President Obama is just one of nearly fifty heads of state gathering in
Washington, D.C. this week for the nuclear security summit. The
comprehensive multilateral talks--the largest U.S.-hosted gathering of
world leaders since the 1945 founding of the United Nations in San
Francisco--will address the role of nuclear weapons in the world.
Following his nuclear posture review
which sets the America agenda on nukes, and the Strategic Arms
(START) with Russia, Obama is ramping up efforts to reduce the threat of such weapons. Here's what he'll be looking to accomplish in pursuit of
- Keep Nukes 'Out of Terrorist Hands' The
Associated Press' Steven Hurst and Anne
Gearan emphasize Obama's "plan to keep nuclear weapons out of
terrorist hands. Confronting what he calls the 'single biggest threat to
U.S. security,' Obama is looking for global help in his goal of
ensuring all nuclear materials worldwide are secured from theft or
diversion within four years."
- ...That's His Direst Challenge
The New York Times bemoans a
long-term lack of action on the terrorism front. "Far too little has
been done since to head that off," they write. "The vulnerabilities run
from thousands of poorly secured short-range nuclear weapons in Russia
to poorly guarded nuclear reactors or fuel storage sites in far too many
states. There are no mandatory, international security standards for
nuclear facilities or for hospitals whose radioactive waste could be
used in dirty bombs."
- ...But He Left A Gaping Loophole
The Washington Times' Eli Lake writes, "But the meeting
will not address a long-stalled treaty to control fissile material, the
key ingredient for nuclear weapons. ... The Fissile Material Cutoff
Treaty (FMCT) is a proposed international agreement that would require
adherents to forgo any future enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade
levels. Despite its focus on securing "vulnerable nuclear material," the
summit will not focus on limiting the production of fissile material."
India Come Around? The Hindu Times' R. Rajaraman says Indian
officials must "rise to the occasion and behave as an active partner in
international efforts to reduce nuclear dangers. It must adopt a
statesmanlike posture, as befits a responsible nuclear power, confident
of taking initiatives in this regard." India is the largest of the three
nuclear states that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation
treaty. (They are joined by Israel and Pakistan.)
- Address the
Pakistan Threat The New York Times' David
Sanger reports, "While Pakistan struggles to make sure its weapons
and nuclear labs are not vulnerable to attack by Al Qaeda, the country
is getting ready to greatly expand its production of weapons-grade fuel.
The Pakistanis insist that they have no choice" in the wake of India's
build-up. Sanger sighs, "The problem that India and Pakistan represent,
though, is deliberately not on the agenda."
- Denuclearize North
Korea The Washington Post urges Obama
to exploit the "unprecedented instability" within the regime. They
insist on Obama's "recognition that in the long run only a change in the
nature of North Korea's government is likely to solve this problem."
He Won't Achieve Any Of This Time's Massimo
Calabresi brings the pessimism. "But even the most idealistic
internationalists know that the number of nuclear-armed states is likely
to grow rather than shrink in coming years, weakening the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and increasing the production of dangerous
materials around the globe. So, a more accurate definition of the
summit's purpose may be that it is, at best, a small step toward slowing
the decline of international cooperation on nuclear issues. The
gathering will produce more paper than progress."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.