Two summits on preventing nuclear terrorism held, one scheduled for 2014
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama emphasized the importance of preventing nuclear terrorism by saying that he would hold a summit in 2009 — his first year in office — "and regularly thereafter."
In 2009, we rated this promise a Compromise because the first summit was scheduled to take place a year later than Obama had pledged. But since then, summits have been held in both 2010 and 2012, and we have decided to change our rating.
The first conference was held in Washington on April 12 and 13, 2010. The second was held in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26 and 27, 2012.
Not all nuclear arms-control advocates were satisfied with the outcome of the 2012 conclave -- the editors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists had a somewhat pessimistic assessment -- but more directly relevant to Obama's promise, the meetings have become institutionalized on a once-every-two-years basis, including a 2014 summit scheduled to be held in the Netherlands.
Matthew Bunn, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, says the one-year delay is less significant than the fact that two summits have been held and a third has been scheduled. We rate this a Promise Kept.
State Department, "Key Facts about the Nuclear Security Summit," April 2010
State Department, "Key Facts on the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit,” March 2012
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, "2012 Nuclear Security Summit: What it was and wasn't," March 30, 2012
Arms Control Today, "Dutch to Host ‘14 Nuclear Security Summit," March 2012
Email interview with Matthew Bunn, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Nov. 5, 2012
Summit is planned ... in 2010
During the campaign, President Barack Obama emphasized the importance of preventing nuclear terrorism by saying that he would hold a summit in 2009 — his first year in office — "and regularly thereafter." He has taken steps to fulfill the promise, but he is falling short of his goal of doing it this year.
In a speech in Prague in April, Obama called the possibility that a terrorist might get a nuclear weapon "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security."
And in Italy in July, Obama announced his plan to host a Global Nuclear Security Summit in March 2010.
According to the White House:
• The summit will allow discussion on the nature of the threat and develop steps that can be taken together to secure vulnerable materials, combat nuclear smuggling and deter, detect and disrupt attempts at nuclear terrorism.
• The planned outcome of the summit would be a communiqué pledging efforts to attain the highest levels of nuclear security, which is essential for international security as well as the development and expansion of peaceful nuclear energy worldwide.
In September, Obama called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, which unanimously co-sponsored and adopted a resolution committing to work toward a world without nuclear weapons and endorsing a broad framework of actions to reduce global nuclear dangers.
According to a White House fact sheet, the measure, UNSC Resolution 1887, "expresses the council"s grave concern about the threat of nuclear proliferation and the need for international action to prevent it. It reaffirms that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery are threats to international peace and security and shows agreement on a broad range of actions to address nuclear proliferation and disarmament and the threat of nuclear terrorism."
So Obama has made considerable progress on this one. But he made a point of saying the summit would be in 2009 and now it won't be held until 2010. So we rate it Compromise.
White House Web site, Press release: "Addressing the Nuclear Threat: Fulfilling the Promise of Prague at the L"Aquila Summit," July 8, 2009
Time, "Signs At Obama's Speech in Prague," by Michael Scherer, April 5, 2009
U.N. Security Council, "Historic Summit of Security Council Pledges Support for Progress on Stalled Efforts to End Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Resolution 1887 (2009) Adopted with 14 Heads of State, Government Present," Sept. 24, 2009