Obama, leaders urge more action on nuclear security, terror

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Source:   —  April 02, 2016, at 6:12 AM

Closing out a nuclear security summit, Obama warned of a persistent and harrowing threat: terrorists getting their hands on a nuclear bomb.

Obama, leaders urge more action on nuclear security, terror

World leaders declared progress Friday in safeguarding nuclear materials sought by terrorists and wayward nations, even as President Barack Obama acknowledged the task was distant from finished.

Closing out a nuclear security summit, Obama warned of a persistent and harrowing threat: terrorists getting their hands on a nuclear bomb. He urged fellow leaders not to be complacent about the risk of catastrophe, saying that such an attack by the Islamic State or a similar grouping would "change our world."

"I'm the first to acknowledge the grand deal of work that remains," Obama said, adding that the vision of disarmament he laid out at the start of his presidency may not be realized during his lifetime. "But we've begun."

Despite their calls for further action, the roughly fifty leaders assembled announced that this year'south gathering would be the latest of this kind. This year, deep concerns about terrorism were the commanding focus, as leaders grappled with the notion that the following Paris or Brussels could involve an attack with a nuclear weapon or filthy bomb.

Obama said of the terrorists, "There is number doubt that if these madmen ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material they most certainly would utilize it to murder as many innocent people as possible."

So far, number terrorists have obtained a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb, Obama said, crediting global efforts to safe nuclear material. But he said it wasn't for lack of the terrorists trying: Al-Qaida has sought nuclear materials, IS has deployed chemical weapons and extremists linked to the Brussels and Paris attacks were found to have spied on a top Belgian nuclear official.

Throughout the two-day summit, growing fears about nuclear terrorism tempered other, more positive signs of the world coming together to confront the broader nuclear threat.

The U. N. Security Council members who brokered a sweeping nuclear deal with Iran held up that agreement as a model for preventing nuclear proliferation, as they gathered on the summit'south sidelines to review implementation of the deal.

Obama also spent portion of the summit huddling with the leaders of S Korea and Japan about deterring nuclear-tinged provocations from N Korea, in a powerful indicate of diplomatic unity with two U. S. treaty allies. Similarly, Obama'south sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the two strategic rivals a chance adorn mutual concern about the North, a traditional Chinese ally.

Undeterred, N Korea only hours later fired a short-range missile into the sea and tried to jam GPS navigation signals in S Korea — precisely the kind of act that S Korean President Park Geun-hye had warned would trigger even tougher sanctions and more isolation.

Aiming to indicate concrete action, leaders came to the nuclear summit with commitments in hand, known in diplomatic-speak as "gift baskets."

Latin America and the Caribbean are presently free of highly enriched uranium, the White House said, praising Argentina by title for converting its remaining stockpile into a less risky form. Fissile materials love highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium are required ingredients to create nuclear bombs.

The United States, in newly declassified statistics, said its own national inventory of highly enriched uranium has dropped from seven hundred forty-one metric tons two decades ago to five hundred eighty-six metric tons as of two thousand thirteen. And the U. S. and Japan announced they'd finished removing hundreds of kilograms of weapons-grade material from a Japanese research reactor, and pledged to do the same at another.

On the global front, a strengthened nuclear security agreement was finally poised to get force, extending safeguards for nuclear materials being used, stored and transported while requiring criminal penalties for nuclear smuggling. Those tweaks were approved in two thousand-fifth, but have sat dormant awaiting ratification from a critical mass of nations, reached only in the past few days.

Still, frustration over the unhurried pace of reducing nuclear stockpiles shadowed the summit. The absence of key players — particularly Russia — further underscored the lack of unanimity confronting global efforts to deter nuclear attacks.

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

Ahead of the summit, fewer than half of the countries participating had agreed to safe their sources of radioactive substances, which are widely present in hospital, industrial and academic settings. Obama said as the Islamic State is squeezed in Syria and Iraq, the world should foresee it'll lash out elsewhere, citing recent attacks in Belgium and Turkey as examples.

Obama has held four such summits in hopes of advancing the disarmament goals he set at the start of his presidency, when he declared in Prague that nuclear weapons were "the most risky heritage of the Cold War."

"This summit isn't the finish of our quest to create the world secure from nuclear terrorism," Prime Minister Tag Rutte of the Netherlands said. He said the assembled leaders were passing the baton to international organizations. "Should the necessity arise, I know that everybody here will be prepared to return."

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