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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Readout on 2012 Nuclear Security Summit Preparations

FPC Briefing
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins
Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs
Foreign Press
Washington, DC
September 8, 2010

Date: 09/08/2010 Location: Washington D.C. Description: Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins talks about Nuclear Security during a Foreign Press Center roundtable event on September 8, 2010. - State Dept Image

For a copy of this briefing's audio file, please contact the Foreign Press Center.

10:00 A.M. EDT

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Thanks. I think I’ll start by just saying a few words about a Nuclear Security Summit seminar we had last week in Warsaw. And the reason I wanted to talk about this is because it’s the first time that one of the attendees, countries at the Summit actually took it upon themselves to host a regional meeting. And one of the goals – there are many goals, of course, of the Summit, but one of the kind of unwritten goals that are not really listed in the work plan is that countries would take leadership roles, and particularly within particular regions, and do outreach. And outreach is, of course, a very big part of follow-up to the Summit to help keep the momentum going after the meeting, particularly between now and 2012, and one of the goals was that we hope countries would do that. And so Poland was the first country to willingly say that we’re going to host a meeting. And the goal of the meeting, really, was to bring together other countries in Central and Eastern Europe who did not attend the Summit itself, and really to ensure that they were aware of what happened, the outcomes, some of the goals set out in the work plan and the communiqué. So needless to say, the United States was very pleased that Poland took on this role on their own.

The meeting was held, as I said, in Warsaw on Monday, and we had about 16 participants, five of which who were at the Summit. I think that what was positive was they wanted to bring into the mix countries who were there to kind of be around to talk about the experience. But there were 16 in total and some of the other ones included Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia; and then some of the ones who were at the Summit included U.S., of course, Germany, and we also had an IAEA representative there. So the meeting was a chance, as I said, to meet with countries who had not attended the Summit to start what we hope will be something that will be followed up by other countries. We’re hoping that countries will take a leadership role in some of the other regions in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and do something similar.

And as you probably know, we’re going to be having our sherpa meeting, the next meeting for the upcoming meeting – upcoming Summit on November 2nd in Buenos Aires in Argentina. And that will be the first time the sherpas meet after the Summit in April. But we’re hoping throughout next year, as we continue to meet on these official bases for the sherpas and sous-sherpas, that we will continue to have these kind of regional meetings to keep up the momentum and engage countries who were not at the Summit, because that’s very important. Because the goals of the Summit that we want to achieve are really global, and it’s important that countries who were not at the Summit also understand the importance of the goals of the Summit and play their role in it, and also to do what they can to ensure that all the things that were set up in the work plan are actually accomplished on a global scale.

I think I’ll just leave it at that. I mean, that’s really just a background. It was a one-day meeting. The agenda was pretty – we got – we did walk-through remarks and I gave a background on the outcomes and we had a couple of presentations from the Polish Government on some of their activities. And then we had an IAEA representative who came in and talked about the role of the IAEA in nuclear security. Then we just saw – had some closing remarks and had a discussion amongst ourselves.

And as I said, the goal now is to – we’ll report on this at the sherpa meeting that we’ll have in Argentina. I’m also starting to encourage other countries to do some of the meetings in other regions. And this is something that we think is a very positive story that we want to get out to people to know some of the positive things that are going on in the nuclear security field and how it’s becoming a global issue and we’re having a lot of countries engaged and wanted to do their own – play a part.

QUESTION: Has anything been actually decided in Warsaw during the seminar in Warsaw and – some agreement or anything more concrete?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: There weren’t any specific agreements there. I think there was a feeling that we might follow up again maybe in a few months to continue to engage this country. I mean, the thing that’s important is that it’s a beginning and I think we want to continue to engage these countries. And it was the first time, I believe, we’ve had these countries getting together, obviously, after the Summit to talk about the issue and explain the outcomes of the Summit itself. So it was an opportunity for a country to talk about some of the things they’re doing. We had a good presentation by Romania, for example. But as far as any particular agreements at that seminar, there weren’t any at that seminar, though we did make sure that everyone was aware of the agreements in the work plan and hoping that they could play a role in that.

QUESTION: Talking about leadership, has the Hungarian diplomacy taken any initiative?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: On this specific topic?


AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Not – no, because this is the first one that happened in that region after the Summit. So they have not taken any leadership role like this. But countries in the region are doing things that are related to it; either they’re working with the U.S. Government, for example, or the European Union on export control issues, on nuclear – other Nuclear Security Summit issues. Their role in the – playing a role in the IAEA, providing funding to the Nuclear Security Fund. So countries in the region are doing things related to the nuclear security issue, whether they’re actually taking a role of hosting a seminar or just being responsible in other ways in trying to secure nuclear material.

