On behalf of the U.S. as chair of the Global Partnership and also on behalf of the Department of State, I would very much like to welcome you here to the first meeting of the Global Partnership in 2012.
This is an exciting time for the Global Partnership as it starts its evolution into a truly globally focused initiative.
For the past ten years, the Global Partnership served as a mechanism in which partners funded projects to address the risks and threats of WMD terrorism. The U.S. in 2002 had been funding work in Russia and the former Soviet Union states since the early 1990s. However, what the Global Partnership did was provide a vehicle for many other nations to begin funding projects against WMD terrorism for the first time. And for the past few years, several nations within the Global Partnership began to find the value of working jointly to fund work, realizing there are certain efficiencies in joint funding.
Relationships developed among the partners. We began to see many of the same faces four or even five times a year, depending upon the meeting schedule of the Global Partnership. Some of us began to also see each other between meetings to further develop projects we discussed during Global Partnership meetings. We began to feel like partners in the effort to combat WMD terrorism.
And most importantly, the work got done. In the past ten years, the Global Partnership has enhanced nuclear, biological, and chemical security; dismantled nuclear submarines and safe storage of spent fuel; improved detection of nuclear and radiological materials and prevented illicit trafficking by improving border security capabilities; engaged and redirected scientists, technicians and engineers who have WMD, missile, and related experience to peaceful purposes; and provided enhanced training on nuclear safeguards and security.
And then for two years, we had serious discussions about extension. This discussion was taking place during a time of fiscal constraints and larger questions of the stability of the financial markets. Making decisions about large future commitments in such an environment led to serious discussions and a lot of work on the part of many of you here. However, in the end, the G8 Leaders agreed on extension of the Global Partnership. I congratulate all of you here who worked so hard in the lead-up to that decision last year.
Our work is not done. Now we need to find out amongst ourselves, what is this Global Partnership that is now in existence beyond its original 10-yr mandate. That is what we will find out in the next two days. The U.S. is providing a road map based on discussions that have taken place the past two years. We have heard the desire for the Global Partnership to be more of a coordination mechanism, to help partners who are about to consider for the first time funding outside of Russia understand what is currently being done and how they can play a role, and importantly, to bring in new Partners. The U.S. is providing a path forward to engage more fully all of our Global Partnership partners and to also find ways to incorporate into our activities and thinking the very relevant work of international organizations. And in doing so, we seek innovative methods for making these meetings more engaging and educational.
With me here today are several important leaders in the U.S. government who are here to welcome you here with me. One issue most of you know about me is that I am very much a proponent of the “Whole of Government” idea. I believe that the best way to promote these programs and to ensure their continued success as we move to a more global focus and smaller programs than we have had in the past is to bring in all parts of the U.S. government who have an impact on this work, including what we would call the “nontraditional” partners. The world of programming to reduce WMD terrorism is no longer solely that of the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy and State. Now to be successful in our programs around the world, we need to work with many other departments and agencies, particularly since they house expertise we must rely upon. I have asked officials from these departments and agencies to take the time out of their schedules to come here to welcome you, and I am very pleased that so many of them said yes. This is a true reflection, I think, of the value the U.S. places on the Global Partnership and the whole of government support that will be the backbone of the U.S. will be leading this year.