U.S. President Barack Obama said in his weekly Saturday address “no terrorist group has yet succeeded in obtaining a nuclear device or producing a dirty bomb using radioactive materials,” but al-Qaida has tried.
Washington, April 2, 2016.- The president delivered his address from the Nuclear Security Summit where world leaders gathered to discuss what Obama described as “one of the greatest threats to global security – terrorists getting their hands on a weapon of mass destruction.”
Obama says Friday that global efforts to stop terrorists and others from using nuclear weapons are by “no means finished.”
Obama wrapped up the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington by saying world leaders had made “significant and meaningful” progress over the last six years in securing stockpiles of nuclear material.
Obama said enough material to build 150 weapons was now safe from terrorists.
But he said nuclear arsenals in some countries were expanding and stocks of plutonium were growing.
Obama said he and the more than 50 other world leaders in Washington agreed to further strengthen nuclear facilities from cyberattacks and improve intelligence sharing to continue to make sure dangerous materials stay out of the hands of terror groups, such as Islamic State.
The president noted that more than a dozen nations had disposed of their entire supplies of highly enriched uranium and plutonium — the radioactive elements necessary to build nuclear bombs.
During six years of international meetings on nuclear security — including four summits, which he initiated — the U.S. president said, “We’ve embraced a new type of thinking and a new type of action.”
“This is a perfect example of a 21st-century security challenge that no one nation can solve alone,” Obama told the leaders at a plenary session of the summit broadcast worldwide. “It requires coalitions and sustained coordination across borders and institutions. And the good news is we’ve made significant progress.”
Obama also met with a smaller gathering of the nations most closely involved in last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran. He told the so-called P5+1 group the deal with Iran had “achieved a substantial success and focused on the dangers of nuclear proliferation in a real way.”
He stressed, however, that “full and continued implementation” of the Iran agreement would “take the same level of cooperation” from the international community.
This year’s nuclear security summit has come at a time of heightened concern about the possibility that Islamic State militants could acquire nuclear materials to build “dirty bombs” that could spread deadly radioactive fallout over wide areas. North Korea’s nuclear-weapons development program also has been closely studied.
Obama said the scores of nations working together on nuclear security have made “260 specific commitments to improve nuclear security,” both at this year’s summit and their previous sessions.
“And so far,” the president reported, “three-quarters of these steps have been implemented. More than a dozen nations have removed all their highly enriched uranium and plutonium.”
“Once again, I am making it clear that the United States will do our part,” Obama added. “Today we’re releasing a detailed description of the measures that our military takes to protect nuclear materials, so that other nations can improve their security and transparency as well.
“For the first time in a decade we are providing a public inventory of our stockpiles of our highly enriched uranium. … And that inventory is one that we have reduced considerably.”