U.S. President Barack Obama has opened an international nuclear summit
in Washington, saying the presence of 47 nations is an indication of
how deeply people should be concerned with nuclear security.
Mr. Obama spoke to reporters Monday just before he formally welcomed
national representatives to the gathering. The delegates, including
many heads of state, were to begin the summit with a working dinner.
Earlier Monday, the United States said Ukraine is planning to get rid
of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, which could be used to
build nuclear weapons, by 2012. The White House says the United States
will provide technical and financial assistance to support Ukraine in
Mr. Obama met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, Chinese
President Hu Jintao and other leaders for bilateral talks Monday before
the start of the two-day conference in Washington.
In talks with Jordan's King Abdullah, the White House said Mr. Obama
stressed the importance of international efforts, including sanctions,
that could pressure Iran to abide by its international obligations.
Mr. Obama and King Abdullah said they agreed on the importance of
strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and holding all
signatories accountable in fulfilling their treaty obligations.
The nuclear security summit is the largest U.S.-hosted gathering of
world leaders in more than six decades. Mr. Obama also met Monday with
the prime minister of Malaysia and the president of Armenia.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will urge the delegates to
immediately begin negotiations on a treaty to ban fissile materials for
nuclear weapons. He says he will urge leaders at the summit to convene
on the matter at the United Nations in September.
President Obama says the possibility of terrorists obtaining a nuclear
weapon is the "single biggest threat" to U.S. security. He hopes to
enlist other nations to help secure all loose nuclear materials within
North Korea, Iran and Syria, much criticized by the West for their suspected nuclear programs, were not invited to the summit.