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Remarks at The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism International Seminar on Response to Malicious Activities Involving Radioactive Materials

Patricia McNerney, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
International Security and Nonproliferation
Rabat, Morocco
February 6, 2008

Thank you Secretary General Hilale, Mr. Prokhorov, and partner nations. I am delighted to be here in Rabat for this International Seminar on Response to Malicious Acts Involving Radioactive Materials. This conference is a terrific way to begin the 2008 Work Program of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

Morocco has demonstrated strong leadership from the start of the Initiative, and its hosting of the first meeting of the Global Initiative in Rabat in October 2006 demonstrated the strength and breadth of its commitment to working together to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism. I particularly would like to thank Secretary General Hilale for his personal leadership in advancing the Global Initiative in Morocco and the region.

At that first meeting here in Rabat, we were a small but strong partnership of 13 nations. Today, our partnership has 65 nations from all over the world, more than 22 of which are in attendance today. I am also pleased to see the International Atomic Energy Agency here given its valuable expertise to our common cause of combating nuclear terrorism.

Our Initiative is taking root globally, as nations join together to build partnerships and develop the tools to address each of the eight principles of the Global Initiative. In December the Chinese government held a similar event for countries in the Asian region, and participants rolled up their sleeves to work through the challenges of preparing for and responding to a nuclear or radiological incident. It is heartening to see such a large group in Rabat ready to similarly consider these issues in the context of threats and challenges in the Magreb region and beyond.

I am joined by my colleague Admiral Joseph Krol from the National Nuclear Security Agency, a part of the U.S Department of Energy. He and his team will provide two important briefings today and tomorrow, and stage a technical demonstration on Day 3. I hope that these presentations, along with the others from our partner nations, will be a basis for additional engagement on the margins and following this meeting that can lead to development of realistic goals to enhance capacity to combat nuclear terrorism.

As this meeting effectively launches the 2008 Plan of Work, I would like to take a moment to look ahead at the Global Initiative in 2008. It is a pivotal year for ensuring our partnership is built on firm pillars that will outlast any one individual or participant. With the many new partners that have endorsed, the normal personnel turnovers, varying levels of knowledge and experience, it is essential that we building lasting mechanisms to communicate with one another, enhance technical cooperation; continue to expand participation, and work to find new means to build on the success of the Initiative.

A key area for deepening our implementation of the principles in 2008 will be through the launch of an Exercise Program. I will give a short presentation later, but I want to reinforce the unique opportunity exercises can provide to test our capabilities using realistic real-world scenarios. For the United States; this effort will be lead by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the FBI. Both organizations are represented here today and I hope you get a chance to talk with them about this important effort.

We also see exercises as furthering our ability to strengthen ties between the counterterrorism and counterproliferation communities within our governments and within the Initiative. A cohesive and coordinated approach, including both our counterterrorism and counter-proliferation experts, is crucial to effectively combat the threat of nuclear terrorism. For example, we need to look to our counterterrorism communities to help us understand how to adapt concepts such as deterrence and denial of safe haven to the challenge of terrorists seeking to acquire or use nuclear weapons or materials. I am pleased that my colleague U.S. Ambassador for Counter Terrorism, Dell Dailey, will have the chance to address this audience on the third and final day of this Seminar.

Even as we make concrete the principles of the Initiative through the Plan of Work activities and exercise program, we need to continue to expand the participation of nations in the Initiative. Additionally; this should include efforts to reach out to the private sector and local governments and incorporate them more broadly into our work. As first responders and invested parties, these stakeholders have much to share with us about their concerns and contingency plans regarding nuclear terrorism. We will all gain from forging a closer relationship across sectors and building a more coordinated approach to combating nuclear terrorism.

We are delighted that Spain will host this year’s political level meeting in June. Mr. Carlos Vidal, Counselor on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain will be able to share more details on this important event.

The Global Initiative is off to a good start in 2008 with this seminar; and my government looks forward to close collaboration in working through the challenges of building and enhancing our partnership capacity to tackle one of the most difficult security challenges we face today.

Released on February 6, 2008

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