Video Link: Deputy Secretary Sherman delivers opening remarks at the 18th Annual NATO Conference – 9:30 AM – YouTube
Good morning, everyone.
My name is Bonnie Jenkins and I am the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the United States Department of State. As Chair of the 18th Annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Arms Control, Disarmament, and Non-Proliferation, it is my sincere pleasure to welcome our NATO Allies and partners to Washington D.C.!
As this is the first time the conference is being hosted in North America since it began in 2004, I am especially appreciative of our distinguished colleagues who have travelled long distances to be with us here today.
Once again, we warmly welcome you all and look forward to engaging in fruitful discussions.
We had a very productive public event yesterday afternoon where we had an opportunity to hear from civil society on the challenges that face us in the areas of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament. We value the perspectives that they bring to these issues and I want to thank them for their contributions.
NATO, founded on the principles of democracy, liberty, and the rule of law, is the strongest, defensive military alliance in history. Over the last 70 plus years, the NATO Alliance has stood clearly and firmly for democracy and sovereignty.
Our shared values are what makes us stronger and more resilient, and the United States will always remain a steady and unflinching Ally.
We are NATO, 31 strong, and only by working together with partners can we face the challenges brought about by increased authoritarianism that uses violence, war, and coercion to undermine Transatlantic peace and security.
We all recognize the increasing and evolving threats we face today and the collective actions we must take to strengthen the arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation architecture in this rapidly changing security environment. This is the theme of our conference.
I have the honor to lead the work here at the State Department with my bureaus on issues of international security and I can certainly say, and I am sure you will agree, that we are at a time where we see many changes to the security landscape that has existed for many years.
But like you, I wake up every morning, ready to find paths that will determine where we are headed in our security environment.
And as we bear collective witness to Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war against Ukraine, its purported suspension of New START, its irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and continued saber-rattling;
And as we look at what lessons we have learned to strengthen the multilateral regimes that reinforce norms against the use of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons;
And as we look at how we as Allies and partners can collectively address new challenges to the use of the various tools in our toolbox, including arms control and nonproliferation, but also risk reduction, crisis communication, and norms of responsible behavior;
And as we anticipate how emerging technologies could intersect with existing WMD-related risks that may create new challenges for international security and stability;
We must never lose sight of why we do what we do. To not let the world slide backwards, to head off costly arms races, and to signal our desire to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons globally – so that the future is secure for all humankind.
For the next two days, we will have a great opportunity to have a dialogue and importantly, to ask questions. To hear from each other on our perspectives n the future o f our security environment.
We are having the courage to look into the changing landscape and future and ask ourselves how we can promote a stable and secure environment. I look forward to hearing from all of you on these issues.
Once again, my appreciation to you all for joining us this week. Please also join me in thanking every person involved with organizing this event, as well as the diverse set of experts who will speak on our panels and lead or have led our side events yesterday. They reflect the United States’ continued commitment to strive for the inclusion of women and people from underrepresented and underserved groups in discussions of our future together.
I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to our esteemed guests from NATO, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and of course U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman for their presence and remarks to follow.
Finally, it is my honor to introduce Deputy Secretary Sherman for her words of welcome.