VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins interviewed Thomas Countryman, assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on Friday.
Here is a portion of the interview discussing Nuclear Summit outcomes:
Question: What’s next considering that President Barack Obama is hosting his fourth and final Nuclear Summit?
Thomas Countryman: Obama’s decision to make this a priority has paid off … inviting 50 leaders together to discuss a single topic added urgency … specific/concrete improvements … what’s next is to hand off the momentum to organizations like IAEA.
Q: What must happen to secure loose nuclear material in world?
Countryman: There is very little nuclear material that can be described as loose. ... Each country that has nuclear weapons or fuel (highly enriched uranium/plutonium) … has made extensive improvements to nuclear security; it can be stronger. … We are sharing best practices and ideas on storage.
Here is a portion of the interview discussing nuclear vulnerabilities:
Q: When it comes to nuclear smuggling and facilities’ safety … what countries are most vulnerable?
Countryman: Will not give a list … but any country where there are nuclear weapons, significant amounts of enriched uranium or plutonium and where terrorism is active. …
Here is a portion of the interview regarding North Korea:
Q: Is there U.S. concern about the transfers of nuclear technology or materials by North Korea?
Countryman: Concern about their possession of nuclear weapons and strong rhetoric from North Korea … history of illegal behavior and number of behaviors … that they may seek to proliferate it and share the technology.
Q: How has that impacted that summit, considering their provocation today. … There has been increased rhetoric against South Korea and the U.S. today … report to attack in Brussels that two of the attackers were looking for a nuclear site. …
Countryman: The agenda is clear to everyone attending the summit… threats from North Korea, terrorist activity on the minds of world’s leader, but won’t change outcome of the summit.