Ambassador Kennedy Speaks at Nuclear Disarmament Working Group

Third Plenary of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification in Tokyo

AMBASSADOR KENNEDY: Good morning. Minister Kikawada, distinguished guests, I want to thank the government of Japan for hosting this third plenary of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification, and for its important and practical leadership in pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons.

This initiative was launched in December 2014 by the State Department and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) to advance our shared objectives. It brings together nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states to overcome the many technical and procedural challenges of nuclear disarmament.

I’m honored to join you this morning, as this event has great personal significance for me. President Kennedy’s proudest achievement was the limited nuclear test-ban treaty. He understood how difficult this work is and how important.

In his speech at American University he said:

Let us focus on a more practical, more attainable peace – based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions – on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. … Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process – a way of solving problems.

That is what all of you are doing. We have made massive strides since that time, reducing U.S. nuclear stockpiles by 85 percent from their Cold War high and concluding the new START treaty with Russia, which has seen almost 200 inspections in over 11,000 bilateral modifications since entering into force.

No president has a stronger commitment to nuclear disarmament than President Obama. That’s why he came to Hiroshima, to give your work new momentum and the world new hope. He came to remind us, as he said:

We must change our mindset about war itself. To prevent conflict through diplomacy and strive to end conflicts after they have begun. To see our growing inter-dependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation, not violent competition, to define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build. Perhaps all of us must re-imagine our connections to one another as members of one human race.

Your work takes patience and persistence. It takes verification and transparency. It takes engagement. It reminds the world that peace is possible. This week’s session is of historic and global importance and I wish great success in advancing our shared goals.