As the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. drew to a close,
President Obama and 46 other heads of state signed a non-binding
agreement to limit their nuclear stockpiles and ramp up security on
remaining nuclear material. The pact, which came after two long days of
public and private meetings between Obama and foreign leaders, is
one of many agreements on nuclear security to emerge from the
conference. Are these meaningful steps toward reducing the global nuclear threat, or misguided stabs at an all-too-ambitious goal? Here's what he
achieved--and what he didn't.
- Bringing Nuclear Security to
Forefront The Washington Post's Mary Beth Sheridan writes,
"The governments attending Obama's Nuclear Security Summit agreed to
take their own measures to safeguard nuclear material used in bombs,
civilian nuclear reactors and power plants, and to strengthen
international efforts. The gathering raised the profile of an issue long
considered a sideshow in discussions of international security." She
cautions, "the commitments are voluntary, and experts said reaching the
goal will be difficult."
- Cleaning Up Loose Nukes The New
York Times' David Sanger contextualizes the event, saying
"This was a far broader effort to persuade African, Latin American,
Asian and European nations to agree on steps to deny terrorist groups
the two materials necessary to make a bomb: plutonium and highly
enriched uranium." He adds, "The summit meeting forced countries that
had failed to clean up their nuclear surpluses to formulate detailed
plans to deal with them, and it kicked into action nations that had
failed to move on previous commitments."
- Reducing the Terror
Threat Newsweek's John Barry channels Obama's
view that "the risk of terrorists acquiring a nuclear weapon is now the
greatest threat facing the United States." Barry calls it "a new threat
that the international community simply isn't organized to confront."
But, he writes, Obama has taken steps towards acknowledging and
reducing that threat worldwide.
- Failure on Iran Time's Tony Karon sighs, "The goals of
President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit are so modest and
uncontroversial that the event can't be anything but a success." On
securing Russian and Chinese support for sanctions on Iran, "It has
become a familiar pattern to hear Administration officials claim Russian
and Chinese support for sanctions, only for the extent of that support
to quickly pale in the cold light of day. ... The chances of such
discussion resulting in a meaningful escalation of U.N. Security Council
sanctions against Iran remain slim."
- ...Not Total Failure!
Time's Joe Klein dissents from his colleague, writing "These
slow steps toward cooperation--after eight years of American
neo-cowboyism--are how diplomacy begins. If it works and an atmosphere
of mutual trust is created, larger steps become possible. For the
moment, however, the President's nuclear summit seems a good week's job
- End the Nuclear Era The Daily Beast's Joseph Cirincione looks at
the big picture. "There are times when you can feel the hinge of
history moving. This is one of them," he writes. " We may be witnessing
the creation of a new global nuclear-security agenda. The process, and
the momentum it creates, may move us from the Dr. Strangelove
world of massive, mutual annihilation to the Dr. Einstein world where
nuclear weapons have finally changed everything—including our way of
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