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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 15, 2000


I transmit herewith, for Senate advice and consent to ratification, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, done at Vienna on September 5, 1997. Also transmitted for the information of the Senate is the report of the Department of State concerning the Convention.

This Convention was adopted by a Diplomatic Conference convened by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in September 1997 and was opened for signature in Vienna on September 5, 1997, during the IAEA General Conference, on which date Secretary of Energy Federico Pe'a signed the Convention for the United States.

The Convention is an important part of the effort to raise the level of nuclear safety around the world. It is companion to and structured similarly to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), to which the Senate gave its advice and consent on March 25, 1999, and which entered into force for the United States on July 10, 1999. The Convention establishes a series of broad commitments with respect to the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The Convention does not delineate detailed mandatory standards the Parties must meet, but instead Parties are to take appropriate steps to bring their activities into compliance with the general obligations of the Convention.

The Convention includes safety requirements for spent fuel management when the spent fuel results from the operation of civilian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste management for wastes resulting from civilian applications.

The Convention does not apply to a Party's military radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel unless the Party declares it as spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste for the purposes of the Convention, or if and when such waste material is permanently transferred to and managed within exclusively civilian programs. The Convention contains provisions to ensure that national security is not compromised and that Parties have absolute discretion as to what information is reported on material from military sources.

The United States has initiated many steps to improve nuclear safety worldwide in accordance with its long-standing policy to make safety an absolute priority in the use of nuclear energy, and has supported the effort to develop both the CNS and this Convention. The Convention should encourage countries to improve the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste domestically and thus result in an increase in nuclear safety worldwide.

Consultations were held with representatives from States and the nuclear industry. There are no significant new burdens or unfunded mandates for the States or industry that should result from the Convention. Costs for implementation of the proposed Convention will be absorbed within the existing budgets of affected agencies.

I urge the Senate to act expeditiously in giving its advice and consent to ratification.


                              THE WHITE HOUSE,
                              September 13, 2000.

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