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Good evening, everyone.

Thank you for inviting me to join you all tonight and highlight your work to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. Thank you for all you do in these uncertain times.

Tectonic shift. Inflection point. This is how this decade is being recorded in history, and rightfully so.

There is no doubt that the nuclear landscape is more dangerous and unstable almost day-by-day.

A nuclear-weapon state, the Russian Federation, is demonstrating irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous behavior. Despite stating publicly and affirmatively the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, Russia is taking deliberate steps to undermine the nuclear foundations we have all invested in.

They launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a non-nuclear-weapon state.

They targeted Ukraine’s critical infrastructure — they seized and took control of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, and just this week attacked the Kakhova Dam.

They said they will deploy nuclear weapons to Belarus; and they have pushed a legally-invalid suspension of the new START Treaty, further endangering global nuclear stability.

Another nuclear-weapon state, the People’s Republic of China, is continuing its pace of nuclear expansion in a rapid and opaque manner.

In the absence of transparency or any limits on its nuclear stockpile, we can only guess the PRC’s intent, while managing the new stresses its build-up will place on international stability and the new challenges it will bring for nonproliferation, deterrence, assurance, arms control, and risk reduction.

In the meantime, the DPRK is testing and publicly trumpeting its increasingly dangerous arsenal and delivery systems, further destabilizing global security.

Iran’s uranium enrichment levels are continuously a concern for us, as is their failure to cooperate fully with their obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Layering on this, we are now entering a time when transformative technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing are adding uncertainty to the balance of power, all the while presenting new opportunities and challenges to the frameworks we have used to understand the mechanics of deterrence and stability.

This is the age of unmatched change. But as you have aptly worded, we must call for “navigating change.”  It is absolutely needed.

In this time of disruption, uncertainty, and anxiety, we must continue to see the cup as half full and apply the solutions that already exist — but also be innovative and agile in new approaches for a more stable future. We must persist, and we must persevere, if we are to realize a secure world protected from the ravages of nuclear weapons.

And how so? You may ask. This is never a simple challenge to address.

But that is why you are gathered here today.

Like the Ploughshares Fund, we, in the Biden-Harris Administration, are interested in more than identifying the massive challenges before us. We are focused on deploying the instruments of diplomacy to solve them.

As the U.S. National Security Advisor recently said, we are working to develop new strategies not only on the deterrence side of the proverbial nuclear coin, but also in arms control and risk reduction by leveraging the power of diplomacy.

We will continue to engage Russia to join us, in good faith, in returning to the full implementation of New START to uphold its international obligations, as this is in both our interests and the interest of the global community.

We will continue to pursue bilateral engagement with the PRC to reduce the risk of miscalculation, as it is important that the competition between our two nations is managed and does not veer into conflict.

We will continue to pursue dialogue with the DPRK but also demonstrate our resolve to address its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs and respond to its continued violation of UN Security Council resolutions, which are meant to help ensure international peace and security.

We will continue to work with our international partners to support the IAEA’s activities so that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.

And we will continue to set strong and transparent guardrails for the responsible development and use of technology, such as our commitment not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite missile tests and our principles on the responsible military use of artificial intelligence.

Moreover, and specifically on nuclear science and technology, we must do more to promote its valuable potential in a sustainable future, recalling the reference by President Eisenhower to “atoms for peace.”

These steps are broad and designed to achieve the goals we have always had to prevent nuclear arms racing, reduce the risk of misperception and escalation, and ensure the safety and security of both our people and the global community from nuclear threats.

What I have outlined here today only scratches the surface of what we do.

There is far more happening across the U.S. government, far from the limelight, to ensure diplomatic and substantive engagement on arms control and nuclear nonproliferation in pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons.

And, as you can see, we are choosing innovation over destruction.

We are choosing partnership over division.

We are choosing peace and security over conflict and arms racing.

And we, at the Department of State, pursue this with what we do best – diplomacy.

We will never resort to inaction, and I know the same rings true for you.

So I thank you all and to the Ploughshares Fund for your work. I know you have come together tonight for a good cause, and I hope we can celebrate successes.

U.S. Department of State

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