Remarks by President Obama at Closing Session of the Nuclear Security Summit
The World Forum
The Hague, The Netherlands
3:15 P.M. CET
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Mark. Let me begin just by saying that -- to Prime Minister Rutte and all the people here in the Netherlands who were involved in organizing this summit, you did an extraordinary job. And I think we would all agree that this was as well-designed and well-executed as any international summit that we’ve attended. And so we’re very grateful, and you’ve set a high bar for the work that needs to be done in Chicago.
Two things I want to do is, number one, just remind everybody what has been accomplished. In previous summits, as a consequence to the work that’s been done collectively, 12 countries and two dozen nuclear facilities around the world have rid themselves entirely of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium. Dozens of nations have boosted security at their nuclear storage sites; built their own counter-smuggling teams; or created new centers to improve nuclear security and training. The IAEA is stronger. More countries have ratified the treaties and international partnerships at the heart of our efforts.
And at this particular summit, we’ve seen such steps as Belgium and Italy completing the removal of their excess supplies of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium so that those supplied s can be eliminated. In a major commitment, Japan announced that it will work with the United States to eliminate hundreds of kilograms of weapons-usable nuclear material from one of their experimental reactors, which would be enough for a dozen nuclear weapons. Dozens of other nations have agreed to take specific steps towards improving nuclear security in their own countries and to support global efforts.
So what’s been valuable about this summit is that it has not just been talk, it’s been action. And that is because of the leadership that has been shown by heads of state and government -- and heads of government that have participated in this effort, as well as the extraordinary work of foreign ministers and sherpas and others who have helped to move this process forward.
I’m looking forward to hosting all of you in the United States, in 2016. We had a good discussion this afternoon about how we should conceive of this summit two years from now. The consensus, based on what I heard, was that we should recognize this next summit will be a transition summit in which heads of state and government are still participating, but that we are shifting towards a more sustainable model that utilizes our ministers, our technical people, and we are building some sort of architecture that can effectively focus and implement on these issues and supplement the good work that is being done by the IAEA and others.
So I see two tasks before us over the next two years. Number one is we have to set very clearly what are the actionable items that we’ve already identified that we know can get done if we have the political will to do them, and let’s go ahead and get them done so that in 2016 we can report out that we have made extraordinary progress and achieved many of the benchmarks and targets that we had set at the very first Nuclear Security Summit. In other words, I think it is important for us not to relax, but rather accelerate our efforts over the next two years, sustain momentum so that we finish strong in 2016. And my team will be contacting all of you to find out specific ways in which you think we can move the ball forward over the next two years.
The second thing we’ll be doing is soliciting ideas from each of you about the ultimate architecture that should be constructed to ensure that beyond 2016 we are able to keep this process alive and effective, and that we are able to sync up the efforts of the Nuclear Security Summit with existing institutions like the IAEA, Interpol, the United Nations, some of the treaties that are already in force.
All of you have important views on that, and we’re going to want to make sure that you provide them so that by the time we get to 2016 we have a well thought-out process that can be ratified at that meeting.
So I cannot thank you enough for the extraordinary efforts that all of you have already made. I cannot guarantee that the videos will be as good at the Washington conference as they’ve been here. We may not be as creative and imaginative as Mark and his team have been. But I promise you that we will continue to stay focused on this very important issue, and we look forward to your contributions in 2016 in the United States.
Thank you very much, Mark. (Applause.)
3:21 P.M. CET