QUESTION: So what? First time it was on April in D.C., right?


QUESTION: So were there any serious differences among these participating nations, and is that related to the reason why the Eastern European countries are not energetically participating in the first Summit?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Were there any differences during the discussions or –

QUESTION: Yes, or – they had a communiqué, right, at the end of the Summit?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: A communiqué, right.

QUESTION: It was about the nuclear security, right?


QUESTION: Yeah, and were there any kind of – I mean disputes or differences among participating nations at first Summit? And if it is, what’s the main agenda for second nuclear Summit, which will be hosted by the South Korean Government next year?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Yes, thanks. Yes, the two deliverables that came out of the Summit was a communiqué and a work plan, both of which were really negotiated and discussed by the sherpas throughout the year and the sous-sherpas throughout the year. And so at the date of the actual Summit, those were already done, completed in the communiqué and the work plan – were agreed to.

During the actual negotiations prior to the Summit, one very positive thing I will say – and as you know, the participants included states who were part of the Nonproliferation Treaty and states who were not – one of the things we made very clear at the very – at the onset, and we had wide agreement amongst the participants, is that the issues of the Nonproliferation Treaty which were going to be discussed at the upcoming NPT Review Conference were separate from this discussion. And so the issues of nonproliferation and peaceful uses were separate.

And I think that set a stage, I think, from the very beginning, of realizing we’re focusing on an issue that everyone cares about. No one wants nuclear material to be vulnerable because it hurts of all of us and can harm all of us. And I think from the very beginning we kept that – kept a focus on that and I think that really helped to eliminate any major differences. There were some – I mean, there were times when there was sometimes a push to have some of those issues discussed in the meeting themselves and there were efforts – there were questions about whether radiological material should be included here because some countries definitely have more radiological concern than HEU and plutonium. So we reflected that to some degree or a small degree, but to some degree in both the work plan and the communiqué.

But overall, there were not a lot of contentious issues, because we – everyone was focused on the nuclear security issue. We realized we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to have an agreement where our heads of state were going to actually endorse the document. So it was very important that we find areas of agreement from the very beginning.

QUESTION: At the first Summit, how many head of states participated? As far as I remember, it was about 60? How many?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Forty-seven altogether.

QUESTION: Forty-seven, yeah.

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: And three international organizations were invited. I would say off the top of my head – I can get you this information – out of the 47, I would say maybe 40, maybe 43, and others because of health or things like that were not able to attend. But I could get that. I can get you the specific number -- for heads of state. So give us – vast majority were heads of state.

QUESTION: Right, right.

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: And for the UN and IAEA and for the EU, there was all – highest representation from those.

QUESTION: Right. The reason why the first Summit was very successful was because of Mr. Obama’s initiative. And the second Summit, we are worrying about how many head of state or how many participating countries are going to visit South Korea at this time, so do you think – I mean, the second Summit will be as successful as it was in April?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Our goal is that – I think our goal, and plus the goal of the ROK, is that it will be just as successful as the first. And we are working very closely with South Korea. All of the sherpa meetings are going to be jointly led by the U.S. and South Korea. We’re working right now very closely with South Korea, already from the very beginning. So we’re going to be working very closely, making sure that it’s just as successful as the first one.

QUESTION: All right. And at the Summit, you don’t particularly deal with certain nations’ nuclear problems such as North Korea or Iran, right?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Yeah. Those will be in a whole different category of issues – that wouldn’t – were not discussed in the context of the nuclear security issues.

QUESTION: Right, right. So in these discussions, you are concentrating on the safety of the nuclear materials mainly in the former Soviet Union, right? Because that’s why Eastern and Central European companies are – should be active in this, right, in – right?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Yes, in the Soviet Union – yes, in the former Soviet Union and everywhere. It’s just – I mean, as you know, the U.S. has been working on securing material in the former Soviet Union since the early 1990s. And so that’s obviously one place, but it’s everywhere. It’s wherever we have those materials; that’s what the issue is. And that’s why we’ve had a diverse number of countries there, so --

QUESTION: But do you care for, like, transfer of nuclear material from one state to, like, a non-state actor?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Yes. I mean, that’s one of the most important things which we care about is ensuring that that – I mean, that doesn’t happen. I mean, we’re concerned about the non-state actors and the terrorists. And that’s why a lot of the – if you – when you read the work plan, you’ll see --


AMBASSADOR JENKINS: -- it focuses not just on security and the material at the source, but all the issues involved – the nuclear smuggling, border security, all of the relevant international forums like the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. So it looks like the whole spectrum, not just what we call the first line of defense, which is securing the material, but what we call the second line of defense as well, which is the border security work and export controls, and making sure that that material does not cross borders.

