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President Barack Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, during the Nuclear Security Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


For the past eight years or so, the Nuclear Threat Initiative has commissioned a series of reports called "Securing The Bomb". The lead author of these reports is Harvard professor Matthew Bunn, who is an expert in nuclear security and proliferation. The reports deal with the ongoing problem of poorly secured weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, and the possibility of their acquisition and use by terrorists.

Regarding this global nuclear security issue, Dr. Bunn has this to say:

“The challenge is large and complex, but it is a finite task; it is doable... Our biggest obstacle is not complexity; it’s complacency.”

"Securing the Bomb 2010" emphasizes the problem of complacency over and over again.

The Obama administration's Nuclear Security Summit was a refreshing move away from the relative complacency of the previous presidential administration. For the first time, the rhetoric is backed up by action. The Nuclear Security Summit won't magically solve the problem over night, but it did achieve some concrete goals, as well as setting more for the future.


The Nuclear Security Summit: An Overview

I posted an overview of President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit a few days ago; in that overview, I went into the nature of the threat as well as what the Summit hoped to achieve. To summarize: there is a lot of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium out there, and not all of it is safe and secure from theft, smuggling, and eventual use in a weapon. The Obama administration has set forth the general goal of securing all of the world's weapons-usable nuclear material in the next four years. The Obama administration hoped that the Nuclear Security Summit would set in motion at the very least, an increased awareness of the problem of "loose nukes", and even better, some commitments from the world leaders attending.

They achieved quite a lot, as it turns out.


The Nuclear Security Summit: Achievements

Real-World Examples

Doubtless these arrangements were months in the making, but the announcement of them at the Nuclear Security Summit is important. It sets an example of the spirit of cooperation that was part of the reason for holding the summit.

At the Summit, it was announced that:

  • Ukraine will give up all 68kg of its highly-enriched uranium (HEU) so it can be stored safely elsewhere (read more about it here);
  • Russia will shut down its last weapons-grade plutonium-producting reactor (more here);
  • The US and Russia have signed an update to their plutonium disposition agreement, committing to safely dispose of/secure "no less than 34 metric tons" of weapons-grade plutonium in each country by 2018;
  • Canada will return spent HEU to the US for safe storage (more here); and
  • The US, Canada, and Mexico have reached a trilateral agreement to work with the IAEA to convert the fuel in Mexico's research reactor from HEU to LEU.
  • China will join UN talks on possible sanctions against Iran.


Three Days of Meetings, Distilled On Paper

The Summit produced several high-level documents. The Summit Communiqué (pdf) is a pledge agreed upon by the 47 Summit attendees. It is summarized in a Key Facts document (pdf). The Communiqué:

  • Endorses President Obama’s call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years, and pledges to work together toward this end;
  • Calls for focused national efforts to improve security and accounting of nuclear materials and strengthen regulations – with a special focus on plutonium and highly enriched uranium;
  • Seeks consolidation of stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium and reduction in the use of highly enriched uranium;
  • Promotes universality of key international treaties on nuclear security and nuclear terrorism;
  • Notes the positive contributions of mechanisms like the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, to build capacity among law enforcement, industry, and technical personnel;
  • Calls for the International Atomic Energy Agency to receive the resources it needs to develop nuclear security guidelines and provide advice to its members on how to implement them;
  • Seeks to ensure that bilateral and multilateral security assistance would be applied where it can do the most good; and
  • Encourages nuclear industry to share best practices for nuclear security, at the same time making sure that security measures do not prevent countries from enjoying the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy.

The Summit also produced a Work Plan (pdf) that describes specific ways that the goals in the Communiqué can be achieved.

Finally, many of the Summit's participants came up with specific national statements indicating how they will work domestically and multilaterally to achieve their specific nuclear security goals. I think the United States National Statement (pdf) will be of particular interest to a number of watchdog groups and critics. Among many things, it pledges to:


The Nuclear Security Summit definitely had its limitations, but overall it is being hailed as a successful shift from simply talking about the threat of nuclear terrorism to taking action, and making that critical step toward cooperation on securing dangerous nuclear materials world-wide.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:16 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Obama accomplished something big (15+ / 0-)

    and the media isn't going to give him much credit, or explain how this is really a BFD

    Tho NATO Afghanistan pullout has started! Our troops are leaving the Valley of Death. 80 % of success is showing up, and knowing when to leave!

    by Churchill on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:20:19 PM PDT

    •  Yep, "he's making us weaker!" (0+ / 0-)

      And "Reagan would have never wanted to get rid of all teh nukes!"

