Enhancing International Partnerships

C.S. Eliot Kang
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
Remarks at the 2009 Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
The Hague, Netherlands
June 16, 2009

Good morning. Before we begin, I would like to thank Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and everyone at The Hague for their gracious hospitality. It is both an honor and a pleasure to be here in such a venerable and internationally recognized setting.

It is fitting that our 2009 Plenary Meeting is taking place in a city that is home to a number of important international institutions that often refers to itself as the "International City of Peace and Justice." So, we are carrying on a grand and deep-seated tradition this week.

I am pleased to co-chair this meeting with Russian Ambassador Anatoli Safonov, a man of great stature and accomplishments in this field.

I would like to welcome and thank each of the delegations that have joined us here today. We all share a responsibility for global security and your active participation in the Global Initiative reflects a commitment to that obligation.

In particular I wish to welcome Uzbekistan and Mauritius, our two new partners since the 2008 Plenary, and a new official observer: the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL. Welcome! We look forward to your participation in the Global Initiative.

President Obama Embraces GICNT

As many of you are aware, President Obama has laid out a bold agenda on preventing nuclear proliferation and terrorism. One of the first major addresses he gave as President included a direct reference to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. He is keenly interested in strengthening this Initiative and seeing the effects of our capacity building around the world.

I would like to share a message from President Obama to partners:

June 16, 2009

"I am pleased to send my warmest greetings to all those gathered together at the Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. There is no graver danger to global security than the threat of nuclear terrorism, and no more immediate task for the international community than to address that threat. We will succeed in our efforts only if we stand together as partners to prevent the theft, diversion, and misuse of nuclear materials and technologies; to detect the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials; and to respond to, investigate, and prosecute would-be nuclear terrorists.

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism has my fullest support. I commend your efforts and applaud the 75 nations that have joined this initiative. I hope more nations will commit to implementing the Principles of the Global Initiative and work together to increase capacity and share best practices. As I said in Prague a few short months ago, the Global Initiative should become a durable international institution.

Please accept my thanks for your hard work on building a better, more secure future. I wish you all the best for a successful meeting."

[signed] Barack Obama

We live in an age where the perils of terrorism are increasing, not decreasing. We must stay alert and understand how to work with each other in the wide range of disciplines included in the Global Initiative.

Facilitating Capacity Building

While there may not be a single, universal solution to preventing nuclear terrorism, the notion of “best practices” teaches us that a successful approach in one country can be applied to others who may be facing similar threats.

This is a central theme of the Global Initiative and our focus for this Plenary Meeting. It is particularly timely.

Continuing on this theme, I would like to inform you that the United States is prepared to assist other partners in implementing any of the functional areas covered in the Global Initiative Principles. Some of you have heard about this at recent Global Initiative meetings.

We call it an "incentive program," and it is a way to match our experts with partners that have a desire to increase their capabilities and are looking for a way to do it.

We recognize that many partners are also in a position to share their expertise. I encourage all partners to consider the Global Initiative a forum for matching experts with those seeking expertise. Collectively, we have a vast array of experience that can translate into improved capabilities worldwide in preventing, detecting, and responding to acts of nuclear terrorism.

We will discuss this in more detail over the next two days.

Enhancing Implementation

An important ingredient in bolstering our capacity-building as a partnership is having an effective way to work together. President Obama recognized that we are off to an enthusiastic start. In three years, we’ve grown to a partnership of 75 nations and three official observer organizations.

The time has come to identify enduring mechanisms for working together. This is what President Obama pointed to in his speech, and the U.S. and Russian Co-Chairs have been discussing ways we can work toward accomplishing this goal.

We would like to begin discussing with you today, and throughout the coming year, ways to make the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism a more effective and enduring international institution. Going forward, we will refer to this as "enhancing implementation" of the Global Initiative.

Some Specifics

Some ideas under consideration include clearly identifying a policy making body, having a decision making mechanism that is open to all partners, better coordinating exercise planning, and as I have described, facilitating capacity building, which is central to this Initiative. Fortunately, we do not believe this involves creating anything new.

