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John J. Kruzel - American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2010 - The international summit on nuclear security is an opportunity to draw greater attention to the issues of nuclear nonproliferation and the control of nuclear material, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
The opening of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit, which convenes leaders of more than 40 countries here, today comes on the heels of the unveiling of the Nuclear Posture Review, a Defense Department-led effort that represents the first overarching look at U.S. nuclear strategy since the end of the Cold War.
"One of the things that makes the nuclear posture review different than its predecessors is the priority that it has given to preventing nuclear proliferation and getting better control of nuclear materials around the world," Gates told Pentagon reporters today. "And that is precisely the agenda for the nuclear security conference."
Gates said the summit places emphasis on putting into practice relevant nuclear agreements that have already been forged, and seeking new ways improve nuclear security.
"It is an area that people talk about a lot, but frankly, there hasn't been the kind of concerted international attention in these two areas that there might have been," he said. "So I think it creates some real opportunities." Appearing alongside Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on CBS' "Face the Nation" yesterday, Gates called it an "extraordinary achievement" to bring together 46 world leaders to discuss nuclear security issues.
Clinton said the goal of the summit would be to gain broader agreement on nuclear security issues in hopes of making nuclear materials less vulnerable to theft or misuse.
"We are seeking to get agreement and a work plan about how each country will do its best to better secure the nuclear material that it has within its borders to prevent the transit of nuclear material," she said.
Gates added that issues of nonproliferation and of gaining control of nuclear materials around the world represent the "key front-end piece" of the Nuclear Posture Review, which was unveiled last week during a Pentagon briefing.
The review articulates a roadmap for cutting the American nuclear arsenal, edging the country toward President Barack Obama's stated long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, and ceases U.S. testing of nuclear weapons and the development of new nuclear weapons platforms.
It culminates a year of efforts involving top interagency officials, and it codifies the new U.S. nuclear stance, which includes a policy to not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state, even if the state attacks with chemical and biological weapons.