Nuclear summit warms up Washington DC Monday

April 13th, 2010 - 12:04 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Manish Chand
Washington, April 12 (IANS) It’s cherry blossom season in the American capital as US President Barack Obama’s pet project, the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit, opens here Monday amid high hopes of keeping terrorists away from loose bomb-making materials in the world.

The riot of pink and white blooms surrounding the Tidal Basin, a gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the Japanese in 1912, on the eve of the summit contrasts with the weighty issues of nuclear security that the 46 world leaders will discuss with Obama for the next two days.

The summit is the largest gathering of world leaders called by an American president since the iconic Franklin D. Roosevelt organised the 1945 meeting in San Francisco that gave birth to the United Nations.

Tragically, Roosevelt died two weeks before the session opened, but the 48-year-old Obama has time on his side to see his dream, unveiled in Prague a year ago to rid the world of nuclear weapons, turn real.

The summit will open at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Monday with an official welcome and dinner by Obama for visiting world leaders and culminate in a joint communique Tuesday that will spell out a specific plan to secure bomb-usable materials within four years.

On the eve of the summit, Obama Sunday described the possibility of a terrorist organisation obtaining a nuclear weapon, “the single biggest threat to US security, both short-term, medium-term and long-term”.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is among the world leaders invited for the summit that includes the major, minor and aspiring nuclear powers. Iran and North Korea have been excluded for their defiant violations of their Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is also in the American capital with a rising chorus of media reports highlighting Islamabad’s dubious record in proliferation and the potential of the Pakistan-Afghanistan region turning into a hub of nuclear terrorism.

“Nowhere is that truer than Pakistan, where two Taliban insurgencies and Al Qaeda coexist with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal,” says a report in the New York Times.

The spotlight on Pakistan’s proliferation record is good news for India as Manmohan Singh braces to highlight the issue of clandestine proliferation in his intervention at the summit Monday. India is also keen to set up a nuclear security centre for protecting atomic materials.

In his 50-minute talks Sunday with Manmohan Singh at Blair House, the presidential guest house, Obama appreciated India’s contributions to the preparations for the summit.

Manmohan Singh congratulated Obama on his initiative in convening this summit and underlined that India was an important stakeholder in this global endeavour.

Pakistan-origin proliferation and activities of A.Q. Khan network, run by founder of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, are not officially on the summit’s agenda, but the media reports are full of these.

Instead of being country-specific, Obama has decided to set more doable targets of securing in four years all loose nuclear bomb-making materials, including highly enriched uranium, in the world. The summit will focus on specific national and international commitments towards achieving this goal.

“I am concerned about nuclear security all around the world, not just in Pakistan but everywhere,” Obama said ahead of the summit. “We anticipate a communique that spells out very clearly, here’s how we’re going to achieve locking down all the nuclear materials over the next four years, with very specific steps in order to assure that.”

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