Launching of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Conference on Monitoring for Radionuclides

M. le Secrétaire Exécutif, M. le Directeur Scientifique, dignitaries and members of the scientific community, thank you for honoring me with this invitation to speak to you today.

This year, Americans celebrated the memory of one of our great presidents, President John F. Kennedy, as we mark the 50th anniversary of his death. We honor his tireless efforts to bring about equality and freedom not just for Americans, but for people all over the world.

It was also 50 years ago this year that President Kennedy outlined a pathway to reduce the threat of nuclear attack. He proposed a treaty that would bind countries to cease testing of explosive nuclear weapons. He famously declared, “With our hopes go the hopes of all mankind.”

That idea ultimately grew into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the United States believes is an important and essential step towards safeguarding our world from nuclear proliferation.

The United States has observed a moratorium on all nuclear explosive testing since 1992. President Obama has emphasized that his administration is committed to seeking the ratification of the agreement by all relevant parties, and its early entry into force.

The United States offers the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization our moral support; we also offer it our financial support. The U.S. has voluntarily contributed more than $20 million in the past three years to sustain the organization, over and above our $30 million annual assessment.

I am pleased that Lassina Zerbo has assumed his duties as Executive Secretary of the CTBTO and is able to join us today. As you know, Mr. Executive Secretary, the United States supported your candidacy and we look forward to continuing to support you as you build up the verification regime that is so important to the functioning of this agreement. We are behind you as you strive to move this treaty closer to becoming a reality.

The presence of a Burkinabe at the head of this organization is appropriate, and reinforces the reputation of Burkina Faso as a force for stability on the African continent and a global exponent of peace and understanding among nations.

It is encouraging to witness the participation of so many African nations here today as you share your experiences on the collection of data and establishing National Data Centers.

I would like to welcome the scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Woods, to Burkina Faso. I applaud them for the work that they have done here in the area of radionuclide detection and monitoring.

I want to especially thank the government of Burkina Faso and in particular the scientists at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique, led by Mr. Oumar Sanogo, for their indispensable contributions to this partnership.

Our two nations cooperate on many fronts: agriculture, economic development, security and trade to name just a few. I sincerely hope that our joint work in the field of science of technology will continue to blossom from here and bear fruit.

President Kennedy vowed:  “We shall do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just.” Today, the United States and Burkina Faso continue to advance toward that vision, propelled by the strong friendship between our two nations and by the spirit of cooperation that has made this remarkable scientific effort possible.

Thank you, and I wish you a very fruitful session here in Ouagadougou today.