President Cites Progress at Nuclear Security Summit
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2012 While progress has been made toward security and peace, it’s “undeniable” that a nuclear terror threat remains, President Barack Obama said in Seoul, South Korea, today.
“There are still too many bad actors in search of these dangerous materials, and these dangerous materials are still vulnerable in too many places,” Obama said at the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea’s capital city, where leaders from more than 50 nations have gathered.
“It would not take much -- just a handful or so of these materials -- to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people,” he added. “And that's not an exaggeration; that's the reality that we face.”
Obama recalled hosting the first Nuclear Security Summit two years ago in Washington. “There were those who questioned whether our nations could summon the will to confront one of the gravest dangers of our time,” he said. “In part because it involves a lot of technical issues, in part because the world was still grappling with a whole host of other issues like the economy and the global recession, there was some skepticism that we would be able to sustain an effort around this topic. But that's exactly what we've done.”
Leaders agreed that nuclear terrorism is one of the most urgent and serious threats to global security, Obama said, and they agreed to the goal of securing the world’s nuclear materials in four years. They knew this goal would require sustained and effective international cooperation, the president said, and an architecture in which they could share best practices, sustain commitments and ensure ongoing progress.
Over the past two years, they’ve backed their words up with deeds, Obama said.
“We are improving security at our nuclear facilities. We are forging new partnerships. We are removing nuclear materials, and in some cases, getting rid of these materials entirely,” he said. “And as a result, more of the world's nuclear materials will never fall into the hands of terrorists who would gladly use them against us.”
However, one nation can’t tackle this challenge alone, the president said. It will require working together as an international community.
“What we did in Washington, what we're now doing in Korea, becomes part of a larger global architecture designed to reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism, but also allows us then to more safely and effectively pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” he said.
Once again, nations have gathered to make commitments, and to take “more real, tangible steps,” the president noted. And, as a consequence, more people will be safeguarded from the danger posed by nuclear terrorism.
“We've come a long way in a very short time, and that should encourage us,” Obama said. “And that should not lead us to complacency, however; it should fortify our will as we continue to deal with these issues.
“I believe we can maintain that will and that focus,” he continued. “I believe we must, because the security of the world depends on the actions that we take.”