So it’s – so even though we say – people look at it as – even though we say four-year effort and they focus specifically on securing the material at the source, really it includes everything that’s involved, including all the different international organizations involved. And that’s why we had three international organizations at the Summit.

QUESTION: Right. It’s still September, and the next meeting will not be held until 2012 – so it’s a little bit far away from the actual Summit. Why do you have to meet so soon? What is the main reason for all of the planning?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Because it takes a long time. I mean, the Summit that we had in April, we had worked on it over a year. We had meetings in preparation for the Summit. But we – it takes a long time to prepare for the Summit. So if you can imagine – I mean, we had the final document, but the – what it took to get to that final document, when you have 47 countries and three international organizations trying to get the language and everything, it was – it took a lot of work, and a lot of work in between the sherpa meetings and the Sous-sherpa meetings to actually make that happen.

And so now, we have to plan for the next one, which includes what’s going to be the issues that we’re going to be trying to focus on, what are the issues going to focus on, working with South Korea on all kinds of issues, not on the – just the substance, but the whole planning of it, the logistics, which is a very big part of the whole thing. So there’s a lot that we have to do on that, and I think this first meeting, since it is the first meeting, we’ll get a good sense at that point of exactly what we have ahead of us that we need to accomplish.

QUESTION: So the sherpa meetings means preparatory meetings, the participation of some – I mean, not – I mean, not heads of states or – but just some sherpas are important?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: (Laughter.) They do everything. We’ve had a number of stories of sherpas flying over with their heads of state and briefing them and things like that. They were very – they’re very important, yes.

QUESTION: And this – at these meetings --

QUESTION: Who’s the sherpa for U.S. Government?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: It’s Gary Samore from the NSC.

QUESTION: All right. So how can – he’s working with 47, like, different sherpas at the same time? They use mainly email or do they use conference call or how do --

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Well, emails are great, I’ll tell you. (Laughter.) Actually, we’ve had – we – and of course, you have the meetings themselves, where you have – you always have a host country that wants --


AMBASSADOR JENKINS: -- to have it. As you know, Argentina is in November. So countries come forward and offer their country as a host and then issues – like, a huge room, of course, where everyone is sitting around the table and he and Laura Holgate, who is a Sous-sherpa, are very, very good at hosting these meetings.

But then of course, in between the meetings, you have a lot of email exchanges, you have documents, you send out the emails to all the sherpas, request comments back to the NSC, for example. They’ll get together and we’ll meet, we’ll go over the comments, make sure everybody is – comments are well-recognized. And this is something I thought was also very positive, is we definitely got the sense that countries felt that their concerns and their issues were recognized. We have – we follow up with a face-to-face meeting after we’ve had a chance to get everyone’s comments and make changes. And that worked out really, really well. When I was actually at the White House yesterday, we were talking about how well that worked.

So it was – even though we only had, I guess, four meetings of herpas and we had some sous-sherpas, there was a lot of work that was done by email.

QUESTION: Is President Obama – be arriving to Korea to this next Summit or --

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: I have every assumption he will be there.

QUESTION: Ambassador, what about Hungary’s participation and role at the meeting in Poland?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Hungary was there – and actually – and I can provide it to you – they were one of the countries – there were only maybe three that actually stood up and had presentations and it was a lot of give-and-take by word, but Hungary was one of the countries that did stand up and have a presentation. And actually, I can get that for you, because they didn’t have any PowerPoints or anything, but they provided us something in writing afterwards. So they were actually – it was actually positive because they did stand up and say something about the work that they’re – ongoing right now, they’re doing on nuclear security, and I can get that for you.

QUESTION: All right. Can you say something about – more concrete, in some detailed way about the cooperation with Poland in this area? What is Poland doing, actually?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Poland is doing a number of things. One of the things it’s doing is it’s working with the Department of Energy in their second line of defense work – as I mentioned, working, installing radiation equipment, border security equipment on their border, the border of – I think I wrote this down.

QUESTION: Of all eastern border?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine and – outside the EU, of course, so it’s – yeah, Belarus, and then there are also some – actually working with the Department of Energy to install – to get some handheld equipment and install the – fix the radiation portal monitors.

QUESTION: So they are still working on it?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: They’re doing that, yes.

QUESTION: It’s not been – it hasn’t been installed yet? These --

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: No, these are going to be installed. This will – they have 2010 through 2012, so obviously, some are being installed now and they’re going to be installing some more. And then Poland, of course, like a lot of other countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, are returning spent fuel to Russia, and they’re in the process of doing that now. They have already done some and that – they’re still completing that work. They’re doing a lot --

QUESTION: Nuclear fuel?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Spent fuel, right.

