Remarks for the Award Ceremony of the Nazarbayev Prize

Remarks for the Award Ceremony of the Nazarbayev Prize

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Your Excellencies, President Tokayev, President Nazarbayev, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it is a distinct privilege to be here in Nur-Sultan to represent the Nuclear Threat Initiative on this august occasion.

On behalf of NTI and its Co-chairs, Ernest Moniz, Sam Nunn, and Ted Turner, I thank the government of Kazakhstan for sponsoring this award and hosting this ceremony. I join in honoring this year’s recipients of the Nazarbayev Prize — Lassina Zerbo and our departed friend Yukiya Amano.

Over the past several decades, few have done more to sustain the global nonproliferation regime and reduce nuclear dangers than the two award recipients.

An outstanding diplomat, Yukiya Amano lived a life of service, including as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Under his leadership, The IAEA oversaw the Agency’s crucial role in verification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, contributed significantly to the Nuclear Security Summit process and helped promote the safe and secure expansion of peaceful nuclear energy.

NTI had the honor of working closely with Director General Amano and his team for more than ten years on the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank here in Kazakhstan. The realization of the LEU bank is an example of his leadership and commitment to building a safer world for future generations. This year we look forward to the delivery of uranium to the bank, making it operational and realizing the vision that we have shared for more than a decade. NTI will be forever grateful for Director General Amano’s commitment to this project and to global nuclear nonproliferation and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, who will all miss him dearly.

Lassina Zerbo has been an indefatigable champion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the urgency of bringing it into force. With Lassina at its helm, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization has expanded and strengthened the International Monitoring System, thereby bolstering the verification tools available currently to the international community to detect nuclear explosions, and ensuring this critical verification mechanism will be ready and effective when the Treaty ultimately enters into force. Thanks to the IMS, the CTBTO has accurately detected all six North Korean nuclear tests and continues to serve as an important resource for the international community’s understanding of the DPRK’s nuclear activities.

During his tenure, Executive Secretary Zerbo also established the CTBTO Youth Group and launched the Group of Eminent Persons, of which I proudly serve as a member, to help reinvigorate political momentum to bring the Treaty into force. NTI shares this goal and looks forward to continuing to work closely with Executive Secretary Zerbo.

Today’s increasingly complex world is characterized by significant, perhaps unprecedented, nuclear dangers in the Euro-Atlantic, northeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. During these unsettled times, the global community must do everything it can to reduce nuclear risks and preserve and strengthen the treaties and agreements that prohibit nuclear proliferation and nuclear testing and advance nuclear disarmament. The IAEA and the CTBTO are central to this mission and we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the leaders of these organizations whom we are honoring today for their enduring contributions to keeping humanity safe from nuclear catastrophe.

I would like to close by once again thanking Kazakhstan not only for its support for these awards but, more broadly for its steadfast leadership on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. President Nazarbayev’s bold decision to remove nuclear weapons from Kazakhstan soil remains an enduring example for other countries to follow as collectively we seek to realize the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Thank you very much.

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