NTI's Tenth Anniversary: Remarks by Sam Nunn


Thank you, Ambassador Hafström.  We are very grateful for your nation’s leadership in reducing nuclear risk and for your hospitality this evening.  The House of Sweden is the perfect setting for our anniversary celebration, and we are delighted to be here with you.  We are also grateful to have your outstanding former Ambassador Rolf Ekeus as a valued member of our Board.
And thanks to all of you, for joining us to mark our 10th anniversary of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.  
As we celebrate our global partners this evening, one of them, Bill Potter, reminded me yesterday of an old African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.  
Tonight, we will celebrate going far together with our partners, but we hope to go fast with tonight’s program.  We hope to avoid Albert Einstein’s conclusion when he once remarked after an evening of long speeches – “I have just developed a new theory of eternity.”
Working in partnerships around the globe, including with many of you in this room, I am pleased to say that together, over the past ten years, we have made a difference: 
  • We’ve helped secure vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear materials that could have been used by terrorists, and we’ve helped pave the way toward a global effort to secure all dangerous nuclear materials.
  • We’ve helped strengthen crucial international organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization operate more effectively. 
  • We’ve helped break down communication barriers in developing world-class standards on nuclear security.
  • We’ve brought together public health officials focused on early warning and surveillance of disease outbreaks in regions of turmoil.
  • We’ve helped the public better understand the urgency of strengthening global security by reducing the risk of use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, preventing their spread and ultimately ending them as a threat to the world.
We have a bold mission, and we have taken bold action.  We are not simply a thinking or analytic organization—though we do think – occasionally.  We don’t just point the way, we demonstrate the way forward by taking concrete steps.
We will be presenting 10 awards this evening – one for each of our 10 years – to honor those who have made significant contributions to reducing the risk of weapons of mass destruction.
Tonight – special appreciation is owed:
To our dedicated, international Board of Directors and our Advisors:  You bring great credibility to NTI because you have profound respect on global issues in your own countries and around the globe.  
To our funders – beginning, of course, with the man who called me 11 years ago with both a vision and money behind it – Ted Turner.  Ted sees a way to make the world better and believes, no matter the odds, that he can do it. His optimism is infectious, and we are grateful to you, Ted, beyond words. 
Warren Buffett stepped in – in a big way– when NTI was at a financial crossroads, and he did it without preferred stock or options or a guaranteed return.  Warren has the keenest understanding of the risk, the probabilities and the consequences of nuclear terrorism of anybody I have ever run across.  We are grateful to Warren and to the Buffett Foundation for putting their faith in NTI.
We have other wonderful and generous funders who have played a crucial role -- not only in providing resources – but in inspiring our efforts.  I must mention Pete and Michael Peterson – Fred Iseman -- George Russell --the Carnegie Corporation of New York -- the MacArthur Foundation – the Skoll Foundation – the Rockefeller Foundation and many others.  We thank you for your faith in NTI and your support of our mission.
To NTI’s staff – under the tremendous leadership over the past 10 years of Charlie Curtis and Joan Rohlfing -- you are the ones who make it happen, and you are the reason NTI has exceeded my high expectations.  You are an inspiration to me every day.
I must add that Chuck Bowsher – former Comptroller General of the United States -- and Taylor Glover, Ted’s financial advisor – have provided invaluable advice in handling our accounting and finances.
Finally, there couldn’t have been NTI accomplishments over the past decade without the dedication of those in this room tonight.  You are our partners, both directly and indirectly.  I thank you for your dedication to the hard work still before us. 
We have a short video now that we believe captures the essence of our mission and our work.  Thank you.
October 4, 2011

NTI Co-Chairman and CEO Sam Nunn discusses NTI's history at its 10th anniversary celebration.

Sam Nunn
Sam Nunn

Co-Chair, NTI