"An Enormously Productive Day"

Capping a week of historic progress on the issues of nuclear security, non-proliferation, and the threat of nuclear terrorism, the President closed out the two-day Nuclear Security Summit with a lengthy press conference to discuss the progress that had been made.   Shortly afterwards the White House released a series of hey documents related to the summit: 

 

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The President's opening remarks at the press conference:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  We have just concluded an enormously productive day. 

I said this morning that today would be an opportunity for our nations, both individually and collectively, to make concrete commitments and take tangible steps to secure nuclear materials so they never fall into the hands of terrorists who would surely use them. 

This evening, I can report that we have seized this opportunity, and because of the steps we’ve taken -- as individual nations and as an international community -- the American people will be safer and the world will be more secure.

I want to thank all who participated in this historic summit -- 49 leaders from every region of the world.  Today’s progress was possible because these leaders came not simply to talk, but to take action; not simply to make vague pledges of future action, but to commit to meaningful steps that they are prepared to implement right now. 

I also want to thank my colleagues for the candor and cooperative spirit that they brought to the discussions.  This was not a day of long speeches or lectures on what other nations must do.  We listened to each other, with mutual respect.  We recognized that while different countries face different challenges, we have a mutual interest in securing these dangerous materials.

So today is a testament to what is possible when nations come together in a spirit of partnership to embrace our shared responsibility and confront a shared challenge.  This is how we will solve problems and advance the security of our people in the 21st century.  And this is reflected in the communiqué that we have unanimously agreed to today.

First, we agreed on the urgency and seriousness of the threat.  Coming into this summit, there were a range of views on this danger.  But at our dinner last night, and throughout the day, we developed a shared understanding of the risk. 

Today, we are declaring that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security.  We also agreed that the most effective way to prevent terrorists and criminals from acquiring nuclear materials is through strong nuclear security -- protecting nuclear materials and preventing nuclear smuggling.

Second, I am very pleased that all the nations represented here have endorsed the goal that I outlined in Prague one year ago -- to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years’ time.  This is an ambitious goal, and we are under no illusions that it will be easy.  But the urgency of the threat, and the catastrophic consequences of even a single act of nuclear terrorism, demand an effort that is at once bold and pragmatic.  And this is a goal that can be achieved.

Third, 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.  This includes strengthening national laws and policies, and fully implementing the commitments we have agreed to.

And fourth, we recognized that even as we fulfill our national responsibilities, this threat cannot be addressed by countries working in isolation.  So we’ve committed ourselves to a sustained, effective program of international cooperation on national [sic] security, and we call on other nations to join us.

It became clear in our discussions that we do not need lots of new institutions and layers of bureaucracy.  We need to strengthen the institutions and partnerships that we already have -— and make them even more effective.  This includes the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the multilateral partnership that strengthens nuclear security, prevent nuclear trafficking and assist nations in building their capacity to secure their nuclear materials.   

But as I said, today was about taking tangible steps to protect our people.  So we’ve also agreed to a detailed work plan to guide our efforts going forward -- the specific actions we will take.  I want to commend my partners for the very important commitments that they made in conjunction with this summit.  Let me give some examples.

Canada agreed to give up a significant quantity of highly enriched uranium.  Chile has given up its entire stockpile.  Ukraine and Mexico announced that they will do the same.  Other nations -- such as Argentina and Pakistan -- announced new steps to strengthen port security and prevent nuclear smuggling. 

More nations -- including Argentina, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam -- agreed to join, and thus strengthen, the treaties and international partnerships that are at the core of our global efforts.  A number of countries -— including Italy, Japan, India and China -— will create new centers to promote nuclear security technologies and training.  Nations pledged new resources to help the IAEA meet its responsibilities.

In a major and welcomed development, Russia announced that it will close its last weapons-grade plutonium production reactor.  After many years of effort, I’m pleased that the United States and Russia agreed today to eliminate 68 tons of plutonium for our weapons programs -— plutonium that would have been enough for about 17,000 nuclear weapons.  Instead, we will use this material to help generate electricity for our people.

These are exactly the kind of commitments called for in the work plan that we adopted today, so we’ve made real progress in building a safer world.

I would also note that the United States has made its own commitments.  We are strengthening security at our own nuclear facilities, and will invite the IAEA to review the security at our neutron research center.  This reflects our commitment to sharing the best practices that are needed in our global efforts. We’re seeking significant funding increases for programs to prevent nuclear proliferation and trafficking. 

And today, the United States is joining with our Canadian partners and calling on nations to commit $10 billion to extending our highly successful Global Partnership to strengthen nuclear security around the world.

So this has been a day of great progress.  But as I said this morning, this can’t be a fleeting moment.  Securing nuclear materials must be a serious and sustained global effort.  We agreed to have our experts meet on a regular basis —- to measure progress, to ensure that we’re meeting our commitments and to plan our next steps. 

And I again want to thank President Lee and the Republic of Korea for agreeing to host the next Nuclear Security Summit in two years.

Finally, let me say while this summit is focused on securing nuclear materials, this is part of a larger effort -— the comprehensive agenda that I outlined in Prague last year to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Indeed, in recent days we’ve made progress on every element of this agenda.

To reduce nuclear arsenals, President Medvedev and I signed the historic new START treaty —- not only committing our two nations to significant reductions in deployed nuclear weapons, but also setting the stage for further cuts and cooperation between our countries.

To move beyond outdated Cold War thinking and to focus on the nuclear dangers of the 21st century, our new Nuclear Posture Review reduces the role and number of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.  And for the first time, preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism is at the top of America’s nuclear agenda, which reaffirms the central importance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

And next month in New York, we will join with nations from around the world to strengthen the NPT as the cornerstone of our global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons even as we pursue greater civil nuclear cooperation.  Because for nations that uphold their responsibilities, peaceful nuclear energy can unlock new advances in medicine, in agriculture, and economic development. 

All of these efforts are connected.  Leadership and progress in one area reinforces progress in another.  When the United States improves our own nuclear security and transparency, it encourages others to do the same, as we’ve seen today.  When the United States fulfills our responsibilities as a nuclear power committed to the NPT, we strengthen our global efforts to ensure that other nations fulfill their responsibilities. 

So again, I want to thank my colleagues for making this unprecedented gathering a day of unprecedented progress in confronting one of the greatest threats to our global security.  Our work today not only advances the security of the United States, it advances the security of all mankind, and preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism will remain one of my highest priorities as President.      

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