Obama warns of nuclear terrorism threat

2012-03-26 09:03

Seoul - US President Barack Obama warned on Monday that nuclear terrorism remained one of the world's biggest threats, as he called for greater urgency in safeguarding the world's atomic stockpiles.

In a speech hours before the opening of a nuclear security summit in South Korea, Obama said major progress had been made over the past two years to make it harder for terrorists to get hold of material for atomic weapons.

"But we're under no illusions. We know that nuclear material - enough for many weapons - is still being stored without adequate protection," he said.

"We know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it, as well as the radioactive material for a dirty bomb... the danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security."

Obama urged the leaders or top officials from 53 nations who had gathered in Seoul for the two-day summit to "keep at it", and take concrete actions to secure nuclear materials.

Obama said he expected many nations to announce they had fulfilled pledges made at the inaugural nuclear summit in Washington two years ago, and for other countries to make new commitments on securing or removing material.

Escalating tension

"This is the serious and sustained global effort we need. This is an example of more nations bearing the responsibility and the costs of meeting global challenges," he said.

The atomic programmes of North Korea and Iran were also set to be the focus of intense discussion on the sidelines of the summit, although they were not officially on the agenda of the two-day event.

In North Asia, tensions have escalated in recent weeks after North Korea announced it would launch a long-range rocket in April, which the United States believes is intended to test a missile capable of delivering an atomic warhead.

Obama again told North Korea on Monday to abandon its nuclear ambitions, warning its erratic and provocative behaviour would not be rewarded.

"By now it should be clear, your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek, they have undermined it," he said.

"And know this - there will be no more rewards for provocations. Those days are over. This is the choice before you. This is the decision you must make."


The nuclear-armed North insists its rocket launch will merely put a peaceful satellite into orbit.

Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak had presented a united front against North Korea during a news conference on Sunday.

Obama is scheduled to meet separately with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday ahead of the start of the summit.

Iran's nuclear programme, as well as North Korea's, was expected to be discussed during those meetings.

Obama warned Iran in his speech that time was running out to resolve the standoff over its nuclear programme through diplomacy.

"There is time to solve this diplomatically... but time is short. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands," he said.

Nuclear arms cuts

Experts have acknowledged major progress on the fissile material front since the Washington summit two years ago.

They point to former Soviet republic Kazakhstan securing over 13 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium since then, while Chile eliminated its entire HEU stockpile.

The United States and Russia also signed a protocol under which each will dispose of 34 tons of plutonium - enough for 17 000 nuclear weapons.

Obama also said on Monday he would raise the possibility of fresh nuclear arms cuts with Russia, and announced that all HEU had been removed from Ukraine.

  • cyanideandhappiness - 2012-03-26 09:29

    Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda Propaganda!!!!!! Seriously, the US is allowed to run military exercises in foreign lands, steam roll over countries for oil and to get invisible and non existent terrorists, and then their up in arms when Iran wants to build nuclear power and North Korea wants to launch some satellites? The warmongering hyenas in Washington are circling and antagonizing their prey, prepare for another false flag...

      Arthur - 2012-03-26 10:14

      Absolutely. Look at how the French have bankrupted fishermen along the coast from all the nuclear ocean tests they've done - why isn't the USA giving anti-nuclear speeches there? Israel is begging for war with Iran and the USA will back them even though they can't afford to, under the same rubbish guise they used for most of the middle east - terrorism and nuclear arms. The USA is a joke, they're collapsing and had better find a more sustainable way to sort their own mess out and stop interfering and war mongering with other countries.

  • Fidel - 2012-03-26 09:30

    Fear mongering as always. How about making the world a safer place by getting rid of your nuclear stockpiles as has been requested by Russia instead of you and the Brits updating your arsenal.

  • Fidel - 2012-03-26 09:59

    Mayday mayday heavy censorship. I thought this was a comment area but it turns out to be an agreement-only area. Please show me where the dissent corner is so I can go stand there and not get in the way of the circle-jerk in progress. The whole fear-mongering screed is equally inane. - The " terrorists" are the elusive boogeyman that serve to keep gullible people fearful and united against Big Bad Enemies. A bogeyman doesn't have to be real. He must just be made believable and kept alive in the psyche for as long as he is needed by his creators. When he is no longer useful, he is "killled off" to his place in the annals of time. In that sense the Orwellian "war OF terror" has also been very successful both economically and in making the U.S population afraid of its own shadow and therefore willing to give up liberty for security. The world is as it is because the larges weapons dealer on earth is calling the shots. They create fear and wars around the globe just for the purpose to sell more arms.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-03-26 10:24

    Incorrect Russia has stopped the program in terms of one of the clauses and has allocated 22 billion dollars to upgrading and ensure that the "Kremlin" anti aircraft/missile system is upgraded to the point where it can safely guard against any missile strike from any american missile base in the US or Europe. The stand off between east and west is very much alive with Russian and China both having release official statements to the fact that they will protect themselves and their trade partners even if such protection results in a third world war. The US's days in power are sorely numbered.

  • Africa21stcentury - 2012-03-26 18:03

    When it comes to Nuclear Armament, it is only the BITTER, FRUSTRATED, IGNORANT, RACISTS, who will turn this into an anti Western debate, for they got nothing more to offer than spew their HATRED. Any thinking human being, may they be Russian, American, Chinese, European, or from where ever, realizes that nuclear empowerment has nothing t do with International politics. ALL these nations are in agreement; NO FURTHER COUNTRIES !!!! END OF STORY !!!! And the ones that don't like that; GO AND SNIFF SOME GLUE !!!

      Joe - 2012-05-08 02:56

      Wrong on the racism issues You are partially right on other issues, but for all the wrong reasons :) The Korean / USA nuclear issue has been ongoing for many years. It's both predictable and funny. It works like this: The USA does not want Korea to have a nuclear program, Korea knows it. So they do something to get the USA's knickers into a twist. Talks ensue. The end result is the USA gives North Korea some special deal on certain economical issues beneficial to them. Then all is happy. This little North Korea/USA dance staret din 1945 with the end of the 2nd world war. The nuclear dimension was added in 1985. Otherise it's the same old song. Wait a few years, rinse and repeat LOL

  • pages:
  • 1