State Department's Countryman: Future generations will need to take up nonproliferation

While the U.S. is working toward a nuclear-free world, future generations will likely need to step up to continue the nonproliferation efforts of the current generation, a State Department representative said on Tuesday.

Thomas Countryman, the assistant secretary of the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, made the remarks on Tuesday during a speech at George Washington University in Washington. Countryman discussed the efforts the U.S. made in the last four years to move closer to a world free of nuclear weapons. He said many of the steps were taken by the next generation.

"Your generation is up to this challenge," Countryman said. "At the 2010 Review Conference for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, youth representatives delivered a rousing statement to delegates advocating for a world without nuclear weapons. They represented over a quarter of the 2,000 accredited (non-government organization) participants. The new generation's voice was similarly on display at May's NPT Preparatory Committee meeting. The NPT and the international nonproliferation regime will continue to face challenges for years to come, so the efforts of young people are particularly important for safeguarding the world's most dangerous weapons."

Countryman went on to discuss efforts the U.S. made in the last four years in respect to the NPT, the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Disposition Agreement, nuclear security and a renewed focus on implementation. He discussed the June speech made by President Barack Obama in Berlin that announced multiple steps toward a safer, nuclear-free world.

Countryman said the U.S. is working diligently to approach a nuclear-free world, but he said that world was unlikely to occur in his lifetime. He urged attendees to take up the cause and make a safer world a reality.

"As you can see, we're hard at work every day trying to take concrete steps to implement the Prague Agenda," Countryman said. "But the reality is that the journey to a safer, nuclear-free world has just begun, and we can't get there alone. We most likely won't get there in my life time but, gradually, small steps can build to produce a big change for the better. It's going to take a lot of hard work and determination - by you - and people like you to arrive at this destination. But I have faith that your generation will make invaluable contributions to help make it all possible."