News / USA

Obama Opens 47-Nation Nuclear Security Summit

Multimedia

President Barack Obama says the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit he is hosting here in Washington will produce specific, concrete actions to make the world safer.  The president says he wants new commitments to secure nuclear materials to keep them out of the hands of terrorists. With concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea a major backdrop to the conference, this is the biggest U.S.-sponsored gathering of world leaders in more than 60 years.

With this summit and efforts to follow, President Obama faces a test of his ability to further a nuclear agenda focused on nonproliferation and countering potential nuclear terrorism, with support from like-minded nations.

All of the world's major nuclear powers are here - Russia, China, Britain and France - along with South Asian nuclear rivals India and Pakistan.  Israel, which is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, but has never confirmed their existence, is also represented.

North Korea, which is believed to have tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, was not invited nor was Iran, which is still engaged in a standoff with the international community over its uranium enrichment program that Tehran maintains is for peaceful purposes and not for nuclear weapons.  Syria was also not invited.

Iran dismissed the outcome of the Washington conference in advance as it faces the possibility of a fourth round of sanctions under a U.N. Security Council resolution that President Obama says he hopes can be finalized in coming weeks with support from Russia and China.

President Obama greeted each delegation on Monday at the summit site, before the leaders went into a working dinner.

John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, called the threat of nuclear terrorism real and growing.  Although there is no indication that al-Qaida has a nuclear weapon, he said every step must be taken to ensure that it does not acquire one.

"I am determined to ensure that they are not going to be able to obtain that type of capability," said John Brennan. "And the best way to do it as we continue to degrade and destroy al-Qaida is to take away the opportunities they may have to acquire the fissile material, highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium, or the expertise that is required to use that fissile material to create an improvised nuclear explosive device."

Saying some countries need to do a better job of "locking down" nuclear materials, Brennan added that a key goal is to ensure that nations understand their responsibilities.  

In bilateral meetings with countries such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine, President Obama appears to have achieved the support he wants for the final communiqué to be issued on Tuesday, committing nations to securing nuclear materials over a four year period.

To that end, the White House announced an agreement in which Ukraine committed to eliminating its stockpile of highly enriched uranium by the time of the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2012, with a substantial amount to be removed by the end of this year.

Saying this was something the United States had sought for more than a decade, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the commitments President Obama wants to see from the summit.

"There are a host of roles that the countries represented here can play," said Robert Gibbs. "Again, some have that highly enriched uranium that we are seeking to secure, others can play an effort in how to secure that.  Others can play an effort in the interdiction of these types of materials in the event that they leave where they are."

President Obama's 90-minute meeting with China's President Hu Jintao produced what U.S. officials describe as an agreement that Iran must meet its international nuclear nonproliferation obligations.  White House national security aide Jeff Bader said President Hu shared U.S. concerns about Iran's nuclear program and the overall goal of preserving the nonproliferation regime, adding that the two presidents agreed to instruct U.N. delegations to work with the P5 + 1 on a new Security Council sanctions resolution.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told reporters after the meeting that China hopes the Iran issue can be resolved through dialogue and negotiations.

On concerns about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, a White House statement after the president's Sunday meeting with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said the Pakistani leader gave an assurance that his country "takes nuclear security seriously and has appropriate safeguards in place."

Vice President Joe Biden hosted leaders and officials from 11 Non-Aligned Movement nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, telling them that "adding more nuclear weapons or more nuclear-weapon states is the exact wrong approach at this moment in the world's history."  

President Obama has two additional bilateral meetings scheduled on Tuesday - one with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the other with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey.

As for the location of the next Nuclear Security Summit, White House spokesman Gibbs says there will be an announcement on that on Tuesday at the conclusion of the Washington conference.   

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs