Tuesday was the second day of the 47-Nation Nuclear Summit in Washington, D.C. President Obama called this summit in an effort to get cooperation amongst nations in order to increase security of nuclear weapons and the components necessary to build them. The threat of terrorists potentially gaining access to some of these things has become more imminent, and thus the president has called for action.
Reinforcing this predicament, President Obama stated in his speech on this day, as posted at the Council on Foreign Relations, that although the threat of nuclear war between nations has gone down, the threat of nuclear attack has gone up. This, he says, comes with dozens of countries having nuclear materials that could be sold to or stolen by terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda, and with numerous already-intercepted attempts by these networks to acquire such things. The goal of this summit is to get all nations to agree to taking concrete action to secure all nuclear weapons and components within four years.
This in mind, Tuesday has brought some substantial progress in gaining commitments from several countries. CNN reports that Russia and the U.S. have agreed to dispose of “at least 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium,” also stating that this agreement prevents any military use of the plutonium. Russia also confirmed plans for closing a plutonium production reactor in Siberia. This is seen as an important step.
Other countries announcing tangible goals and/or signing agreements towards tangible goals included Ukraine, Canada, and Mexico. South Korea has agreed to host the next summit in two years.
Still, there are those who say this is rather redundant, only rehashing the things that are long past due. The New York Times notes that the original agreement with Russia was signed 10 years ago with President Bill Clinton and has basically sat dormant since then. It also states that the closing of a Russian plutonium reactor has just taken place in the past week, though this is as yet unclear.
The realm of things to come is still a bit uncertain. China wishes to remain a bit too noncommittal to suit the U.S., Iran is still largely a concern, and other countries have still shown some resistance to being governed. However, there is still an air of necessity surrounding these issues.
It seems, once again, that the general consensus overall is that terrorism needs to be addressed globally, and that the time has come to do something… before it’s too late for something to be done. Therefore, it seems that it will. Still, there will likely be little that could meet a four-year deadline to accomplish in its entirety. It is a proactive step, and still better than being reactive.