NSS failed to realise Obama’s nuke-free goals: Chinese experts

Beijing, April 2 (IANS) After two days of discussions, the Fourth Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) concluded in Washington DC, adopting an action plan to safeguard nuclear security, especially to prevent terrorists from obtaining and using a nuclear weapon.

While progress has been made, the NSS, initiated by US President Barack Obama in 2010, failed to achieve his ambitious goal of “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”, Xinhua reported about the summit which ended on Friday.

Compared with the situation in 2010, the world “only seems farther from” the nuclear-weapons-free goal, the report said citing CNN.

In a Washington Post op-ed, the president himself said: “Achieving the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons will not happen quickly, perhaps not in my lifetime.”

The NSS is unable to realise Obama’s nuke-free vision not because it is a bad idea itself, but because the US is losing its global leadership in non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament due to a series of domestic and external challenges, Chinese experts said.

First of all, it is really hard for the Obama administration to achieve a consensus on a reduction of the use of nuclear materials or a large-scale nuclear disarmament plan with the arms industry or the Democratic and the Republican parties, said Diao Daming, an expert on the US politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“The war hawks worry that a unilateral cut in the US nuclear weapons would undermine the country’s capability to respond to emergencies and unexpected threats. This shows distrust in other nuclear powers as well as a cold war mentality,” said Diao.

The Republicans and some Democrats also disapprove of the way Obama handled the Iran nuclear issue, though the recently brokered deal has won broad support in the international community, he added.

Wu Xinbo, vice dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai-based Fudan University, echoed Diao’s opinion, saying that many hindrances at home have made the “nuke-free world” look like “a utopian vision for Obama himself”.

“For the NSS or any other similar initiative it is hard to generate a concrete outcome because the US military simply won’t accept any large-scale reduction in nuclear weapons,” said Wu.

The exercise of double standards for nuclear security is another factor undermining Obama’s nuke-free pursuit, experts said.

“For example, the US has tacitly acknowledged India as a nuclear weapons state while holding a tougher stance toward other countries such as Pakistan,” said Jin Canrong, vice dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.

This may cause certain countries to doubt the meaning of nuclear non-proliferation and eventually refuse to accept it, Jin added.

Zhu Xuhui, a senior Chinese nuclear expert, pointed to the fact that Japan, the largest US ally in Asia, has stored more than 47 metric tonnes of weapons-usable plutonium — enough to build over 6,000 atomic bombs and vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes and theft by terrorists.

“This is a serious problem that can increase the risk of nuclear terrorism, and the US should not just sit by and do nothing,” Zhu said.

Russia’s absence from the just-concluded NSS, yet another proof of the lingering tensions between Moscow and Washington, also indicated that the global nuclear disarmament efforts are somewhat losing steam, experts said.

They suggested the US lay aside political differences and show greater sincerity in international cooperation on nuclear security and non-proliferation.

“To achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world, major powers should first enhance mutual trust. The US should work with Russia to properly handle differences in other areas, while joining hands for the nuclear security of the world,” said Diao.

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