World leaders have praised efforts to promote nuclear security following an international summit in Washington. They cautioned, however, that there remained the threat of terrorists who seek to steal nuclear bombs.
In a press conference to wrap up the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington on Friday, US President Barack Obama warned that "mad men" from groups like al-Qaida and "Islamic State" (IS) have long sought nuclear weapons. Should this technology fall into the wrong hands, Obama said it would "change our world."
Obama addressed the conference, speaking to the press and representatives of more than 50 nations on a range of issues related to nuclear security. The topics included the recent deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program, reducing Washington's atomic arsenal and some tangentially related problems such as US drone strikes and worrying trends threatening the free press in Turkey.
"So long as Iran is carrying out its end of the bargain, we think it is important for the world community to carry out our end of the bargain," Obama told the conference, adding that "what I would say is also important is Iran's own behavior in generating confidence that Iran is a safe place to do business."
Drone strike critics
Obama then turned to some criticism of US security strategy, admitting that criticism of the country's large drone program was in some parts "legitimate."
"There has been, in the past, legitimate criticism that the legal architecture around the use of drone strikes or other kinetic strength was not as precise as it should have been, and there is no doubt that civilians were killed that should not have been," Obama told reporters.
Criticism for Erdogan and Putin
Obama also spoke about the crackdown on the free press in Turkey, a nation allied with the US and crucial to the fight against IS. The president said he had urged his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to abandon his strategy of repression. Despite this, however, the US would stand by its friend in the face of encroaching terrorism, Obama added.
The US leader also had some choice words for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did not attend the summit. As the head of the nation with the world's largest repository of nuclear material, Obama said Putin's absence was keenly felt. Saying that Putin had put aside hard-fought nuclear disarmament in order to increase "military might," Obama contrasted Moscow's approach with his own.
"My preference would be to bring down further our nuclear arsenal," Obama said.
Wrapping up the press conference, President Obama said that the international community had made "significant, meaningful" progress but that world leaders' work to hinder further nuclear attacks and proliferation was "by no means finished."
es/jm (AP, AFP)