Nuclear Summit Takeaways and Next Steps

June 4, 2014
By Sharon Wilke, Belfer Center Communications

The 2014 Nuclear Security Summit was attended by more than 50 heads of government and representatives. Summit successes included Japan’s announcement that it would ship to the U.S. and UK 50-70 bombs-worth of HEU and plutonium, and a pledge by 35 countries to adhere to nuclear security standards recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs commentary and analysis of the Summit and the best next steps are available at Nuclear Security Matters. See some Belfer Center perspectives below.
Graham Allison, director
“What is the single most significant takeaway from the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague? It is that contrary to business as usual in government, President Obama and his colleagues were able to distinguish between the urgent and the important.
When asked by reporters at The Hague how, with Russia’s action in Crimea, he and the others there could be talking about nuclear security, President Obama said aptly, ‘Russia is a problem. A nuclear weapon exploding in Manhattan would be a catastrophe.’”
Matthew Bunn, professor of practice
“Despite being overshadowed by Ukraine, the third nuclear security summit delivered the goods, including a broad commitment by the majority of participants to follow IAEA recommendations and accept periodic reviews of their nuclear security arrangements; a Japanese pledge to eliminate some of the most dangerous nuclear material that existed in any non-nuclear-weapon-state; and a new initiative to improve security for radioactive sources. Leaders’ desire to have something to announce again created a much-needed forcing function.”
Gary Samore, executive director
“Like Washington in 2010 and Seoul in 2012, the 2014 Hague Nuclear Security Summit provided a useful mechanism to focus attention on the threat of nuclear terrorism and mobilize efforts to strengthen nuclear security in the form of the Summit Communiqué, collective commitments by coalitions of countries, and actions by individual states. The big challenge now—as President Obama identified—is how to intensify international efforts in the run up to 2016, which is likely to be the final summit.”
William Tobey, senior fellow
“The 2014 Nuclear Security Summit recorded important accomplishments. Japan’s decision to relinquish hundreds of kilograms of plutonium and highly enriched uranium will ensure that this material will be invulnerable to theft. The joint commitment by 35 nations to strengthened nuclear security was significant, although it also highlighted the refusal to subscribe by other nations holding half the world’s stocks of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material—including Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Belarus, and South Africa. We must do better.”

 Graham Allison, director

Graham Allison, Belfer Center director
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

"President Obama and his colleagues were able to distinguish between the urgent and the importan," said Allison.

 Matthew Bunn, professor of practice

Matthew Bunn, professor of practice

“Despite being overshadowed by Ukraine, the third nuclear security summit delivered the goods," said Bunn.

 


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