THE HAGUE, Netherlands — President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that a security summit took “concrete steps” to prevent nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists even though Russia and China failed to sign an agreement to beef up inspections.
One of the key results emerging from the two-day summit in The Hague was that 35 countries pledged to turn international guidelines on nuclear security into national laws and open up their procedures for protecting nuclear installations to independent scrutiny. The summit also featured new reduction commitments, with Japan, Italy and Belgium agreeing to cut their stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
“This was not about vague commitments, it was about taking tangible and concrete steps to secure more of the world’s nuclear material so it never falls into the hands of terrorists and that’s what we’ve done,” Obama said.
The U.S. president initiated a string of summits in 2010 aimed at preventing terrorists getting their hands on weapons-grade nuclear material.
He hailed the progress made so far as a “fundamental shift in our approach to nuclear security.” Since 2010, the number of countries that have enough material to build a nuclear weapon has fallen from 39 to 25.
“I’ll close by reminding everyone that one of the achievements of my first summit in 2010 was Ukraine’s decision to remove all of its highly enriched uranium from its nuclear fuel sites,” Obama said. “Had that not happened, those dangerous nuclear materials would still be there now. And the difficult situation we’re dealing with in Ukraine today would involve yet another level of concern.”
Despite the progress made so far, analysts said Tuesday’s key agreement on turning guidelines into law needs more support. Notably absent from the agreement were Russia, China, India and Pakistan. North Korea and Iran were not even invited to the Nuclear Security Summit.