47 Heads of State Met to Promise Little and Decide Nothing
It was a pretty thin soup that Obama served up at the end of his Nuclear Security Summit. Top officials from 47 nations, among them 38 heads of state, gathered amid great fanfare to decide precisely nothing. In diplomatic speak, the non-binding vagueness at the conclusion read as follows: “… We reaffirmed that it is the fundamental responsibility of nations, consistent with their international obligations, to maintain effective security of the nuclear materials and facilities under our control.”
Wow! Following that came a statement that nuclear states would do a better job of safeguarding their radioactive material so it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. Bravo, nuclear states! The problem is that, after this memorable meeting, there was no mention of what punitive measures would be taken for non-compliance if somebody bartered this or that nuclear component that could be used to build an atomic bomb. And one of the most likely to do so in this regard — North Korea — wasn’t even represented at the Washington summit.
Still, Obama did get the nuclear security issue to the top of the international agenda. And there were also practical examples: Russia and the United States are reducing their nuclear arsenals, Ukraine will rid itself completely of its stock of weapons-grade uranium by the year 2012 and Mexico will use only low-enriched uranium in its reactors. Others have to follow suit.