President Barack Obama and the United States hosted the final Nuclear Security Summit from March 31 to April 1, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Leaders from 50 nations gathered in the nation’s capital to hear about the achievements since the first Nuclear Security Summit, and learn about what challenges still face the world.
Obama and his team hosted a monumental event in the nation’s capital. The city of Washington, D.C. had difficulty handling the massive gathering. Several bus routes and metro lines had to be rerouted because of the conference.
This was the final of the four summits. Starting in 2010, these meetings have been previously held in South Korea and the Netherlands. The first meeting was held in Washington, D.C. Since its inception, countries around the world have participated in quelling the threat of nuclear terrorism, and created a platform to discuss the non-proliferation.
President Obama, in his closing address, stated that enriched uranium and plutonium have been removed from 50 factories in 30 countries. He stated that the radioactive isotopes necessary to create a nuclear bomb, “will never fall into the hands of terrorists.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the summit. Regardless of Putin’s absence, Obama noted that U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons were at their lowest levels in 60 years.
The leaders present at the Nuclear Security Summit looked back on the achievements since they started in 2010. They have created action plans for the United Nations, as well as Interpol. USA Today reported, since the last summit in 2014, around 990 pounds of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) has been disposed of in 10 countries. Latin American and the Caribbean are HEU-free, as well as Switzerland and Uzbekistan.
Iran has been enriching uranian for some time. The nation has been an active supporter of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. Their enrichment program has been subject to much skepticism. How will Iran behave as a member nuclear community?
During the Summit, Obama stood by the Iranian nuclear deal. In a speech he said, “After nearly two years of intensive negotiations and strong sanctions, the countries represented in this room achieved what decades of animosity and rhetoric did not: a long-term deal that closes off every possible path for Iran to build a nuclear weapon and subjects Iran to the most comprehensive nuclear inspections ever negotiated.”
Obama said that so far, Iran was cooperating with the deal. While they comply, their actions as a nation may hurt business potential. Obama said, “When [Iran] launch ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous, [and] if Iran continues to ship missiles to Hezbollah, that get businesses nervous.” He did reiterate that Iran has “followed the letter of the agreement.”
For the first time in a decade, Obama released U.S. inventory of HEU. The reports showed that the U.S. had 741 metric tons of HEU in 1996 and in the most recent survey done in 2013, the U.S. had 586 metric tons. Around the world, the disposal of HEU was enough “to create 150 nuclear weapons.”
Further progress has been made in Europe and South East Asia. International Business Times reports that all enriched uranium in Indonesian has been eliminated and Germany has reduced HEU by a large amount.
Leaders of the U.S. and China had the chance to talk about some pressing concerns. While the two leaders are at odds on many issues, the two came together for nuclear security. According to the New York Times, the two discussed the nuclear threat of North Korea and potential sanctions against the Pyongyang government.
Obama was asked what he thought about Donald Trump’s recent remarks claiming Japan and South Korea need nuclear weapons because of North Korea’s aggressive behavior. The President commented, “The person who made the statements doesn’t know much about foreign policy… or the world generally.”
The leaders of 50 nations understood the threats of the future and look back on the achievements made since the Nuclear Security Summit was started in 2010. All over the world HEU stockpile and nuclear material are being more tightly monitored. Action plans have been created to ensure the safety of the world.
By Harrison Baker
Edited by Cathy Milne
International Business Times: Obama Nuclear Security Summit Live Stream: Watch US President Deliver End-Of-Meeting Press Conference
New York Times: As Obama Hosts Nuclear Security Summit, the Focus Is on China
The White House Briefing Room: Nuclear Security Summit 2016 Action Plan in Support of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction
USA Today: Obama touts removal of highly enriched uranium
Image Courtesy of Garry Knight’s Flickr Page – Public Domain License
Second Image Courtesy of Shawn Bagley’s Flickr Page – Public Domain License