Duyeon Kim and I have a new piece in the World Politics Review on the status of the goal to secure all nuclear material in four years. Here’s how we lead off:
In his April 2009 Prague speech, President Barack Obama ambitiously pledged to “secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.” The goal is driven by the need to ensure that terrorists never obtain a nuclear weapon or materials usable for a nuclear device, and its urgency cannot be overstated.
Twenty countries are believed to possess bomb-grade nuclear material that is not secure. While fissile material security is usually associated with developing countries, developed countries such as the U.S. must also take additional steps to safeguard their own nuclear materials. What’s more, despite a myriad of national laws and international agreements, there is no universal standard for how safe and secure nuclear materials need to be.
Significant progress has been made since the president’s Prague speech. In September 2009, Obama chaired a special U.N. Security Council session on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, which endorsed a four-year timeframe for securing vulnerable nuclear material.
However, the administration’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request did not reflect the urgency of the threat. The overall request for threat reduction was less than that appropriated by Congress in FY 2009.
Though the drive to secure loose nuclear materials nevertheless gained momentum in 2010, even greater international financial and political support will be required to meet the four-year deadline.
Read the whole thing here.