WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has urged India and Pakistan not to continue moving in the wrong direction as they develop their military doctrines.
In his concluding remarks at the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, Mr Obama said that leaders from across the globe had gathered at the two-day event to discuss “one of the greatest threats to global security — terrorists getting their hands on a weapon of mass destruction”.
At a news briefing after the summit, Mr Obama identified various regions that deserved special attention for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and enriched materials and South Asia was top on this list.
“The other area where I think we need to see progress is Pakistan and India, that Sub-continent, making sure that as they develop military doctrines, that they are not continually moving in the wrong direction,” he said.
President Obama also expressed concern over a rapid increase in tactical or small nuclear weapons, although he did not name the countries that were doing so.
“Global stocks of plutonium are growing, nuclear arsenals are expanding in some countries, with more small tactical nuclear weapons which could be at greater risk of theft,” he said.
The US media, however, interpreted this statement as a reference to Pakistan. They claimed that in the days leading to the summit several US officials had identified Pakistan as the country making small nuclear weapons.
Mr Obama said that because of this continuous increase in tactical nuclear weapons, the summit tried to build “an international architecture” that can continue the efforts to curb this proliferation, even though this was the last formal meeting of world leaders from this platform.
He said the conference devoted an entire session to consider how to prevent the militant Islamic State (IS) and other groups from carrying out major terrorist acts like “what’s happened in Brussels, in Turkey, Pakistan, and so many other countries around the world”.
In his weekly address on Saturday, Mr Obama once again warned that groups like Al Qaeda and IS would use nuclear weapons if they ever get hold of it.
“Fortunately, because of our efforts so far, no terrorist group has yet succeeded in obtaining a nuclear device or producing a dirty bomb using radioactive materials,” he said.
“We know that Al Qaeda has tried. IS has already used chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq. And, if they ever got hold of a nuclear weapon or nuclear material, we have no doubt they will use it,” the US President said.
He said that’s why the United States was leading a global effort to secure the world’s nuclear materials.
“Working with other nations, we have removed or secured enough nuclear material for more than 150 nuclear weapons that will now never fall into the hands of terrorists,” he said.
Mr Obama said that the entire South America was now free of these deadly materials and Central Europe and Southeast Asia would be free of them later this year.
Mr Obama said that at the summit, he and other world leaders agreed to further strengthen nuclear facilities from cyber attacks and improve intelligence sharing to ensure dangerous materials stay out of the hands of terrorists.
He noted that more than a dozen nations had disposed of their entire supplies of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium — the radioactive elements necessary to build nuclear bombs.
Mr Obama also met a smaller group of nations closely involved in last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran. He told the so-called P5+1 group the deal with Iran had “achieved a substantial success and focused on the dangers of nuclear proliferation in a real way”.
Mr Obama said that so far world leaders had made “260 specific commitments to improve nuclear security”, both at this year’s summit and their previous sessions. “And so far,” the president reported, “three-quarters of these steps have been implemented”.
Mr Obama said that for the first time in a decade, the United States was also providing a public inventory of its stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium.
Leaders from more than 50 countries attended the two-day nuclear summit, which concluded in Washington on Friday evening.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2016