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Obama calls for greater action at Nuclear Security Summit

While acknowledging the steps which have been successfully achieved thus far in the reclamation of enriched nuclear material across the globe, on Tuesday at the close of the third Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague in the Netherlands U.S. President Barack Obama stated that more needs to be done “to fully secure all nuclear and radiological material” for greater global safety.

U.S. President Barack Obama discusses the situation in Ukraine with other G-7 leaders in The Hague, the Netherlands on March 24, 2014.
Official White House Photo/Pete Souza

According to President Obama, as a result of past summits since 2009, “12 countries and two dozen nuclear facilities around the world have rid themselves entirely of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium. Dozens of nations have boosted security at their nuclear storage sites; built their own counter-smuggling teams; or created new centers to improve nuclear security and training. The IAEA is stronger. More countries have ratified the treaties and international partnerships at the heart of our efforts.”

He further commented on the progress announced at this year’s meeting by Belgium and Italy in their reductions in highly enriched uranium and plutonium and Japan’s agreement to reduce the amount of highly enriched uranium and plutonium in its possession.

However, the President noted two items of importance needing to be accomplished moving forward towards the next summit to be held in Chicago in 2016: the setting of accelerated yet politically viable goals and the “soliciting” of ideas from all parties in order to find ways to better coordinate the goals of the Nuclear Security Summit with agencies involved such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Interpol and the United Nations.

President Obama arrived in the Netherlands on Monday. According to the White House prior to attending the summit President Obama met with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte to discuss a range of issues including climate change, global security and the Transatlantic Investment Partnership. In addition, he met with G-7 leaders to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The G-7 on Monday released a declaration supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and condemning the Russian Federation’s actions in Crimea.

In the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit on Monday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his address called for all nations from across the globe to work together towards a world free from nuclear weapons, stating that keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and other groups is the “primary responsibility” of national governments.

Security-General Ban called for a three-tiered approach to UN involvement in nuclear disarmament:

  • “Strengthening the international framework for nuclear security,”
  • “Strengthening the capacity of States to detect and stop illicit trade in nuclear and radiological material.”
  • “Persistent efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear-weapons.”

Ban further remarked, “Nuclear security is jeopardized by the very existence of such weapons and the vast amounts of weapons-usable nuclear material in stockpiles outside of any international regulatory controls."

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