State's Joseph says terrorists with nuclear weapons "greatest threat of our time"
By David McKeeby
July 18, 2006
In a July 18 speech sponsored by National Defense University, Robert Joseph, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, provided an overview of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism - a new effort unveiled by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bilateral meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, prior to the July 15-17 G8 summit.
In the post-9/11 world, Joseph said, terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida have declared their intent to acquire nuclear weapons; state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and North Korea, have continued to pursue covert weapons programs in violation of international nonproliferation regimes; and nonstate entities, such as A.Q. Kahn, have worked to sell weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technologies on the international black market.
The convergence of these factors, he said, along with the technological advances of a globalizing world "makes nuclear terrorism both the most serious international security challenge of our time, and the most urgent."
"To be wrong once is to have lost one of our cities," he said. "We do not have a second chance; we must take steps now to avert that dark future."
In recent years, diplomatic efforts have converged on the threat from numerous directions, Joseph said. Among them:
But, Joseph said, "The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism is the first initiative of its kind, one that takes a comprehensive approach to dealing with all elements of the challenge."
By bringing together these previous partnerships and then building on their success, the initiative aims to "to establish a growing network of partner nations that are committed to taking effective measures to build a layered defense-in-depth that can continuously adapt to the changing nature of the threat."
With the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency acting as an observer, the initiative calls on participants to:
"In bringing to bear all instruments of national power against this threat," Joseph said, "the initiative will bring diplomats together with first responders, forensic and technical experts, law enforcement officers, the military, and others in the public and private sectors who shape the present and future risks of nuclear terrorism."
The United States and Russia have invited several potential partner nations as well as the IAEA to attend an initial meeting later this year to further develop the initiative and to sign a statement of principles.
"The Global Initiative will not only reinforce our national efforts, but it signals to all participating nations the importance of developing comprehensive approaches to combat the threat of WMD terrorism," Joseph said.
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