one- half, while establishing a comprehensive monitoring regime and a pathway to further reductions in the future. We are working now toward its ratification by the US Senate.

For our part, the US is working to reduce our own reliance on nuclear weapons and to lock down dangerous nuclear material so terrorists can't use it to attack a city in the United States or anywhere in the world. …

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