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US seeks support for its nuclear strategy

By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-13 07:22
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Obama reaches out to other nations to secure weapons

WASHINGTON - United States President Barack Obama still has a long way to go to fulfill his three-step strategy of reducing global nuclear arms and strengthening nuclear security, analysts said.

US seeks support for its nuclear strategy
United States President Barack Obama addresses reporters during his meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma at Blair House in Washington DC on Sunday. [Photo/Reuters]

At a speech in Prague last April, Obama outlined his major nuclear policy goal as a global mission that requires more than just America's efforts.

He listed nuclear terrorism on the top of his list and his objectives include leading a global effort to secure all nuclear material at vulnerable sites within four years, convening a nuclear security summit hosted by the United States within a year and setting new standards and pursuing a new partnership to lock down sensitive nuclear materials.

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But a common consensus on the threat of nuclear terrorism is not easy to achieve in the international community and the Obama administration must work closely with other countries to realize the dream of a world free of nuclear weapons, US analysts said.

The Obama administration recently launched a series of initiatives to accomplish its nuclear goals.

Last week, Obama approved a new nuclear policy for the US, the Nuclear Posture Review, vowing to reduce America's nuclear arsenal, refrain from nuclear tests and not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them.

Following that, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in Prague that aims to reduce each side's deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550.

This week's Nuclear Security Summit is regarded as a third step to strengthen Obama's hand before he heads to the United Nations next month for the review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the centerpiece of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

A US nuclear policy report says that bolstering the global nonproliferation regime is the best way to contain the threat of proliferation posed by some potential nuclear states, such as Iran.

"The imperative before the Obama administration is to use all available tools to prevent the use and further acquisition of nuclear weapons," says the report published by the Council of Foreign Relations.

It suggests that Washington should work cooperatively to ensure that every state with nuclear weapons or weapons-usable materials implements best nuclear security practices - even those countries that remain outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty like India and Pakistan.

"The United States cannot form a more effective nuclear security system alone. It must work cooperatively with global partners," it says.

All states share the responsibility to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, to prevent the acquisition of additional nuclear weapons by other states, and to redouble efforts to secure and reduce existing nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials, according to the report.

Sharon Squassoni, a senior fellow and director of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, said a "fundamental challenge" for nuclear security and nuclear nonproliferation is getting other countries to collaborate to make it harder for terrorists and would-be nuclear-weapon states to achieve their goals.

"The first step in obtaining widespread cooperation is agreeing that there is a problem. The second step is agreeing to take action. The third step may be putting time, money and effort into solving the problem," she said.

This summit will likely focus on the first two steps in the process, she said, with the understanding that a global fissile material lockup can be accomplished in a shorter period of time with many more hands to help.

But it is difficult to achieve the goals of the summit due to complicated regional security issues, such as India and Pakistan, said Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.

"No one can dispute the significance and urgency of the issues to be addressed at the nuclear security summit, namely that of preventing acts of nuclear terrorism and securing vulnerable nuclear materials," she said.

"But achieving these goals in practical terms will be difficult, given the complex regional security dynamics driving nuclear decision making in different parts of the world. Nowhere are these regional dynamics more complex than in South Asia."

China Daily