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Nuclear Security Summit Must Take Concrete Steps to Eliminate the Nuclear Threat

MADRE welcomes President Obama's initiative to convene today's Nuclear Security Summit. As 47 nations gather in Washington, DC for the summit, MADRE joins other organizations calling for a concerted move towards a safer world free of the threat of nuclear weapons. The stated goal of today's summit is to safeguard against nuclear terrorism, a goal that must go hand-in-hand with the overall reduction of the world's nuclear arsenal.

President Obama has pledged to move towards a nuclear weapons-free world, and the Obama Administration has recently taken important steps to reduce the danger of nuclear war, negotiating an agreement with Russia to get rid of "excess" weapons-grade plutonium. Other countries, like Canada and the Ukraine, have said that they will work to convert nuclear reactors to low-enriched uranium, a material not used in bombs.

These steps, while laudable, only go part of the way. This week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed dismay over the stagnating proposals for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, despite progress in Central Asia. This comes just days after an announcement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not attend the summit, suggesting that he is avoiding scrutiny regarding Israel's store of nuclear weapons.

To eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons, we must do away with a double standard that focuses attention on some states like Iran and North Korea while ignoring others. As the country that first unleashed nuclear weapons on the world, the US has a historical responsibility to take positive steps.

April 13, 2010