ABC News' Vija Udenans reports: President Obama hosts 47 leaders of foreign countries at a two-day Nuclear Security Summit this week in Washington.
He says terrorist organizations are looking to get nuclear weapons and if Al-Qaida acquired a weapon of mass destruction, “they would have no compunction at using it.”
His central focus with the summit is to avert “the single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short term, medium term and long term" — the "possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon."
The president warns that a detonation “in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg” could have devastating “ramifications economically, politically, and from a security perspective,” and “could change the security landscape of this country and around the world for years to come.”
President Obama spent most of Sunday meeting one-on-one with world leaders. India’s Prime Minister Singh was the first to meet the president at Blair House to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and nuclear security .
Later Obama met with Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan – India’s nuclear armed neighbor and bitter enemy. Before departing for the United States, PM Gilani told reporters that the Pakistani weapons are secure and in “safe hands”.
Secretary Hilary Clinton and National Security Adviser Jim Jones joined in the discussions with the foreign leaders.
President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan spent an hour with President Obama where he heard praise from Obama for being a “model leader”. By Kazakhstan giving up nuclear weapons, they received security assurances from all the countries in the region. The United State is currently working with Kazakhstan to decommission a nuclear reactor.
Obama praised South Africa during his meeting with President Zuma, for dismantling its nuclear program and becoming a “moral leader” in the international community in non proliferation issues.
The president reflected that he felt good about the sense of commitment and sense of urgency that he had seen from the gathering world leaders. Earlier in the week he himself had traveled to Prague to sign the START treaty with Russia.
Obama shared his concern that “there is a lot of loose nuclear material around the world. And so the central focus for this summit is getting the international community on the path in which we are locking down that nuclear material in a very specific time frame with a specific work plan.”
The White House expects to generate a communiqué out of this summit that will address the pursuit of securing vulnerable nuclear material from around the world in the next four years, as well as a work plan for the international community to pursue that goal. This would raise the level of awareness and attention to the global danger of nuclear terrorism.