We are suggesting that partners energize the Implementation and Assessment Group, or IAG, as the formal advisory body for all strategic and policy-level issues, and re-shape the Exercise Planning Group, or EPG as an operational body to coordinate all Global Initiative exercises as well as any other related practical activities. We look forward to generating discussion in these areas.

Emphasis for 2009-2010

The United States’ view is that we can put these “enduring mechanisms” to use to facilitate capacity building in the coming year, and propose to focus on the first two Principles – materials control and accounting, and security of civilian nuclear facilities.

As I mentioned, my President is committed to taking quick action to secure nuclear materials.

In fact, as many of you know, the United States is planning a summit on nuclear security for early next year and we believe that focusing on Principles 1 and 2 over the next year, will allow the Global Initiative to play an important part in those efforts.

I believe there will be a role for Global Initiative partners to support the President’s international initiative to secure all vulnerable material in four years, since this is directly in line with Principle 1. This is not to overlook the important ongoing work in nuclear detection. We saw an excellent practical field exercise in this area that Spain conducted last year.

I also wish to acknowledge the excellent work partners accomplished over the last year on the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture and the ongoing development of the Model Guidelines Document, which could serve as an important strategic planning guide in helping nations determine their specific needs in the nuclear detection area.

This is an example of collaboration that can take place in the Global Initiative for the benefit of all partners.

Over the next two days you will also hear about furthering our work on nuclear forensics and a new framework to enhance operational cooperation between partners investigating illicit uses of nuclear material.


Ambassador Safonov and I would also like to call your attention to an achievement we wish to share on an automated inventory control and management system called AICMS. The system was jointly developed to replace a paper system used to inventory and monitor sensitive fissile and radiological material. We believe this inventory system may be of use to Global Initiative partners.

Information Sharing

Naturally, we also consider information sharing an ongoing priority. With regard to the Global Initiative Information Portal, or GIIP, we are pleased that so many of you access it – hundreds per week – and we recommend that the GIIP continue serving as the primary vehicle for centralized information sharing.

We suggest that the Portal could be utilized more intensively, including for subject matter expert collaboration, and for real-time activity coordination and implementation among Global Initiative partners.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that our success in preventing an act of nuclear terrorism anywhere in the world is clearly and directly linked to our collective ability to provide the right information, to the right people, at the right time.

Now, as the Global Initiative moves forward we want to continue augmenting participation in the Global Initiative by continuing outreach to non-partner nations, particularly we have some gaps in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. I acknowledge the good work by several partners over the last year especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

We also want to ensure that we continue working closely with the IAEA and EU, and involve an international organization that is a new official observer to the Global Initiative: INTERPOL; as well as all levels of government in our activities.

And finally, we ask that, as our partners, each of you continue building and strengthening relationships with the private sector, with those responsible for the management of critical infrastructure, with academia, and with key non-governmental entities. I know this Plenary meeting will highlight several of these organizations in one of the working group sessions tomorrow.

I call your attention in particular to the World Institute of Nuclear Security, or WINS, a partnership of government and industry professionals sharing best practices on nuclear security. This is a new institute that is fulfilling Principle 2, securing civil nuclear facilities. My government strongly supports WINS as a complementary component of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and I encourage each of your delegations to carry back to your capitals the need to support and participate in WINS.


These are the strengths of the Global Initiative – the multi-sector involvement, information sharing, and moving towards a more enduring mechanism for interacting with one another.

We look forward to another year of good work – improved understanding – in nuclear forensics, materials control and accounting, and in securing civilian nuclear facilities. Next year, we’ll suggest moving to the next Principles, until we’ve spent time on each. Our progress is measurable, as you will hear in today’s discussions.

It is also measurable in what doesn’t happen – and I think we can all agree that when it comes to nuclear terrorism, our greatest success is when absolutely nothing happens.

Once again, thank you all for your commitment to the success of the Global Initiative and for keeping the focus on improving our individual and collective abilities to prevent, detect, and, if necessary, respond to an act of nuclear terrorism.