Remarks to Members of the U.S. Delegation to the New START Negotiations and Nuclear Posture Review Department Staff
Secretary of State
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
UNDER SECRETARY TAUSCHER: Thank you very much, Rose. And welcome to everyone and I’m so happy to see so many family members here with us who have sacrificed so much during this long nuclear spring (laughter). I want to thank – and winter (laughter) and now summer. I want to thank Secretary Clinton for joining us today -- this is a very special day – to recognize all of the hard work of our START and NPR teams, those who helped contribute to the President’s successful nuclear spring.
In the span of just a few days this April, President Obama released both the Nuclear Posture Review on April 6th, and signed the New START treaty on April 8th. Both events marked important steps in the President’s Prague agenda to reduce global nuclear dangers and increase the security of the United States. As we know, the first steps of any journey often can be the hardest. And everyone here that we are recognizing here today put enormous effort into making those crucial first steps possible.
I want to thank, specifically, the family members who provided the support and tremendous amount of sacrifice of themselves and time together that enabled their loved ones to devote the time necessary to do their valuable work. I’m especially proud of the VCI Bureau who helped spearheaded these initiatives within the State Department. I was also impressed when I visited our START team. Rose did such a fabulous job leading this delegation in Geneva, particularly over the final weeks of tough negotiations where Jim Timbie and I were held hostage. Those frontline troops were ably supported by people throughout the interagency back here in Washington and I’m happy that we are here recognizing their effort today.
I especially want to thank the Secretary for her extraordinary leadership. She provided the necessary direction for these efforts and was extremely important in helping us overcome obstacles every day during the negotiations and frequently engaging with her counterpart Foreign Minister Lavrov.
Finally, I want to say that while we’re celebrating all the work that has gone into NPR and New START, much more work remains. Although the first steps were crucial, we also know that we must build on them to get somewhere. So as we take a moment to appreciate where we have been, let us also take this time to motivate and build momentum to where we want to go. And before I turn to the Secretary, let me just say that it has been a personal honor to watch all of you work so hard and to see the results that you had; historic agreement in an historic amount of time with an historic interagency cooperation. You all have much to be proud of.
And now let me introduce to you the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to join Rose and Ellen and all of you to express our appreciation for the extraordinary work, the experience, and the expertise that was brought to bear on both the NPR and START. I think that Ellen’s final comments about the historic nature of what was accomplished bear repeating. There is no doubt in my mind that our efforts to try to create a truly interagency working team paid off, because when you look at both the START treaty and the NPR, it was a whole-of-government approach. In fact, I think the NPR was the first one ever to be a true interagency effort. Secretary Gates and I determined that’s the way it would be and all of you made it happen.
The State Department worked closely with both the Defense Department and the Energy Department to develop a nuclear posture that meets the current security needs of the United States. And this important achievement alongside the START treaty and the Nuclear Security Summit truly helped to further the agenda that President Obama laid out in Prague. The final document in the NPR is a remarkable testament to the strength of the interagency and is indicative of the creativity, capabilities, and spirit of collaboration that resides within the State Department, within Defense and Energy, and then between and among us. I want personally to thank everybody on the State Department team. You were indispensible in articulating the new policy, developing support within our government, and gaining support from colleagues around the world. I’m very proud of everything that you have done and you are doing.
Now, sometimes when you look at accomplishments like what you produced with the New START treaty, the NPR, and the Nuclear Security Summit, there are those who question, well, what does it all add up to? Well, that’s true with any kind of historic effort. It’s a long, slow, boring of hard boards, as Max Weber would say. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen because we want it to happen. It happens because hundreds and hundreds of very qualified people, patriots, people who understand what’s at stake determine that it will happen. And I echo the thanks to family members, because the work often takes you away from home, a lot of long nights in hotel rooms, and offices, and conference rooms, and meetings, and you get a vitamin D deficiency because you’re never outside in the daytime. And yet it is such extraordinarily important work.
Now, we are about to take a picture. Now, I am someone who believes in memorializing occasions like this. And I think what I’m supposed to do – I’m trying to follow directions here – is to have a picture.
Karen, you’re going to introduce your people, then we’re going to do the NPR team, then we’re going to do the New START delegation, we’re going to do the backstopping team. So I hope somebody better prepared than I is going to set all these pictures up.
But finally, on a personal level, as a child of the Cold War, as someone who remembers duck-and-cover drills – beats me why we thought getting under our desks would help in the event of Soviet nuclear attack on Chicago, but nevertheless we did it and had canned food in the basement – I am very pleased that we have reached the point where we are in our sort of classical concerns about nuclear weapons.
As every one of you know better than I, we are now looking at new threats from nuclear and radiological materials in the hands of rogue regimes and networks of terrorists. So the kind of enormous challenge we faced in the Cold War with the standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union has receded, thankfully. Although, I think both Russia and the United States bear a continuing responsibility, as the possessors of more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, to continue to do what we are doing.
But part of our challenge in this START and NPR was to build more confidence with Russia so that they would work with us on the new nuclear threats, reach out to countries like China to understand that now they’re at the edge of having to be a responsible stakeholder in these discussions as well, build a global consensus as I think we’ve begun to do in the Nuclear Security Summit so that countries large and small, both with and without nuclear weapons or ambitions understand the new threats we face. So the work never ends. But never doubt the importance of every step that we take together.
And I am personally very grateful for everything you’ve done to move us toward our goal of a world someday, in some century, free of nuclear weapons, but along the way, making that world safer and safer and safer for our children and grandchildren.
So, Rose, take charge here as you have and tell us what we’re supposed to do.