      "If these Republicans can't stand up to Rush, how can they stand up to the Iranians?" - Redmond Barry

      by xsonogall on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:21:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is huge. The price was the escalation in (0+ / 0-)

      Afghanistan, but in terms of our long term security and overall global suffering, the implicit deal was probably worth it.

    •  This is nothin'! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amk for obama

      We gotta talk about the Tea Party some more THAT'S REAL NEWS!

      Yes, I call it 'Obamacare' because Obama cares.

      by SpaceJunk on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:49:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Who is the babe Obama is mashing? (0+ / 0-)

      The photo is kind of small and I can only see the back of her head.

      Really. Take a good look. It sure looks like he's making-out with whomever, and the two people on the right are obviously so shocked and surprised they are gawking.

      What a great President!  Is that audacity, or what?

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:52:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What a wonderful comment (0+ / 0-)

        I bet you had to think really hard to come up with that.

        Ugh!

        Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. RFK

        by vcmvo2 on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 08:24:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where is your sense of humor? (0+ / 0-)

          God forbid anyone on this site experiance a moment of levity, eh?

          Ugh!

          levity【例句】Lack of appropriate seriousness; levity. 轻浮缺乏适中的严肃;轻率 levity not in keeping with decorum 与端庄稳重不协调的轻浮 Marked by disrespectful levity or casualness; pert. 轻浮的,无礼的带有不尊重 289;无礼或轻率特征的;冒失的

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 09:19:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  China is moving in our favor HUGE WIN (9+ / 0-)

    I can hardly believe it.  China was totally not going to do anything about Iran.  But now somehow Obama has at least got them to not block what we are trying to do.

    Tho NATO Afghanistan pullout has started! Our troops are leaving the Valley of Death. 80 % of success is showing up, and knowing when to leave!

    by Churchill on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:21:38 PM PDT

    •  That and the currency will be strengthened too (4+ / 0-)

      I don't know what kind of arm twisting the Obama admin did to Hu/Wen, but it's working!

      •  Diplomatic Tour de Force, how'd O do it? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Krush, jonnie rae, sherijr, amk for obama

        Countries don't have friends, they have interests. SWOSU Prof Petrosky, Weatherford, OKLA. 80% of success is showing up!

        by Churchill on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:28:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Currency strengthening is in China's interest (0+ / 0-)

        But it's politics. The leaders must appear before the people not to have cowed before the United States. That's probably why Geithner backed off, to give "face" to the Chinese leaders. That's just how it is dealing with China: "face" is one of the most important factor to consider.

        •  Gradual and controlled currancy appreciation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler

          Is in China's interest and that is exactly China's policy position. Please note that that the Yuan was band traded until mid 2008 until it was susended in response to the instability of world markets and the banking crisis, and that the Chinese position is it will resume at a pint it can be done without destablizing the Chinese or World economy, a position supported by many econmists, save Paul Krugman.

          Also note in the trading period preceeding suspension, the Yuan appreciated approximately 25% against the US Dollar.

          There are numerous reasons why the Yuan must be control traded until it can be changed to a convertable currency including inflation of Chinese assets due to Yuan speculator investments which have a destablizing effect on markets (now is not the time for that, thanks) but one the Obama Administration may seriously consider is the deflationary effect Yuan appreciation would have on Chinese holdings of US Treasury Bonds, something that would undercut continued Chinese investment in those bonds which the Administration depends on for it's current deficit spending. As long as the US continues to throw money down the hole in Afghanistan, Tim Geithner will continue to pressure China to support the US Treasury.

          From an investor's point of view, would you shovel assests into an investment that returns low single digit returns on maturity if you would lose double digits in value when you sold them? China faces a real Catch 22 on this given US-China economic interdependance which, at this point, obligates China to continue supporing the Treasury for the good of both while facing a huge asset deflation down-stream.

          Suppose the Yuan would appreciate 25%.

          What is 800 billion multiplied by 0.75?

          Oops!

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 09:09:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And yet... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vadasz

        WTF?!

        WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's national standing has slipped to a new low after his victory on the historic health care overhaul, even in the face of growing signs of economic revival, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll.

        The survey shows the political terrain growing rockier for Obama and congressional Democrats heading into midterm elections, boosting Republican hopes for a return to power this fall.

        •  It's tough to explain (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sherijr

          I know that the right wing machine is anti-Obama all the time, and I know that the msm is "critical" of Obama almost all the time. And I know that at the end of the day, "it's the economy, stupid" - in terms of jobs and money in hand.

