Co-Founder, Co-Chair, and Strategic Advisor
Statement of Former Senator Sam Nunn on the Nomination of Laura Holgate, United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Chairman Schatz, Ranking Member Hagerty, Senator Cardin, Members of the Foreign Relations Committee, I am honored to present Laura Holgate to the Committee, and I strongly recommend that she be confirmed as our nation’s Ambassador to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Our nation is fortunate to have a nominee with the experience, the knowledge and the diplomatic skills that Laura would bring to this important role, if confirmed by the Senate.
Laura has served for more than 30 years in critical national security positions inside and outside government. She has broad experience, skilled leadership, sound judgment, and an international reputation as a capable diplomat and persuasive advocate of U.S. priorities. She also brings a background and spirit of non-partisanship. I know first-hand her history of working closely with Senators and staff.
Mr. Chairman, Senator Hagerty, I have known Laura for almost all of her professional career. She was part of the Ash Carter/Harvard University team that worked closely with my partner, Senator Dick Lugar, and me to persuade Congress to create what became known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. Laura later led this program at the Pentagon and was part of the team that achieved one of the most significant global security steps of our era – Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine getting rid of all their nuclear weapons and joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Laura has been at the forefront of policy innovation and implementation to reduce nuclear, biological, and chemical threats for her entire career.
When the Nuclear Threat Initiative was created in 2001 by Ted Turner and myself, I knew that we needed Laura, and I persuaded her to become one of NTI’s first employees. Her strong relationships with colleagues in U.S. departments and agencies, on Capitol Hill, and around the world helped her work with others to improve nuclear security and keep weapons and weapons-usable materials out of terrorist hands globally.
At NTI, she led a number of international threat reduction projects that helped make the world safer. In 2001, she directed NTI’s important role in the removal of two bombs’ worth of highly enriched uranium from a poorly secured facility in Serbia. This project, led by the U.S. government with cooperation from Serbia, Russia and the IAEA, laid the groundwork for the U.S. government’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative. Most recently, she helped produce NTI’s Nuclear Security Index, which is recognized globally as the premier, open-source tool and resource for tracking and improving the security of some of the deadliest materials in the world. Importantly, Laura has continued her life-long commitment to broadening the number of talented women in the nuclear security field – enhancing our national and global security. Laura knows that giving women a fair shake strengthens our nation’s security.
Laura served from 2009 to 2016 at the National Security Council, where she exhibited strong leadership in coordinating U.S. government efforts to reduce WMD threats and prevent catastrophic terrorism. In particular, she led U.S. preparations for the four Nuclear Security Summits under President Obama, which made significant progress in securing nuclear materials globally.
In conclusion, Chairman Schatz, Ranking Member Hagerty, and members of the Committee, I am confident that Laura is fully prepared to serve in this critical role. I strongly support her nomination by President Biden. I urge the Committee’s support, and I urge her confirmation by the full Senate.
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