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Global Initiative Workshop on Model Nuclear Detection Guidelines

John C. Rood, Acting Under Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation
Remarks at the Workshop
Washington, DC
March 31, 2008


Good morning and thank you all for coming to Washington. I am pleased that there are twenty-five partner nations here today as well as representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union. You are here for a very important reason, but I do hope that you get a chance to spend at least a little time to see this great city, especially at this time of year. Each spring in Washington we herald the cherry blossoms, a gift from Japan back in 1912.

The blossoms alone are often enough of a reason to visit but coming together here as partners for this workshop is yet another demonstration of our shared commitment to combat nuclear terrorism. My thanks to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and to Vayl Oxford in particular, for your leadership in planning and organizing this workshop. I am confident that the workshop will be the first of many productive events and efforts to strengthen partnership capacities in global nuclear detection. This workshop also represents a clear step forward in implementing the Global Initiative Statement of Principles.

Developing an integrated, reliable, and time-sensitive nuclear detection architecture is a complex challenge. On the one hand, applying detection architecture may disrupt our critical transportation and commerce infrastructures. On the other hand, integrating detection capabilities into a broader national architecture can be complicated in remote border regions where there may be little infrastructure to sustain it. The guidelines these workshops establish will help form a common understanding among partners of best practices, technologies, applications, and challenges to permit the development of detection capabilities. These discussions and exchanges of ideas are critical in the partnership’s ability to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances in order to prevent illicit trafficking in such materials and substances.

Global Initiative

I would like to spend a few minutes discussing the progress that partner nations have made since the inception of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GI). The Global Initiative is already demonstrating, through activities such as this workshop, the seriousness with which partner nations are combating the threat. We are pleased with the increasing level of commitments outlined in the Plan of Work to advance the field of nuclear detection. For example, last December, 55 representatives from 15 partner nations met in Beijing to receive briefings from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and China’s Atomic Energy Authority at a Radiological Emergency Response Workshop. They demonstrated important search techniques and capabilities using detection equipment in field exercises. Morocco’s February 2007 workshop similarly focused on improving capabilities to search, confiscate, and establish control of nuclear material. The workshop also sought to improve response, investigation, and mitigation capabilities.

The United States remains committed to expanding and accelerating collective efforts in support of the 8 Global Initiative Principles. Today’s workshop is particularly critical in implementing Principle 3- Developing national detection capabilities that are interoperable.

Partner nations are demonstrating that the Global Initiative is more than a simple pledge to combat nuclear terrorism. We must continue to match our commitment with contributions by all partners and their key stakeholders, including the private sector and state and local governments. Together, the Statement of Principles represent a comprehensive formula to deter, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism.

Fourth GI Meeting and Exercise Program

In Spain this summer, Global Initiative partners will analyze recent efforts and develop a roadmap for the rest of 2008 and beyond. The fourth meeting builds upon the success of previous political meetings held in Morocco, Turkey, and Kazakhstan, respectively.

With strong support from Spain and France, the United States and Russia, as Co-Chairs, will fulfill the commitments we made in Astana last June to form an Exercise Planning Group, organize an exercise planning meeting and conduct at least one exercise before the 4th Global Initiative meeting. Spain has taken the lead in hosting the first official Global Initiative tabletop exercise in May and field exercise in the Fall of 2008. We also appreciate France’s support in hosting the first meeting of the U.S.-Russian led Exercise Planning Group in Paris in a few weeks. We hope to continue these efforts with a number of other GI exercises this year and in 2009. We also plan to address planning scenarios of concern across the partnership. A key objective of our exercise program is to test capabilities, develop new operational concepts, and ensure overall preparedness. The subject of nuclear detection will also be an important element of the exercise program, which the co-chairs identified as a priority focus at the 3rd GI meeting. I look forward to discussing ways to move ahead with the Global Initiative exercise program at the 4th meeting in Spain.

Model Nuclear Detection Guidelines Document Workshop

I want to now take a step back and discuss the significance of this workshop. The Model Nuclear Detection Guidelines Document will perform four main functions:

  • First, the Document will establish a vision and lay out the main elements of a comprehensive nuclear detection architecture.
  • Second, it will highlight existing detection guidance that countries may use to build or strengthen their detection capabilities. At the same time, it will identify gaps in the current global nuclear detection architecture where existing guidance is not yet fully developed.
  • Third, it will address these gaps through collaboration among partner nations. I hope it will build on existing guidance to establish a foundation for effective and innovative global nuclear detection.
  • Finally, the document will serve as a reference and a resource as we look for ways to strengthen our capabilities and cooperate on one of the key global initiative principles: developing national detection capabilities that are interoperable. The U.S. will provide necessary administrative support and coordination to build the compendium document, with support from partner nations. We believe that extensive consultations are the best way to ensure that the document establishes a clear, synchronized strategy for global nuclear detection.

Creating a fully functioning and effective global nuclear detection architecture will take time. Ideally, regional and global integration will involve extensive cross-border information sharing, R&D and technical exchanges, sharing best practices, and regular training and exercising to identify and fix gaps in our collective detection capabilities. Such a system will also require continued international and interagency cooperation, which we have demonstrated thus far through the Global Initiative.

As President Bush has stated, “The greatest threat we face today is the possibility of a secret and sudden attack with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons.” In a world of transnational terrorist networks and rogue regimes, America cannot confront this global threat alone. Our security depends upon deepening our commitment to the task of combating nuclear terrorism. Your hard work over the next two days in developing a draft Model Guidelines Document is a step in the right direction. It will provide both a resource of ideas for nuclear detection and a nucleus of partners working to solve one of the defining challenges of the 21st century.

Again, welcome to Washington. Your presence here is extremely encouraging and I look forward to working with you.

Released on April 7, 2008

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