QUESTION: But Poland doesn’t have a nuclear reactor right now. I mean, after – (inaudible) --

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: They have research reactors and – yeah.

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: And the goal is to get all of it back to Russia. They’re also doing some reactor conversion or whatever research – reduced research and test reactor conversions, which they will have to – they hope to finish in 2012. And they’re doing some work on radiological security, which of course, is not in the nuclear security realm because we’re looking just at HEU plutonium, but we still care about radiological material as well, so they’re doing some upgrades on really – yeah, but they said a lot of the hospital – were in the hospitals, and that’s also being funded by – helped being funded by the U.S.

QUESTION: So it’ll be funded by the U.S., right?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Right. We’ve already done a lot of work there from 2004 to 2006, and they are going to be doing some more work on radiological security.

QUESTION: About the structure of the Nuclear Summit, we do not have secretarial body requesting a meeting. So if there’s some agreement then that if we need some kind of like an executive body, too, to make it happen – I heard that IAEA can be – can like perform those kind of role. Is there any kind of progress about that conversation where the IAEA can be taking those kind of roles?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Yeah. I’m not aware of any specific conversations like that. I mean, you’re talking about a secretary just to focus on the Nuclear Security Summit, to actually make it happen?

QUESTION: Right. Yeah, just like working plan; maybe someone who is monitoring or who has to execute what we have agreed upon. So maybe IAEA dealing with those kind of issues.

AMBASSASDOR JENKINS: Yes. That’s an issue of discussion actually right now and what – how are we going to monitor or keep track of the commitments made. And we definitely want to have a mechanism, and I think that’s one of the things we’re going to be talking about in the future is what’s the best way and what’s the best body or country or whoever to actually host or keep track of the commitments made.

QUESTION: Is IAEA leadership very willing to assume that kind of role or they are –

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: I don’t think we’ve had that discussion. At least, there may be discussions ongoing in different parts of the government or with others in the IAEA. I’m not aware of that, that they’re – that they have an interest in it, but they might.

QUESTION: What’s the U.S. position right now?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: We don’t really have one on that because we’re just – right now, we’re just thinking through the process ourselves about what it would look like, how it will be maintained. Would it be a computerized something or countries would input their data in terms of what they’re doing to follow up on their commitments? So we’re still talking about that right now. We haven’t decided yet. And it’s not really the U.S. position. It’s not just a U.S. decision either; since other countries have to be a part of this, we need to engage other countries.

QUESTION: Do you have to have a consensus to –

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Yeah, consensus would be good. (Laughter.) Yeah. And I think we can get one on that because that’s really just a process question. It’s not – I don’t think it’s really a substance question. It’s more of a process – what’s the best way in which we do that, at least I --

QUESTION: What’s the next milestone we have to achieve on this process? Because you just started the process of second Nuclear Summit, it’s a little bit early to tell. But maybe you have some milestone in mind that you may want to achieve.

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Well, I guess my personal milestone, one would be the four-year effort to the security of all the nuclear material will go to the end of 2013. So it would be great if we – most – a lot of the commitments that have been made, the work plan are achieved by a mid-point or something. I mean, some of the commitments are easier to do than others, obviously. I mean, moving HEU around is going to take a lot more because they have a lot of agreements. You’ve got to think if the countries want to ratify certain things, certain conventions. So a milestone would be how far have we gone looking at the work plan in terms of achieving our goals as we look toward the 2013 timeframe for the four-year plan.

QUESTION: Is Gary Samore still dealing with North Korea and sanctions?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: I believe, and I mean, I’m trying to think of the NSC structure. I believe he does still work – it may be one of the – the Nuclear Security Summit is just one of the areas under his large portfolio. And so nuclear nonproliferation issues in North Korea, I would assume, falls under his portfolio because he does the nuclear nonproliferation work. He does the WMD work and he has a number of people work underneath him, and Laura Holgate’s one of them and she does a lot of this – all the Nuclear Security Summit work.

QUESTION: Do you remember who was representing Poland at this seminary in Warsaw?

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Marek – I don’t want to say his last name incorrectly. I’m going to spell it – S-z-c-z-y-g-i-e-l.

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: He’s from the MFA and he’s also the Sherpa for Poland.

QUESTION: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, right.

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: Yeah. And it was a great meeting in Poland, with lots of good parts that we’re using as the example, and Marek’s going to be – he doesn’t know it yet – but we might ask him to say a few words about the meeting at some of our upcoming sherpa meetings. And now I’m engaged in working with other countries to play a leadership role and we’re using that as an example of the way in which they could design a similar meeting. So, we’re very appreciative.

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