New Paradigms Forum Proliferation Issues and Much More …


Plenary U.S. Co-Chair Opening Remarks


Below are remarks that Assistant Secretary Ford delivered at the 2019 Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on June 6, 2019. They can also be found here, on the website of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.

Esteemed delegates, I welcome you all to the 11th Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.  I would like to thank the Government of Argentina for organizing and hosting this important event.  We are honored by the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship Jorge Faurie.  Minister, I thank you for your remarks, and thank you to Ambassador Roberto García Moritán for your warm welcome.  Argentina has demonstrated a strong commitment to nuclear security, and has been an important partner of the GICNT having hosted two bilateral tabletop exercises since 2014 and serving as the Response and Mitigation Working Group Chair since 2017.  I look forward to Undersecretary Julián Gadano’s keynote address.

Since its inception in 2006, the GICNT has grown from partnership of 13 nations to a vast network of 88 nations and 6 official observer organizations committed to working together to strengthen global capacity in the fight against terrorism.  In its 13 years of existence, the GICNT has added unique value to the global nuclear security architecture by identifying and promoting practical nuclear security best practices that can be applied and institutionalized within your governments.  The GICNT keeps getting stronger each year.  It is a foundational element of the “new normal” for how we collectively think about nuclear security.

I. A Message from the President

The highest levels of the United States Government share this view.  I will now read a message from President Trump.  [Click here to see the presidential message in its original.]

The White House


June 6, 2019

I commend the delegates gathered in Buenos Aires for the Eleventh Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) for your commitment to combating terrorism and preventing terrorist groups from acquiring and using nuclear and radioactive materials. I also extend my gratitude to the Argentine Republic for serving as a leader in global efforts to strengthen nuclear security and counter terrorism and for hosting this important event.

The stance of the United States is clear: We will draw on the full range of our Nation's and our allies' capabilities to place weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and associated materials and expertise beyond the reach of terrorists. Last year, my Administration released our National Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism, which underscored the bold and innovative steps we are taking to reduce the risk ofterrorists acquiring and using WMD.
This Strategy highlighted the GICNT's unique role in supporting these efforts, as a crucial global institution working to establish nuclear security best practices and promote their implementation. Indeed, the GICNT's partners have hosted more than 15 joint activities since 2017 to combat nuclear terrorism and strengthen international cooperation to address this shared burden. Such critical work must continue. Law enforcement, technical, and policy experts at all levels of government should collaborate within the framework of the GICNT to confront evolving nuclear security and terrorism challenges.

We live in a world in which the spread of technologies that can be used for either peaceful or malicious purposes may allow terrorists to gain access to weapons and materials that could sow death and destruction around the world. This is the threat that the GICNT must continue to address. We must continue to work together in the fight to keep dangerous nuclear andradioactive materials out of the hands of terrorists. Our citizens rely on us to prevent and respond to any terrorist plots to attack our cities and terrorize our people.

I urge all GICNT partners to continue your efforts in support of this important GICNT mission. I send my best wishes for a successful Plenary Meeting.

-- Donald J. Trump

This 11th Plenary Meeting provides us with an opportunity to review progress made in implementing the principles of the GICNT since the 2017 Plenary in Tokyo, Japan.

I would like to recognize the contributions of Finland in leading our efforts over the past two years as Implementation and Assessment Group Coordinator.  In particular, Ambassador Jari Luoto has shown exceptional personal dedication to advancing the GICNT’s mission and program of work.  Ambassador Luoto has played a critical role in promoting the Initiative as an enduring partnership committed to building partner capacity to combat nuclear terrorism and has represented the GICNT tirelessly and extremely effectively in many international fora.  We are grateful for his advocacy on behalf of the Initiative and for his leadership and close involvement in setting and carrying out its priorities.  We are also grateful to Finland for hosting the successful Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting last year in Helsinki.  I look forward to hearing Ambassador Luoto’s reflections on his experience as Implementation and Assessment Group Coordinator and his recommendations for future activities and priorities.

I commend the progress made by the GICNT’s nuclear detection, forensics, and response and mitigation working groups, chaired by the United Kingdom, Canada, and Argentina, respectively.  I congratulate the Working Group Chairs on developing a diverse range of practical GICNT activities that have effectively addressed the difficult and emerging challenges in combatting nuclear terrorism.  The GICNT could not succeed without the leadership and direction provided by the working group chairs.

Similarly, the GICNT could not have accomplished so much in two years without the contributions of the partners and official observers.  I thank those of you who added expertise to GICNT events by sending representatives to present national models and share experiences, best practices, and lessons learned.  I especially thank each country that volunteered to host a GICNT activity and I look forward to recognizing your efforts in the coming sessions.

