President Barack Obama marked the close of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit here saying that the 49-nation gathering had made “unprecedented progress in confronting one of the greatest threats to our global security,” namely nuclear terrorism.
He said that world leaders had focused on taking “tangible steps” and making “concrete commitments” to secure nuclear materials so that they could never fall into the hands of terrorists “who would surely use them”.
Citing numerous examples of such steps taken and commitments made, Mr. Obama mentioned Canada’s decision to give up a significant quantity of Highly Enriched Uranium, Chile’s move to give up its entire stockpile and Ukraine’s and Mexico’s announcements to do the same.
In the context of the Megaports Initiative for detecting radioactive materials in containerised cargo, Mr. Obama said that Argentina and Pakistan had announced new steps to strengthen port security and prevent nuclear smuggling.
The President also detailed the commitments of nations such as Argentina, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to join and strengthen the treaties and international partnerships “that are at the core of our global efforts”. He added that Italy, Japan, India and China would be creating new centres “to promote nuclear security technologies and training”.
Describing a “major development” in the course of the summit, Mr. Obama said that Russia’s announcement regarding the closure of its last weapons-grade plutonium production reactor would strengthen U.S.-Russia efforts to eliminate such plutonium from the world.
He said that this move would result in the elimination of 68 tonnes of plutonium for the two countries’ weapons programmes, which was “plutonium that would have been enough for about 17,000 nuclear weapons”.
Mr. Obama also said that the U.S. had also taken concrete steps to secure its nuclear materials further, and was joining Canada in “calling on nations to commit $10 billion to extending our highly successful Global Partnership” to strengthen nuclear security.
In bringing the summit to a close Mr. Obama outlined four key areas of agreement between the attending countries.
First, he said that there was agreement on the urgency and seriousness of the threat of nuclear terrorism. He said, “Coming into this summit, there were a range of views on this danger… Today, we are declaring that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security.” He added that countries had agreed that the most effective way to prevent terrorists and criminals from acquiring nuclear materials was through strong nuclear security and preventing nuclear smuggling.
Second, Mr. Obama reiterated his satisfaction with the 49 countries’ endorsement of the goal to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years — a goal that he had outlined in Prague a year ago. Even if this was an ambitious goal, “This is a goal that can be achieved,” he said.
Third, the summit attendees reaffirmed that it was their fundamental responsibility to “maintain effective security of the nuclear materials and facilities under [their] control [including] strengthening national laws and policies, and fully implementing the commitments we have agreed to”.
Finally, Mr. Obama explained, the nuclear terrorism threat “cannot be addressed by countries working in isolation”. To this end they had committed to a sustained, effective program of international cooperation on nuclear security, which included the plan for South Korea to host the next nuclear security summit two years on.
In concluding President Obama said that events such as the present summit ought to be considered as part of a larger, comprehensive agenda that he outlined in Prague based on the vision of peace and security in a “world without nuclear weapons”. In this context the new START treaty signed recently by Russia and the U.S. set the stage for “further cuts and cooperation between our countries”. Mr. Obama also underscored the new Nuclear Posture Review, which he argued would reduce “the role and number of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy”.
Looking to the future he indicated that the focus next month in New York would be on the NPT review a “cornerstone of our global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons even as we pursue greater civil nuclear cooperation.” All of these efforts are connected, he said, arguing that “When the United States fulfils our responsibilities as a nuclear power committed to the NPT, we strengthen our global efforts to ensure that other nations fulfil their responsibilities”.