August 17, 2017

Takeaways from the Nuclear Security Summit, 2016

An article by Vinita Kinra (@VinitaKinra)

Washington became the venue for one of the most robust forums for leaders to engage and reinforce the common commitment at the highest levels to secure nuclear materials. Nuclear terrorist attack would “change our world,” US President Barack Obama warned. World leaders from more than 50 nations represented at the summit expressed their concern about North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and Russia’s absence from the summit. Another eye-brow raiser was Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif’s cancelation from the summit due to the deadly terrorist attack in Lahore.

On the sidelines of the summit, contentions between US and China over South China Sea were obvious. “Like China and other countries, the United States has significant interests in the Asia-Pacific region,” said President Obama, obliquely referring to the discord over South China Sea. Chinese President Xi Jinping rebuffed the comment by stating, “Our two countries have some disputes and disagreements,” and called on both sides to avoid “misunderstanding and misperceptions.”

Russia was also on President Obama’s radar as he expressed concern over Russia’s continued efforts to build its military. Mr. Obama reminded his audience that Islamic State had already used nuclear weapons in Syria. “There is no doubt that if these mad men ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material, they would certainly use it to kill as many people as possible,” he said. He added, “The single most effective defense against nuclear terrorism is fully securing this material so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in the first place.”

 

Iran was not far from discussions as Obama hailed as “substantial success” the nuclear agreement between US and Iran. Asked about presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s comments about South Korea and Japan possessing nuclear weapons, Mr. Obama remarked, “The person who made the statement doesn’t know much about foreign policy, nuclear policy, the Korean peninsula or the world generally.”

The summit came in the wake of a string of terrorist attacks from France to Syria to Belgium and Pakistan. Experts were worried sick last month upon hearing the news that the Brussels terrorists were secretly videotaping a Belgian nuclear official. The official worked at a facility that had radiological material, something terrorists could use for a “dirty bomb.”

The motto of Defusing the Nuclear Threat rightly states: “The risk of a nuclear catastrophe is far greater than we think. Our ability to reduce that risk is far greater than we imagine.”

About the author:

Vinita Kinra has been featured among 150 most remarkable Canadians by Canadian Race Relations Foundation. She is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.

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