          But still. Health care, mildly improving economy, massive movement on nuclear arms reduction - all within less than a month.

          And his popularity is dropping.

          Is it as simple as the media not doing its job, or is there something else afoot that I've not put my finger on? I honestly don't know.

          Nothing ever doesn't change, but nothing changes much. -OK Go

          by vadasz on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:26:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If Americans want to do this to themselves (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bill warnick, sherijr, amk for obama

            then how can we stop them?

            Seriously, this isn't about "being better Democrats" or Obama's compromises or not doing single payer.

            There is something seriously sick in this country and the fact that Republicans are poised for a comeback after 2000-2008 is utterly mindblowing and depressing.

    •  China was already moving inthat direction. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      If you follow international or domestic Chinese reporting (verses the US MSM which tends to have a strong Western bias) you would know:

      :: China has been escalating criticisms and voiceing concerns about Iraq for several months while continuing to pressure them diplomatically as they have for year. However, I'm not sure Hu quite backed sanctions yet, I suggest you read the full text of his address if you want some insight into China's position. I think China can be pursuaded to back sanctions, but thiswill depend greatly on the content of the resolution and I would not take it as a given at this point. Hu took a moderate position on sanctions leaving the door open but did not unequivoclly support such actions. This position is consistent with Chinese policy, China generally prefers negotiation and he underlined that.

      :: China's position on Yuan valuation is clear; when Yuan band trading can resume without creating a destablising effect on the the Chinese and World economy (I'll save you the explanation), China will do so and I personally expect that to happen later this year but not in the immediate future. If anything, it was Obama who bent on this issue; I suggest you read his remarks, which were supportive of the principles Hu stated while politely pressuring China, a very reasonable position given the fact it is a matter of Chinese policy and the reality of US-China economic interdependance which is a thorny issue for both. Behind closed doors I'm sure the discussion was frank and that Obama put stonger pressure on Hu, and that Hu stated China's position and reasons clearly as well.

      China was totally not going to do anything about Iran.

      With all due respect, you are totally not very knowledgeable about Chinese policy and diplomatic efforts on Iran, and apperently oblivious to the geographical proximity of Iran and China, and the geopolitical implications which suggest diplomacy suggest sabre rattling as a means of pursuasion.

      I think you also overlook the policy reversal Obama has made on Iran since taking office; not long ago, Obama's was, like, totally not going to make bad with them and tea, sympathy and flowers were going to change the mid-East. Now, having been rebuked by both Iran and Israel, he has come down to earth to face the facts about Iran and deal with them. I'm pretty sure some wise heads in the room were smiling inside when they heard the "S" word. One may have been Netanyahu who keeps poking Obama in the eye with sharp sticks and just got a favor in return.

      In any case, the summit was a great success: Global Problem, Global Cooperation, many importiant Heads of State in the room. Next step, United Nations, no?

      One World, sink or swim.

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 08:42:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama's "message" of the Summit (6+ / 0-)

    The message is clear to Iran, N. Korea, we are serious.

  •  Make enemies not block you, working relations (5+ / 0-)

    comes much later.  This China breakthrough is big.  It takes a long time to forge real working relationships between countries.  Countries don't have friendships, they have interests.  SWOSU Prof Petrosky, 1980 Weatherford OKLA

    Tho NATO Afghanistan pullout has started! Our troops are leaving the Valley of Death. 80 % of success is showing up, and knowing when to leave!

    by Churchill on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:24:19 PM PDT

  •  I'm incredibly impressed... (10+ / 0-)

    ...by not only our President, but by all of the conference attendees. In addition to the concrete achievements of the summit, it seems that friendlier diplomatic channels were opening all over the place during the week.

    Huge props to President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and all parties involved.

    •  Yes, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcmvo2, sherijr, amk for obama

      as important as it is to recognize Obama's role in this - it is one of his signature issues, afterall, going waaay back - can't praise Clinton enough for the work she's put into it. Week after week I grow more impressed with the president's call in making her Sec of State.

      Nothing ever doesn't change, but nothing changes much. -OK Go

      by vadasz on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 07:29:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question to the knowledgeable (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Churchill

    What is the most important TECHNICAL way (in practical logsitic terms, and how to enforce it)  to encure that a nuclear reactor is used only for (peacefgul) energy?

