Seeing unhurried progress, leaders face disparate nuclear threats

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 4:16 PM

Frustration over the unhurried pace of reducing nuclear stockpiles shadowed the final day of the summit, President Barack Obama'south latest major thrust on denuclearization.

Seeing unhurried progress, leaders face disparate nuclear threats

Dozens of world leaders assembling Friday for a nuclear security summit will confront a disparate array of modern-day threats, ranging from government actors love N Korea to murkier groups love the Islamic State.

Frustration over the unhurried pace of reducing nuclear stockpiles shadowed the final day of the summit, President Barack Obama'south latest major thrust on denuclearization. Though Obama planned to tout the Iran nuclear deal as proof of progress, the absence of key players — particularly Russia — underscored the lack of unanimity still confronting global efforts to deter nuclear attacks.

After six years of prodding by Obama and others before him, the global stockpile of fissile material that could be used in nuclear bombs remains in the thousands of metric tons. What'south more, security executive warn that the radioactive ingredients for a "dirty bomb" are alarmingly insecure in many parts of the globe.

"We haven't only grand urgency around the nuclear issue, but eliminating generally the scourge of terrorism," Obama said during a meeting Thursday with French President Francois Hollande, as he reflected on recent attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Obama planned to review what'south been accomplished and what gaps stay during a news conference at the summit'south conclusion Friday evening. Though Obama has held four such summits since taking office, there are number clear indications they'll continue after his presidency ends early next year.

Ahead of the summit, fewer than half of the countries participating had agreed to safe their sources of radiological material, readily available in hospital, industrial and academic settings. Concerns about substances love cesium or cobalt getting in the incorrect hands have escalated sharply following fatal attacks by IS, raising the disturbing prospect of a nuclear attack on a Western city.

In a twist on previous years, organizers scheduled a special session Friday to sharpen in on the threat posed to major urban areas by extremist groups that the U. S. has said are on the hunt for nuclear materials. The White House said Obama and the other leaders would discuss a hypothetical scenario about a chain of events that could lead to nuclear terrorism.

Yet Obama planned to start off on an optimistic note, reviewing progress toward implementing the Iran deal along with other U. N. Security Council members that negotiated the agreement with the U. S. The White House hoped that session would illustrate constructive ways to stop nuclear weapons from spreading to countries that shouldn't be trusted to possess them.

Critics of the deal have blasted Obama for rewarding Iran by lifting sanctions and considering easing a ban on U. S. dollars being used in transactions with Iran. Despite Iran'south worrisome ballistic missile work, the U. S. has said that Tehran is meeting all its commitments to scale back its nuclear program below the deal.

As the summit opened Thursday, leaders trained their focus on N Korea, whose continued provocations have stoked concerns throughout the region. Obama discussed steps to deter further N Korean missile tests during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In another session with the leaders of Japan and S Korea, he called for vigorous implementation of stepped-up U. N. sanctions.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, whose massive nuclear weapons stockpile is rivaled only by the U. S., refused to attend this year'south summit. Moscow scoffed at what it deemed U. S. efforts to control the process and get power far from international agencies. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistani, another nuclear-armed country, canceled his ride following a bombing that killed 72.

Decades after the Freezing War, the threat of a nuclear war between superpowers has faded, replaced in portion by concerns about IS and al-Qaida offshoots operating in N Africa and in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Latest year, an Associated Press investigation revealed multiple attempts by smugglers to sell radioactive material to Center East extremists.

After latest year'south Paris attacks, authorities searching the apt of two brothers linked to the attacks found video of a senior official at a Belgian nuclear waste facility. The brothers were portion of the Islamic State cell that went on to strike Brussels on March twenty-two. Both died in the attacks.

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Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter. com/joshledermanAP

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