[Liveblog] The Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture on International Affairs: United States Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz

Secretary Moniz addresses the Iran nuclear deal, non-proliferation, and global nuclear security.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20165:15 pm

That’s a wrap – thanks for reading!

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20165:14 pm

Q: Do you think that all clean energy technologies should get a fair chance, or should we prefer one of them? Are there ways the DoE can influence/open up more local and state level support opportunities?

EM: We’ve been very clear that we support all of the above approach. Efficiency, nuclear, renewables, and fossil energy technologies with low emissions. Start with low carbon requirement, infrastructure, smart grids, storage. My view is that the low-carbon solutions will look very different in different countries, different parts of our country. Our job is not to choose the marketplace solutions; our job is to do the research and development to enable marketplace competition. We are working across the board on all of these – ensure the marketplace has as many options as it can. Proposed the establishment of regional innovation partnerships. That kind of a structure would naturally get more state support/involvement, including in weaving that into an enhanced innovation ecosystem.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20165:10 pm

Q: Curious as to what your personal goals are for the future.

EM: Right now my career has a nine-month horizon. We can talk again on January 21. We have a lot of work to do in DoE. The Iran program is not finished. We still have substantial activity and work with the IAEA to do. Climate/clean energy side: we want to do all that we can to give a good push towards funding for energy research and development. We want to work to connect more strongly what we do to the investment world, because we need to accelerate the development and deployment of those technologies at scale. Strengthening strategic relationship with the national laboratories to plan science agendas going forward. Institutionalize major organizational changes: combined science and energy programs under one Under Secretary.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20165:07 pm

Q: Is international collaboration or national dependence/security more effective?

EM: There’s no way that one is going to close one’s eyes to what’s happening internationally – that would be a big mistake. We feel we have the gold standard in terms of the kinds of conditions we put on the use of nuclear technologies and materials that are US origin. There is a concern that our position in the international nuclear energy sphere is not what it was. A lot more players. We will have to continue to work through multilateral organizations.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20165:05 pm

Q: Spoke a lot about future prospects of a non-proliferation treaty but also about non-state actors. Challenges that we face with those groups?

EM: It almost speaks for itself that the brand of terrorism with international reach does not suggest any holding back if they had the capability. Prevention is absolutely essential here. We have made a lot of progress in locking up nuclear materials. We need to work on security, keep working on training, emergency response. We also need to keep working on technologies that might replace those sources. It’s possible to replace them, that’s a longer term prospect.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20165:03 pm

Q: Mentioned isolated neutron sources. Only proper use for that is in detonating an atomic bomb. Was there any point at which you needed to use your scientific nose and say something isn’t right?

EM: We had an assistant. There were 7 DoE national laboratories engaged in all dimensions of this agreement. Technical knowledge played a role throughout, many trade-offs to stay within our core objective. Many analyses were done. Interesting case of the intersection of science and diplomacy.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20165:00 pm

Q: Future of the deal in 15-25 years as the provisions expire?

EM: My expectation is that it will be executed as laid out. After 15 years Iran will have prerogatives to develop peaceful program. We have a strong verification regime that will continue beyond that. Mechanism in the agreement for Iran or the P5+1 to put forward proposed modifications, but it requires going through this process that has been put in place.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:59 pm

Q: Geopolitical context behind nuclear safety. Why do you think that Iran is sanctioned and persecuted for proliferating weapons when Israel has a history of bombing innocents and is not sanctioned?

EM: In 2003, int’l community came together and found Iran’s activities towards nuclear weapons to be suspicious. IAEA produced its report which reaffirms that. It was viewed as a destabilizing situation. We’re all hoping that Iran will be much more integrated in community of nations.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:56 pm

Q: You spoke of meetings with Netanyahu, rifts over the JCPOA. What does relationship with Israel look like presently from your perspective?

EM: I had a warm reception in Israel. They are all pursuing what they’ve said publicly: not supporting it. It’s done, now it’s about verification and working together. We’re working with our friends in the region.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:54 pm

Transition to question and answer period.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:53 pm

EM: Diplomacy is generally thought of as the negotiation of agreements between states. That’s important, but I want to re-emphasize the other definition: promotion of good relationships between countries.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:53 pm

EM: It’s encouraging to see the incredible interest among so many students.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:52 pm

EM: Nuclear security will remain an issue. It will go past my generation. We have to sustain a focus and a discussion, invest resources to prevent the worst outcome we can imagine.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:52 pm

EM: The deal stands on its own. About nuclear weapons, verification. We all hope that there will be a change in the overall regional engagement of Iran.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:51 pm

EM: I feel that good sense will prevail, issue will be to maintain our vigilance, sustain our effort. It won’t be easy.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:50 pm

EM: US and Russia aren’t on the best of terms, but on this issue there was complete commitment to the same objective.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:49 pm

EM: We hear a lot about US unilateral withdrawal in 2017. This is an excellent “worst of both worlds” option.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:49 pm

EM: What would 15 years from now look like without the agreement? Iran would have a struggling economy, 100,000 centrifuges, a reactor producing a lot of plutonium. Hard to understand why that’s a better picture.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:48 pm

EM: Only critique that pertains to the agreement per se is about the length of the agreement’s provisions.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:47 pm

EM: This was about a verifiable agreement to take the nuclear issue off the table.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:47 pm

EM: Critiques about the JCPOA are mostly not of the agreement but of what the agreement is not. It is not an agreement on ballistic missiles, Hezbollah, Houthis. All areas of great concern to us.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:46 pm

EM: Iran beat my expectations in terms of implementation.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:46 pm

