Thank you to everyone for being here today and thank you to the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (NRRC) Staff for hosting us. It is wonderful to see some old familiar faces, as well as some young new ones. My special thanks to Russian Embassy DCM Oleg Stepanov. We are so glad that you could be here to share in this special celebration.
A little over 25 years ago, this center was just a bold concept generated by foreign policy heavyweights including Senator John Warner, Senator Sam Nunn and the incomparable former Secretary of State George Shultz. In 1985, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev officially agreed to explore the concept of national centers to reduce nuclear tensions, avoid crisis escalation and create transparency. By September 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the first NRRC Agreement. President Reagan called the agreement "another practical step in our [two nations'] efforts to reduce the risks of conflict."
Less than a year later, the first notifications were transmitted between the United States and the Soviet Union, creating the first direct communications link between the countries since the establishment of the Hot Line in 1963. In the 25 years since its inception, the NRRC has been a key asset and resource for implementing U.S. arms control data sharing and transparency policy initiatives. These initiatives have provided mutual confidence and predictability in U.S.-Russian relations.
In addition to fostering stable communications with Russia, the NRRC’s activities have expanded considerably over the past 25 years. Today, the NRRC exchanges an average of 7,000 messages annually for over a dozen treaties and agreements with fifty-plus countries and international organizations, in six languages.
The NRRC has played a core role in the implementation of New START. The United States and the Russian Federation have exchanged over 3,100 notifications on their respective strategic forces over the life of the Treaty so far. Every one of those notifications has been processed by the staff you see here today. On-site inspections that enable each side to confirm the validity of that data are also going well. Our experience so far demonstrates that New START’s verification regime works and sets an important precedent for future joint work.
Planning for the future is one of the main reasons we are here today in the NRRC’s newly modernized facility. The work done here is highly technical in nature and it is critical that we keep up with the dynamic technological landscape. The new NRRC is designed to improve operational efficiency and treaty notification monitoring using video collaboration systems, computer processing technology, and better office functionality.
The NRRC also continually adapts and evolves to meet our needs. In preparation for the implementation of New START, the NRRC developed an entirely new software protocol and upgraded its automated translation tool to facilitate the required notification regime.
All of these upgrades that you see around you or have heard about will enable the NRRC to continue implementing existing treaties and agreements, as well as prepare for future treaties and agreements.
I want to take a moment to thank the team of professionals who work every day, around-the-clock in the NRRC; you do an outstanding job. It is only fitting that you now have a first-class, modernized, 24-hour a day center to help you to advance international safety and security. I sincerely appreciate your efforts to put this event together today, as well as the work that you do every single day, unseen by the public.
I am now pleased to introduce Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Secretary Clinton has long been an advocate of arms control and nonproliferation and has been a great supporter of this Bureau and this office. We are so pleased that you are here to officially open this new facility.