WASHINGTON – The Nuclear Security Summit has unleashed a flurry of activity in downtown Washington this week. From the hundreds of red-clad Chinese citizens welcoming their president, Xi Jinping, in the streets around his hotel to the anti-nuclear protest featuring a life-size inflatable missile and motorcades rolling all over town, it has been an active day.
Though the summit activities started Thursday with a working dinner in the White House East Room and several meeting with heads of state, the first session of the summit didn’t take place until Friday morning. By then, President Barack Obama had already discussed the Iran nuclear deal, released a joint statement with China on nuclear collaboration and announced that both countries would sign the Paris Climate Accord, among other things.
From the get-go, experts were ambiguous about what results the summit could deliver. Given that the U.S. and Russia hold more than 90 percent of the world’s highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium, the absence of the Russian delegation was expected to limit any actions the summit could take.
However, in a press briefing Thursday at the summit, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes pointed out the achievements that have been made since Obama announced the first summit in 2009. This includes many countries such as Argentina and Austria reducing their nuclear stockpiles to zero.
“To date, our nations have made some 260 specific commitments to improve nuclear security – and so far, three-quarters of these steps have been implemented,” Obama said at the opening session.
Obama met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Thursday to discuss nuclear cooperation, and in particular, the situation in North Korea. The South Korean military announced Friday morning that Pyongyang had fired another missile into the sea. This comes after several North Korean nuclear tests in the last couple of months.
This does not come as a surprise. In a briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Wednesday, Korea Chair Victor Cha said he would expect North Korea to launch another missile to draw attention during the summit.
After Obama wrapped up the closing session on Friday, he discussed the growing risk of terrorist organizations gaining access to nuclear materials and highlighted how greater international collaboration is key. An increasing problem has been the disconnect, and sometimes overlap, between nuclear and security agencies across the world.
“We need to do even more to prevent the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. After the Paris attacks, the United States deployed surge teams to Europe to bolster these efforts, and we’ll be deploying additional teams in the near future. We all have a role to play.”
Reach reporter Karina Meier at [email protected] or 202-408-1491. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
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