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April 12th, 2010
01:45 PM ET

Can Obama make progress on global nuclear security?

Obama's summit represents a 'small step toward slowing the decline of international cooperation on nuclear issues', says Calabresi.

Massimo Calabresi
TIME

Ask an Obama Administration official why the President is bringing nearly 50 heads of state all the way to Washington just so they can collectively declare that loose nukes are bad, and you'll get a version of this: America can only be safe if international cooperation is strong.

That may be true, and hawks and doves in Washington agree there's little downside to the summit itself. But even the most idealistic internationalists know that the number of nuclear-armed states is likely to grow rather than shrink in coming years, weakening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and increasing the production of dangerous materials around the globe. So, a more accurate definition of the summit's purpose may be that it is, at best, a small step toward slowing the decline of international cooperation on nuclear issues.

The gathering will produce more paper than progress, Administration officials concede. There will be the nonbinding communiqué, wherein the leaders will declare the dangers of nuclear proliferation. They will pledge to take new national and international measures to secure nuclear materials within four years. The summit will produce a "work plan" of steps that individual states will take to secure their nuclear materials; that too will be nonbinding. And individual countries will announce their own measures, to the extent that they want to do more.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Don

    I believe President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace for that very reason. A preemptive strike for a world of less conflict. A hope that
    President Obama will carry a torch of peace rather than a sword
    of battle.
    But at the same time. I think the world will move cautiously with us.
    Our policies can easily change in four to eight years. And the ease
    at which we moved our military across foreign borders just adds to
    those concerns. Especially those countries who are not on our A-list
    and less confident with their defense abilities.

    April 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  2. john Laforme

    All of these nukes should be destroyed because if one country set one off who ever else has them will do the same. It's not protection it's more
    likely the means to end all life on earth

    April 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  3. Smith360

    The Democratic led administration of President Obama has already made great progress on policing up ton's of highly enriched Uranium from many country's and safely storing that in America or in Russia's secure storage facility's. Keep up the outstanding work in this area President Obama, it is very refreshing to see such rapid progress that is going on.

    April 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Paul Jacobson

    Most people would be surprised to learn that 10% of our electricity comes from old Russian warheads. For once, that's a good news story coming out of non-proliferation efforts.

    April 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm |