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Arms Control and International Security: Opening Remarks to the 3rd Plenary Meeting of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV)

Ambassador Kennedy, Minister, colleagues – I want to begin by thanking all of the partners in attendance at this third plenary of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. I also want to thank Japan for hosting this important plenary. Clearly, Ambassador Aikawa and his staff have done an excellent job in planning this week’s meetings. I would point out that this is the first plenary we have held in warm weather, and it’s nice to be in the beautiful city of Tokyo in early summer.

Your presence here indicates your commitment to the partnership and its objectives. IPNDV can only be as strong as our collective commitment to it, and I have no doubt that your commitment to our important work is now stronger than ever. Since Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller announced this initiative 18 months ago, we have come a very long way. Over the last 18 months, IPNDV has grown from words in a speech into a robust partnership, one focused on the complex challenges involved in the verification of nuclear disarmament and is actively working in collaboration to overcome those challenges.

Before I address our progress to date, I would like to reiterate the fundamental objectives of the partnership. First, the partnership is a collaboration composed of nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states that seeks to build knowledge and capacity among its members regarding the technical challenges associated with the monitoring and verification of nuclear disarmament. This is truly a partnership with a two-way exchange of knowledge and ideas between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. The partnership is focused on collaboration between technical experts from states who possess nuclear weapons and those who do not. No important person, much less one country, approaches security challenges in the same way.

Non-nuclear weapon states can challenge the assumptions of the nuclear weapon states and raise questions that we have never had to think about before. Indeed, this is exactly what has occurred in the UK-Norway initiative, and we had a chance to visit the area in Norway a couple of months ago where a mock inspection occurred.

Within the context of our partnership, we are beginning to examine potential answers to many important and challenging questions that will be critical to future disarmament efforts, questions like: “What does this verification actually mean for a multi-lateral disarmament regime?” “What elements are needed in such a regime?” “What information and level of confidence would be conveyed to states, regarding the disarmament?” And “How would a monitoring and verification regime operate with participation from both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states?”

As for the second objective of IPNDV, it is searching for solutions. These questions drive our experts to look for new, innovative approaches to address and definitively solve technical challenges of nuclear disarmament verification.

So that is our mandate. Understanding the technical challenges and seeking solutions for those challenges. We’re not here to negotiate a treaty or an inspection protocol. We’re not here to weigh the policy implications of one inspection regime versus another. When the opportunity presents itself, our governments have plenty of policy-minded staff for that. Our job, our task, is to develop options, processes, procedures and technology concepts that can address what is a formidable verification challenge, the likes of which have not been seen in the history of nuclear arms control. A technically based dialog frees partner countries from getting bogged down in political disagreements. These are important considerations but not our focus.

Before I continue, I would like to thank Emanuele Farruggia for his important contributions to our work, and congratulate him on his new ambassadorship. Emanuel not only served in Working Group 1 as an able co-chair, but also aided the work of the entire partnership. I would also like to thank Kurt Siemon for his important contributions to our work and congratulate him on his retirement from federal service after 45 years. If anybody deserves to retire, it is Kurt Siemon, but Kurt will be sorely missed. He is one of those guys who I would say added value, and I can’t say that about everybody.

Taking Emanuele’s place, Working Group 1 co-chair is David Chambers, who has graciously volunteered to serve in this new capacity. David has been an active participant in the work of the working groups and will continue to make important contributions to the partnership through his able leadership along with Ambassador Piet de Klerk. Unfortunately – this is what Piet claims – he is sick with the flu and is unable to attend this meeting, but David will happily lead the working group over the next three days on his own. Taking Kurt’s place as Working Group 3 co-chair is Michele Smith, who has also been an active participant in Working Group 3 and will continue the path that the working group is taking. We have greatly appreciated both Emanuele and Kurt’s valuable leadership and will miss their presence sorely.

All three working groups have made significant progress, and this is thanks to you. Each of you has produced an impressive array of papers that have driven very useful discussions. Those discussions in turn have begun to shape the deliverables set in the working groups’ terms of reference. And in fact, I understand Working Group 3 is close to finalizing some of their deliverables already. So that’s for Working Groups 1 and 2 – you guys had better catch up. I encourage each of the working groups to continue these important discussions with a particular eye to emerging from this meeting with a plan for completing the deliverables each agreed to in its terms of reference. I look forward to seeing the progress that has been made since our last meeting in Oslo in view of the co-chair’s vision for completion of their work during the remaining 18 months of this initial phase.

We know that arriving at solutions to the challenges we face will require patience and perseverance. The fruits of our labor may not be realized for years to come, but in the poetic words of former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain and difficulty.”

Thank you so much, and I look forward to working with you in our discussions over the next several days.

Distribution channels: Military