Last Monday, I joined students and young professionals at a day-long conference at the Department of State to discuss the security challenges we all face in the 21st Century.
The 3rd Annual Generation Prague Conference highlighted the agenda and accomplishments that have followed President Obama's 2009 Prague speech where he outlined the United States' commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have been with us for more than sixty-five years. Getting to "zero" will not occur overnight. Moving the Prague Agenda forward will only be possible if a new generation of leaders embraces this nuclear security challenge as an opportunity.
Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Rose Gottemoeller, participated in a panel with Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman, and Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro. The three principals discussed how they serve to make the United States and its allies safer and more secure. It will be up to future leaders in our generation to continue the ultimate pursuit and eventual success incrementally through treaty and non-treaty frameworks. Our parents grew up during the height of the Cold War where nuclear fall-out shelters were commonplace in their schools and basements. Conversely, those attending the conference, like me, were infants during Cold War. Even so, our generation will bear the legacy costs stemming from the decades-long nuclear arms race.
Aiding us in the pursuit of further nuclear arms reductions are innovations of the information age. For example, iPads could be used to aid the verification and implementation of arms control. Much like a smart system installed in a home, inspections could be undertaken without an inspector having to travel to a nuclear site under safeguards. I'm excited to see how the next generation will develop new mechanisms and mediums to advance arms control and international security policy. By applying 21st century statecraft tools and open source technology to advance arms control by potentially verifying state compliance with treaty obligations, our generation is well-positioned to overcome the obstacles that have effectively stood in the way of "a world free of nuclear weapons.”
The Generation Prague Conference was just one piece to a larger effort that calls on the abilities of people all around the world to build a security environment that makes disarmament possible. As someone who was just beginning his professional career when President Obama spoke in Prague, I'm excited to have an chance to work on policy this summer that will get us just a little closer to what Sam Nunn coined, “the mountaintop: a world free of nuclear weapons.”