    •  Periodic, Technical, Transparent Reports (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace, kalmoth, billmosby

      it will be in real boring terms.  It's hard to understand.  But if the scientits aren't being transparent then the deal's off.  This is an accounting issue.  I mean boring accounting records to determine where the Nuclear material comes from, how it is used, when it is used up, where it is taken.  These accounting records need to be filed regularly.  Without weekly, open, inspected on a spot basis records, then the treaties are meaningless.

      It's really just watching the nuclear material, either Uranium or Platonium.

      Countries don't have friends, they have interests. SWOSU Prof Petrosky, Weatherford, OKLA. 80% of success is showing up!

      by Churchill on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:32:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  By design... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby

      A power reactor cannot be refueled while in operation and uses moderately-enriched uranium. A production reactor to make plutonium is designed for online refueling and uses uranium which is more highly enriched. There are some gray areas, but it is quite possible to build power-producing reactors totally uncapable of making plutonium (or tritium).

  •  Why don't the EU and IAEA just... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Churchill

    hire Jerry Bruckheimer to executive produce a nuclear forensics program?

    He could probably have CSI: Los Alamos on the air by the time Conan O'Brien returns to late night TV.

    ;-)

  •  I feel like some Vice President or something..... (7+ / 0-)

    This is a big fuckin' deal!

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:31:16 PM PDT

  •  Bush's inaction on this was obscene. (6+ / 0-)
    Given the absurd "WMD" rationale for invading Iraq, it was simply obscene that Bush/Cheney refused to spend more than a pittance on securing the vast quantities of nuclear warheads and fissile materials in the former Soviet Union.

    I mean, here were thousands of real, live, functional thermonuclear weapons, some of them just sitting around waiting to be stolen or diverted; and BushCoTM acted like it didn't matter! They were too busy embracing the Neocon/PNAC wet dream in Iraq.

    •  Everything Bush did got us CLOSER to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcmvo2, amk for obama

      nuclear disaster. It was fucking lunacy. Utter insanity having to listen to people pretending that the war in iraq would make us safe, while in fact it set off a chain reaction around the entire globe that fueled the desire of states to acquire nukes.

      What a disaster.

  •  A nice wrap-up page. I should say (8+ / 0-)

    this is the most successful nuclear summit ever.

    Between birthers, deathers and mouth-breathers, the gop has got 'teh crazy' and 'teh stoopid' covered.

    by amk for obama on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:33:47 PM PDT

  •  i always hated the acronym "start" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vcmvo2, amk for obama

    because signing it seemed to be an end, until it needed renewal. i think we may finally have a treaty that really is a start towards something much bigger.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:36:35 PM PDT

  •  The ultra-right will say we are much weaker (0+ / 0-)

    some like Liz Cheney are being crazy.  

    Countries don't have friends, they have interests. SWOSU Prof Petrosky, Weatherford, OKLA. 80% of success is showing up!

    by Churchill on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:36:48 PM PDT

  •  That photo proves what a two-face Yanukovich is. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krush

    rimshot

    "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." -Mark Twain

    by AtomikNY on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:39:26 PM PDT

  •  Thank you Mexico (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krush, mariachi mama

    Thanks to President Calderon for being a partner to the agreement. In a country where "la mordida"  is a way of life I often wonder what else the drug cartels could smuggle across our still porous southern border.

    Chance favors the prepared mind-Pasteur

    by tlemon on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 06:41:56 PM PDT

  •  Everybody Realizes This Would Not Have Happened (5+ / 0-)

    if McCain won, right?

    I'll allow that maybe he thinks its a good idea, and something he may have wanted to pursue if he did win. But a victory by him would have been interpreted by the hawks in the GOP as validation of themselves and the Bush years, and they would not be on board with these moves. All that they would be interested is in proclaiming the country had validated Bushism and that it had endorsed a move against Iran. and we know that President McCain and Secy of State Lieberman would be all for that, with Bibi volunteering to fire the first shot.

    think about that next time some bonehead around here posts about how nothing has changed.

  •  While we're on this subject ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherijr

    Remind your Tea Party / Republican / Reagan loving friends, and relatives, that Ronald Reagan's first official trip abroad was to promote and sell Nuclear Reactors to China.

    While it was billed as "promoting American interests abroad" was nothing more than a sales trip for Bechtel Corp. I'm sure  made Reagan's Sec. of State (and former Bechtel President and Director) George P. Shultz and Casper Willard "Cap" Weinberger, his Sec. of Defense (and  Bechtel Corp's former chief counsel) very very happy.

  •  This is great Page (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherijr

    A masterly summation. Thank you!

    Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 08:22:32 PM PDT

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