President Obama hosted the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit on March 31-April 1, 2016. The summit produced important achievements but also left gaps in the global nuclear security system unaddressed.
Perhaps the most significant outcome of the summit was agreement on two ways to sustain momentum and progress on nuclear security after the summits.
First, 39 countries agreed to establish a “Nuclear Security Contact Group” to meet annually on the margins of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference to track implementation of summit commitments, discuss nuclear security-related issues, and build a strengthened nuclear security architecture. This Contact Group will be a vital bridge beyond the summits to sustain progress and makes it clear that countries recognize that the job of securing and eliminating nuclear materials is not yet finished.
Second, countries also agreed to advocate for an institutionalized, regular mechanism for long-term progress through a key international treaty—the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM). At the summit, President Obama announced that a key amendment to the CPPNM will soon enter into force, triggering a mandatory meeting in five years. The CPPNM also allows parties to request additional review conferences at intervals of five years or more, which NTI has recently advocated in Arms Control Today. In an “Action Plan” designed to strengthen the IAEA, countries supported this idea by agreeing to advocate for regular CPPNM review conferences.
Other key achievements:
downblended its last remaining highly enriched uranium (HEU), making the Latin
America and Caribbean region HEU free.
United States and Japan completed the removal of over 500 kg of HEU and
plutonium from Japan’s Fast Critical Assembly, which is the largest materials
removal effort of the entire summit process.
countries agreed to a comprehensive plan to minimize and eventually eliminate
all civilian HEU.
Twenty-eight countries agreed to steps to strengthen the security of dangerous radiological sources, drawing on recommendations from NTI’s recently released Radiological Security Progress Report.
Despite these and other achievements, there is still no effective global system for securing all nuclear materials. Such a system would cover all weapons-usable nuclear materials, including those that are “military materials,” and would ensure that all states follow common international standards and best practices, and take reassuring actions to build confidence in the security of their materials. Most disappointing, the summits left unaddressed the 83% of global stocks of HEU and plutonium that are “military materials” and outside of existing international mechanisms. Except for statements by the United States and the United Kingdom on measures they are taking to secure their military materials, none of the other summit outcomes addressed this military materials gap.
For more analysis and resources from NTI and our partners related to the Nuclear Security Summit and the need for a global system, see the following:
- Statement of Former Senator Sam Nunn,
NTI Co-Chairman, on Entry Into Force of Key Nuclear Security Treaty.
- NTI Nuclear Security Summit Wrap-Up Blog.
- Joan Rohlfing, “Let’s Get Serious About Nuclear
Security,” Huffington Post.
- Samantha Pitts-Kiefer, “Index Results Highlight Need for Path
Forward After Summits End,” Nuclear Security Matters, Belfer
Center for Science and International Affairs.
- Joan Rohlfing, Samantha Pitts-Kiefer,
and Andrew Bieniawski, “Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security
Priorities: Building an Effective Global Nuclear Security System.”
- Bernard Norlain, David Owen, Paul
Quilès, and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, “The Fight Against Nuclear Terrorism,” European Leadership Network.
- Ramesh Thakur, “Taking Stock of the Final Nuclear
Security Summit,” Japan Times.
- NTI Nuclear Security Index translations are now available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and