Obama heralds nuke talk 

President Obama used the final hours of his Nuclear Security Summit to drum up international support for sanctions against Iran, saying "words have to mean something."

"There have to be some consequences," Obama said at a news conference concluding the two-day event.

The White House was touting the summit as a major success, but like most gatherings of dozens of world leaders, the event produced more general consensus than specific action -- beyond an agreement to meet again in 2012.

"We have seized the opportunity," Obama said. "The American people will be safer and the world more secure."

The leaders produced a final communique affirming that nuclear material should be kept from terrorists, that they should work together to safeguard such material, and that the United Nations has a central role to play in overseeing nuclear weapons safety, among other points.

 

Summit a dud in foreign press

President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit brought together leaders of 46 other countries for an unprecedented international conference on fissile material.

It's a major story for the White House -- but how is it playing outside the United States?

Belgium's Euroactiv news played down the summit, duly noting on its Web site that European leaders share Obama's goal for safeguarding nuclear materials.

The story ranked below a report on a socialists-and-bankers dispute, and another observing that European Parliament members have yet to embrace Twitter.

Canadian television was of the view that Canada was playing a major role at the summit, leading other nations by agreeing to send the U.S. all of its weapons-grade uranium for safekeeping.

"Canada setting example on nuclear safety with U.S.," the Canadian Television story was headlined.

The Sydney Morning Herald worried over Pakistan. Finland's Helsinki Sanomat didn't have a story on the summit, nor did the Norway Post, although both countries sent officials to Washington.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, facing a tough re-election climate back home, opted not to attend the summit. The Daily Telegraph carried a story questioning China's commitment to sanctions against Iran -- an issue the White House was touting as a summit achievement.

Goodluck Jonathan, the eloquently named acting president of Nigeria, attended the summit and also took time out in Washington to address the Council on Foreign Relations.

NPR produced a lengthy story about the Nigerian leader for "Morning Edition," but the Nigerian Tribune's report on Jonathan's trip focused on his remarks on domestic issues, not nukes.

 

In addition, they agreed on a goal to secure much of the world's loose nuclear materials within four years, although they did not say how they will do it.

 

"Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it," Obama said.

The president frequently cited the historic nature of the gathering, and said the work of the leaders was making the world safer.

Among other things, the summit appeared aimed at burnishing Obama's image as an effective world leader -- a key achievement for the head of the Democratic Party in an election year. The summit, part of a larger Obama program aimed at addressing nuclear weapons policy, also served his ambition for leaving a mark on world history.

One specific key for Obama, however, was securing assurances from China to join other members of the U.N. Security Council in exploring a round of sanctions against Iran. He also touted the cooperation of Russia, but Russian leaders have sounded balky at further sanctions on their Iranian ally.

"I want to see us move forward boldly and quickly to send the kind of message that will allow Iran to make a different calculation" on its nuclear program, Obama said.

Iran and North Korea, considered nuclear outlaws for flouting U.N. sanctions against nuclear weapons development and testing, were excluded from the summit -- but they were there in spirit as prevailing topics of concern.

The overarching theme of the summit was an acknowledgment that the danger from nuclear weapons has shifted dramatically since the Cold War, while weapons policy has remained largely unchanged.

"Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history -- the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up," Obama said. "We [must] summon the will, as nations, as partners, to do what this moment in history demands."

The summit was held largely without press access and under tight security, with details distributed through official statements and readouts by administration officials.

As part of the international effort, Canada agreed to send its highly enriched uranium to the United States for processing. Mexico is giving up material from a research reactor, and Ukraine agreed to dispose of its own uranium stockpile.

In addition, the U.S. and Russia finalized an agreement to dispose of plutonium extracted from Cold War-era missiles and convert it into peaceful energy projects.

jmason@washingtonexaminer.com

 

 

Follow the Washington Examiner

 

About The Author

Julie Mason

Pin It
Favorite

More by Julie Mason

Latest in Nation

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018

Videos

Most Popular Stories

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation