PHOTO BY: Credit: Tejinder Singh
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Laura Holgate, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and Threat Reduction (L) and Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy



Washington, DC – Top officials from the Obama Administration on Tuesday(March 29) defined the purpose of the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit to take steps to put peer pressure on particular countries and not to “name and shame” those erring nations.

Answering a question from Indian American Times, Laura Holgate, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and Threat Reduction told a special briefing at the Foreign Press Center, Washington, DC, “The purpose of the summits is not to name and shame.”

Identifying the purpose of the summit, “to identify steps that we can take together, and certainly, individual steps that individual countries can make,” Holgate said, “And it’s a place to create peer pressure, if you will, but you will not hear us say in an official context or any other context that we have particular concerns about particular countries.” “Any nuclear material in any location is at risk and needs to be fully secured and fully protected,” she cautioned.

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy explained the risk didn’t belong “exclusively to countries with military nuclear programs,” but any country with research reactors for medical purposes, for example, countries with nuclear power.

“There are sources of material spread across the world. And so we are all interdependent in the sense that those who have the least effective protection of their material put all of us at risk, and therefore, we have to come together through this process to work collaboratively to strengthen capabilities worldwide,” said Sherwood-Randall.

In her initial remarks, Holgate warned, “A terrorist attack with an improvised nuclear device would create political, economic, social, psychological, and environmental havoc around the world, no matter where such attack occurs.”

Although the defined aim of the first summit in April 2010 in Washington, DC, was to prevent nuclear terrorism and counter nuclear smuggling, the goal of this final summit is to look at “more lasting vehicles to promote nuclear security progress.”

“We will issue five action plans in support of the key enduring institutions and initiatives related to nuclear security. Those are the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Interpol, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and the Global Partnership,” said Holgate, noting, “These action plans represent steps the summit participants will take as members of these organizations to support their enhanced role in nuclear security going forward.”

President Barack Obama will host dignitaries from 56 nations and organizations for the Nuclear Security Summit, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Francois Hollande, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Representatives from international organizations are: Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency; Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission; Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of the International Criminal Police Organization – (INTERPOL).

Russia will be conspicuously absent as Moscow declined to send a representative to the final summit.

“Russia’s decision to not participate at a high level, we believe, is a missed opportunity for Russia above all. They have benefited enormously from cooperation on nuclear security and non-proliferation in the past,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser. “Frankly, all they’re doing is isolating themselves in not participating as they have in the past.”

After terror attacks rocked both countries, Pakistan will be represented by Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs while Belgium delegation is led by Jan Jambon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Security and Home Affairs.

President Obama stated in his speech in Prague in 2009 that nuclear terrorism is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security. He announced an international effort to secure vulnerable nuclear materials, break up black markets, and detect and intercept illicitly trafficked materials. The first Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington, DC in 2010, and was followed by additional Summits in Seoul in 2012 and The Hague in 2014.

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