U.S. State Department official stresses worldwide nuclear safety

C.S. Eliot Kang, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, for the U.S. State Department delivered comments on Monday to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. | U.S. State Department

Ensuring all nuclear installations around the world are safe is a top priority for the United States, a State Department deputy assistant secretary told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday.

C.S. Eliot Kang, from the department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, made his remarks in Vienna and implored the agency to support the Vienna Declaration that unites countries in supporting nuclear safety around the world.

"This convention was founded on the principle that a multilateral, incentive-based approach provides the best way to ensure a high level of nuclear safety worldwide,” Kang said. “It allows safety standards and guidance to be strengthened by taking into account emerging technologies and lessons learned.”

He said the United States “strongly supports” the convention, and believes it is vital to cooperation between countries. Nuclear safety is an “ongoing concern,” he said, and while safety may be the responsibility of a nation, having international cooperation is “indispensable” to strengthen nuclear safety.

“In the United States, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted an exhaustive review of our nuclear power plants and required significant safety enhancements in light of the lessons learned from Fukushima,” Kang said, referring to the Japanese nuclear meltdown of 2011. “Those enhancements are now well under way at U.S. plants, with most of the major work expected to be completed by the end of 2016.”

Supporting the Vienna Declaration sends a message to the international community that countries are united in advancing nuclear safety worldwide, Kang said.