I would like to also recognize two of the more recent additions to the GICNT partnership who have taken an active role since becoming members.  First, I would like to formally welcome the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism as an Official Observer.  UNOCT joined the GICNT one year ago at the IAG Meeting and has already contributed by co-sponsoring a regional response coordination and legal frameworks workshop in Nigeria this past April.  This was the first workshop that Nigeria has hosted, and the first GICNT activity in Sub-Saharan Africa, since joining the Initiative two years ago at the Tokyo Plenary.  The success of the GICNT is based upon partner participation so I commend both Nigeria and the UNOCT for embracing the mission of the Initiative and working together to promote key counter nuclear terrorism principles.

II.  GICNT Progress Since 2017

The Global Initiative held 17 successful multilateral activities since the 2017 Plenary meeting in Tokyo, guided by the work plans adopted by the three working groups there.  Many of the activities explored the interface between nuclear detection, response, and forensics, and addressed regional counter nuclear terrorism challenges and approaches to enhancing cooperation.  In reviewing the work of the GICNT, I am impressed by the diverse, but practically focused activities.  Recent tabletop exercises and workshops promoted strengthening national frameworks for decision-making and coordination across government agencies and counter nuclear terrorism stakeholders; identified mechanisms for regional and international cooperation during a nuclear terrorist incident that spans multiple borders; and explored ways to establish or enhance national capabilities that support the nuclear security mission.

Each of the working groups also addressed important technical challenges within their communities.  The nuclear detection working group continued to promote the integration of technical and non-technical capabilities to support detection operations, including the use of scientific reachback support to aid first responders in identifying detected materials.  The nuclear forensics working group developed a Self-Assessment Tool that will help partners assess their country’s existing nuclear forensics capabilities.  In using the Tool, partners can better understand and address their national nuclear forensics needs.  The response and mitigation group identified critical prevention and response procedures to secure major public events from nuclear terrorist incidents.  These are just three examples of how the GICNT is working to build capacity in key technical areas that enhance nuclear security.

The activities of the three working groups brought together experts from many different nations and 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 among global experts in each of these fields is one of GICNT’s most valuable contributions to global nuclear security.  I thank you all for your active participation in the work we have collectively accomplished.

III.  Conclusion

The participation of nearly 200 experts and senior leaders here today demonstrates each of your government’s political commitment to combating the threat of nuclear terrorism.  I encourage you to continue to look for ways to embrace the mission of this partnership.  I ask you to consider committing to host, organize, and send experts to attend GICNT activities.  Finally, 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.

For our part, the United States continues to prioritize efforts to strengthen nuclear security domestically, bilaterally, and through multilateral organizations and institutions, such as the Global Initiative.  We are committed to upholding the principles of the GICNT, and to working with our Russian co-chair in advancing the work of the partnership.  Good work has been done by the GICNT over a long time, and we remain focused upon working with our partners to sustain this emphasis.

Once again, thank you for your commitment to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and for being here this week to set the Initiative’s priorities for 2019-2021.

Thank you.

-- Christopher Ford

About Dr. Ford

Dr. Christopher Ford served from January 2018 until January 2021 as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation. For the last 15 months of this period, he additionally performed the duties of the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Before this service at the State Department, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for WMD and Counterproliferation on the U.S. National Security Council staff, and before that as Chief Legislative Counsel for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chief Investigative Counsel for the Senate Banking Committee, Republican Chief Counsel for the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute, U.S. Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Minority Counsel and then General Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Staff Director of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. A graduate of Harvard (summa cum laude), Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar), and the Yale Law School, Dr. Ford was also ordained by Roshi Joan Halifax of the Upaya Zen Center as a lay chaplain in a lineage of Soto Zen Buddhism. He was a jujutsu student of the late Grandmaster Dong Jin Kim of the Jigo Tensin Ryu lineage, and is a member of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai with Sandan (3rd degree black belt) rank. Dr. Ford served from 1994 until 2011 as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Chatham House, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In September 2017, he was promoted by Queen Elizabeth II of England to the rank of Commander in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. Dr. Ford is the author of the books "China Looks at the West: Identity, Global Ambitions, and the Future of Sino-American Relations" (2015), "The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations" (2010), and "The Admirals' Advantage: U.S. Navy Operational Intelligence in World War II and the Cold War" (2005). He also co-edited "Rethinking the Law of Armed Conflict in an Age of Terrorism" (2012). For a list of his publications, see The views he expresses on this website are entirely his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else, in or out of government.
Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Trackbacks are disabled.

NPF Pages

Recent Additions to NPF

NPF Discussion Pages

Calendar of NPF Postings

January 2021
« Dec    

NPF Archives (by month)