Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini's opening remarks at the IAG meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) on 11th June 2018, Helsinki.
A warm welcome to all of you to this Implementation and Assessment Group meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Hosting this meeting is yet another contribution of Finland to the activities of the GICNT.
Earlier, in 2015 Finland hosted the Plenary meeting of this partnership and for years 2015 – 2017 Finland chaired the Nuclear Detection Working Group. Since the 2017 Plenary meeting Finland has been leading the work of the Implementation and Assessment Group with Ambassador Luoto as the Coordinator and Dr. Peräjärvi from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) as his adviser.
I want to thank the Co-Chairs, the Russian Federation and The United States for all the support they have given to us in performing this task.
I also want to thank Russia and the United States for their leadership in combatting nuclear terrorism. It is of great importance that the work for improved nuclear security is being carried on without interruption by this global partnership of nations. My appreciation goes also to all of the participants and their governments for contributing to this important GICNT event with your knowledge and expertise.
We are living in a world where the risk of terrorism is all too real for our countries. We are facing groups and individual actors inspired by extremist thoughts that have no moral constraint of using whatever means they have available for malicious purposes - even nuclear or radiological material. We are facing the risks worldwide and this is why we need international cooperation. The voluntary contributions that partner nations are giving through participation in GICNT’s activities are invaluable.
These times are difficult for promoting non-proliferation and disarmament. The recent meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the 2020 Review Conference for the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons did not bring tangible results. Still, the NPT remains a cornerstone for non-proliferation and disarmament.
This month of June, we are celebrating the fact that it is exactly 50 years since the NPT was opened for signatures. The best anniversary gift would of course be that we would see progress in the efforts towards denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula. We don’t know yet if and when a negotiating process could begin. Even in the best possible scenario there is a long road ahead.
Finland is a strong supporter of nuclear non-proliferation and enhanced nuclear security. We were among the countries pushing for the Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation 50 years ago and were the first country in the world to sign in 1971 and ratify in 1972 the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, required from countries joining the NPT.
There is a growing need to address the threats related to weapons of mass destruction and non-state actors. Finland has consistently supported the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1540, complemented by resolution 2325.
I would also like to underline the importance of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT). The convention is a key legal instrument in deterring terrorist acts and offers a framework for international cooperation and legal assistance. Finland welcomes all efforts to its universalization and full implementation.
As a country with an expanding program of nuclear energy production and the first country to build a geological final disposal site for nuclear waste, we feel a responsibility for the best possible implementation of safety, safeguards and security standards. Participating in international cooperation towards these goals is a natural element of our policy.
Apart from active participation in international treaties, bodies and networks, Finland regularly contributes to collaborative projects: we are supporting the initiative against illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials in Ukraine and we have joined forces with The Stimson Center in a study and outreach project on improving global radiological source security.
Finland recently adopted a CBRNE strategy – first of its kind for our country. Apart from listing the specific responsibilities of various authorities and agencies, the strategy stresses the key role of a coordinated government policy.
This is what the GICNT is all about; bringing together the different authorities responsible for the safety and security of our citizens to develop effective means of communication and cooperation. And these joint efforts should not be confined to one country alone: we need regional and wider international cooperation as promoted by this network.
Against the somewhat dim international background it is even more important that GICNT’s network of 88 partner nations and five international observer organizations is working together to prevent, detect and respond to nuclear terrorism. The active participation of so many nations, and the fact that the GICNT has already hosted more than 100 events, proves that this partnership is playing an important role in global nuclear security. Your meeting today and tomorrow in Helsinki is yet another testimony to this.
As the Foreign Minister I’m pleased to be able to welcome to Finland participants from so many of the GICNT’s partner nations and international observer organizations. I wish the best of success for your meeting here in Helsinki!