Opening Remarks at the 2017 GICNT Plenary Meeting

Remarks
C.S. Eliot Kang
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
Tokyo, Japan
June 1, 2017


(Remarks as prepared)

Good afternoon.

Esteemed delegates, I welcome you all to the 10th Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. First, I would like to thank the Government of Japan for hosting this important event and for its wonderful hospitality. We are particularly honored by the presence of State Minister Sonoura to deliver today’s keynote address. Japan has been an important partner of the GICNT, and I look forward to hearing these remarks.

GICNT adds unique value to the global nuclear security architecture as a partnership of 88 nations committed to working together to strengthen global capacity in the fight against nuclear terrorism. This view is shared at the highest levels of our government. I will now read a message from President Trump.

I am pleased to represent the United States Government as Co-Chair in this 10th Plenary meeting of the GICNT. This Plenary Meeting provides us with an opportunity to review progress made in implementing the GICNT mission since the 2015 Plenary in Helsinki, Finland.

I would like to highlight the contributions of the Netherlands in leading our efforts over the past two years. In particular, I would like to recognize Ambassador Nederlof’s personal leadership and dedication. Ambassador Nederlof has played a critical role in directing GICNT work over the past two years. He has advanced a vision for the GICNT as an enduring international partnership that supports partners in building national capabilities to combat terrorism. We are especially grateful to the Netherlands for hosting the successful 10th Anniversary High Level Meeting in The Hague last year and to Ambassador Nederlof for his able chairmanship of the discussions there. I look forward to Ambassador Nederlof’s proposals for future priorities and recommendations for future activities.

I commend the progress made by the GICNT’s nuclear detection, forensics, and response and mitigation working groups, chaired by Finland, Australia, and Morocco, respectively. I congratulate the Working Group Chairs and the United Kingdom’s Special Advisor on their great success in building a wide-ranging set of practical GICNT activities to effectively address the difficult and emerging challenges that we all face.

The GICNT could not have accomplished so much in two years without the partners and official observers who volunteered to host and organize GICNT activities. I thank each of you and look forward to recognizing your efforts during tomorrow’s sessions. I also thank those who contributed to GICNT events by presenting national models, serving as exercise facilitators, and sharing their experiences, best practices, and lessons learned.

I especially welcome our newest partners, Paraguay and Nigeria. Thank you for your commitment to our Statement of Principles and for joining us here today. We look forward to working with you as we continue work to implement the GICNT mission to increase national and international capacity to combat nuclear terrorism.

GICNT Progress Since 2015

The role of GICNT in bringing together cross-disciplinary communities for practical activities has been enthusiastically embraced by the partnership. The GICNT is unique because it provides a trusted environment for governments to address hard challenges and learn from each other’s efforts. The Global Initiative has held 15 successful multilateral activities since the last Plenary meeting. These brought together experts from many different disciplines to exchange best practices and strategies for confronting the threat of nuclear terrorism, including law enforcement, first responders, scientists, border and customs officers, foreign affairs experts, policymakers, and senior decision-makers. Providing a forum that encourages dialogue and cooperation between and among the global experts in each of these fields is one of GICNT’s most valuable contributions to global nuclear security, and I thank you all for your contributions to the work we’ve accomplished.

In reviewing the work of the GICNT over the past two years, I am also impressed by the quality and wide-ranging, but practical, focus of GICNT activities and products. Just to name a few examples, recent tabletop exercises and workshops have promoted national nuclear security exercise programs; legal frameworks for nuclear security; and national frameworks for decision-making and coordination. Each of the working groups fostered their community of experts through meetings on important technical challenges and the creation of capacity-building tools. These events advanced the GICNT mission by focusing on core challenges in the fields of nuclear detection, response, and forensics, as well as interfaces among these fields.

At the 10th Anniversary Meeting last June, we took a moment to reflect on the past decade. We collectively re-affirmed our support for the structure of the GICNT and its focus on practical activities as a unique opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other.

Conclusion

The United States continues to promote the universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and has implemented a broad set of measures to strengthen nuclear security domestically, bilaterally, and through multilateral organizations and institutions, such as the Global Initiative. The United States is proud to serve as Co-Chair of the Initiative. We remain committed to working with our Russian co-chair in advancing the work of the partnership.

The participation of so many experts and senior leaders here today demonstrates each of your government’s political commitment to combating the threat of nuclear terrorism. I look forward to the national statements highlighting your achievements in strengthening nuclear security and countering nuclear terrorism. I welcome hearing about your experience hosting and participating in GICNT events. I encourage you all to actively participate in our discussions over the next two days. I hope those discussions may further guide our collaborative efforts in this valuable partnership.

I also encourage your continued support of the GICNT by committing to host, organize, and send appropriate experts to attend GICNT activities, and contributing to the development of products that promote capacity-building across the GICNT’s focus areas. As we continue to build momentum around the excellent collaboration we have shared these past eleven years, we need to continue to look for ways to transcend this partnership to focus on practical adaptations of these dialogues. In that spirit, I urge you to commit to other national actions that promote national or international capacity-building in other areas of nuclear security related to the GICNT Statement of Principles.

The United States appreciates your continued feedback and support as we seek to ensure that GICNT activities build strategically upon one another to enhance partnership capabilities and address partners’ nuclear security priorities.

Once again, thank you for your commitment to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. I look forward to engaging in constructive discussions today and tomorrow as we collectively strengthen the Initiative and set plans for the next two years.

Thank you.