EM: This agreement was to address the existential issue of a nuclear weapon. We feel extremely confident in its provisions.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:45 pm

EM: What no other country has done until now that Iran has done is forego research on certain areas. Major step.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:44 pm

EM: 29 scientists signed letter to the President when these conditions were put forward saying that this was the most stringent non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:42 pm

EM: Additional protocol now has 14 days as maximum timeline for IAEA access. Closed a major loophole.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:41 pm

EM: Verification. Procurement channel to make sure that material is going to appropriate end use. Additional protocol: basis of the IAEA inspectors’ ability to access suspicious sites.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:41 pm

EM: Iran retains capability in each area, but with 15 years of strong constraints.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:40 pm

EM: All that uranium has gone to Russia, getting back natural, non-enriched uranium.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:40 pm

EM: They have retained 1/3 of centrifuges, only the most elementary one (IR1). They are constrained to having no more than 300kg of low enriched uranium, brought down from 10 tons.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:39 pm

EM: Commitment on Iran’s part to send spent fuel from plutonium out of the country, have a limit on their heavy water inventories.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:39 pm

EM: Core elements. Only a few years ago, plutonium reactor seen as highest risk. It’s now had cement poured into it. P5+1 has committed to working to help redesign a new reactor that will have comparable performance without as much plutonium.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:37 pm

EM: Emerged with a basic structure of significant constraints on the Iranian program for 15 years plus the strong verification, and the nuclear sanctions are rolled back. Not all sanctions rolled back.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:36 pm

EM: Pretty easy to see that these elements are not mutually exclusive. Solution was possible.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:36 pm

EM: Iranian side needed some level of activity going on in all elements of program, possibly greatly reduced, and not give up prerogatives of peaceful nuclear program.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:35 pm

EM: There would have to be a very strong verification regime.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:35 pm

EM: President made it clear that we needed a one year breakout time (time to reach enough nuclear material for a first explosive in a “sprint”)

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:35 pm

EM: We could very rapidly find out what each others’ absolute core objectives were.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:34 pm

EM: We had the very active and clear guidance of the President. Understood that we had flexibility to achieve objectives as long as we met them.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:34 pm

EM: What really helped was that we got into a negotiation where we both had scientist worldviews. That led to a very different negotiating style.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:33 pm

EM: MIT connection with Salehi helped to build trust.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:32 pm

EM: Interesting negotiation with Sec’y Kerry, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:31 pm

EM: It’s very hard to have a major rollback of a program built over many years.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:31 pm

EM: When analyzing the deal we should always remember that you have to compare to what it would otherwise be like. It would not be a pretty picture

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:30 pm

EM: Iran had a rapidly expanding nuclear program. Up to nearly 20,000 centrifuges, well along in building a plutonium reactor.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:29 pm

EM: P5+1 had been negotiating with Iran for years. Highly successful sanctions regime also in place, worked because many countries participated.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:28 pm

EM: JCPOA represented an unusual intersection of science and diplomacy. My personal engagement should not hide the fact that our laboratories/expertise was part of the negotiation all the time.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:27 pm

EM: JCPOA. It’s been great to learn about the nuclear crisis simulation in the political science class here.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:26 pm

EM: We have a legitimate glass-half-full, glass-half-empty situation because the work isn’t done until we get all the remaining materials under control.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:26 pm

EM: During the nuclear summit process, Japan announced that they are sending high-enriched uranium to the United States for disposal. We’ve formed regional partnerships on nuclear security.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:25 pm

EM: All high-enriched uranium gone from South America, other regions on track to do the same.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:24 pm

EM: Real diplomacy is not just negotiating a piece of paper.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:24 pm

EM: Negotiations tend to be points where everybody pays attention, but we have responsibility for scientist interactions, weapon scientist interactions as well.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:21 pm

EM: My own engagement in nuclear security goes back to 1978, working on a report on nuclear fuel cycles.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:21 pm

EM: Risk of increased terrorism/organized crime throughout the world.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:19 pm

EM: It’s been terrific to be Secretary of Energy at a time when there’s a president who put both of the issues on the front burner.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:19 pm

EM: We also have a big nuclear energy program. Not nuclear security per se, but has very strong intersections. 2/3 of our budget in the nuclear realm.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:18 pm

EM: We have responsibilities in securing and eliminating nuclear weapons.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:17 pm

EM: Turning to nuclear security. Department has very broad responsibilities in this area. Nuclear deterrent: we’ve succeeded in shrinking it and avoiding any need for nuclear tests.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:17 pm

EM: We’ve had great success in many technologies over the last few years.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:16 pm

EM: In the process leading to Paris, innovation was finally placed squarely on the front burner as a critical element in addressing our climate challenges.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:16 pm

EM: I want to re-emphasize that the Department of Energy is engaged in two international issues: nuclear security, climate and clean energy.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:15 pm

EM: Acknowledges innovation going on on campus.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:14 pm

EM: Addressing the energy issue required reaching across all disciplines.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:13 pm

EM: I appreciate being added to the distinguished list of Ogden Lecturers.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:11 pm

RL: Moniz has earned a reputation as a smart, direct leader. “Arguably Obama’s best cabinet appointment.”

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:11 pm

RL: Moniz served as a key negotiator of the Iran deal alongside Secretary Kerry.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:08 pm

RL: It came as no surprise to MIT colleagues when then-Professor Moniz was called upon to serve in the federal government.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:05 pm

RL: Ogden Lecture one of Brown’s oldest, most distinguished lectures.

Matthew Jarrell
Matthew Jarrell
April 18, 20164:04 pm

Provost Locke welcomes the audience and introduces Secretary Moniz.