WASHINGTON, DC – The Nuclear Security Summit process, which concluded earlier this month in Washington, DC, shows what can be achieved when political leaders come together to concentrate on a global problem. The six-year initiative, focused on preventing nuclear terrorism, produced important outcomes on eliminating, minimizing, and securing dangerous nuclear and radiological materials.
Unfortunately, however, the nuclear threat is still far from being neutralized. The dangers posed by terrorist groups are growing, as are the risks from competition and conflict between nuclear-armed states. Strong leadership and global cooperation must also be deployed to address other urgent nuclear dangers, particularly the threat of further testing and proliferation of weapons.
There are few bright signs on the horizon. On the contrary, almost every nuclear-armed state is either expanding or upgrading its nuclear arsenal. There are no active negotiations to regulate, cap, or further reduce nuclear stockpiles.
Russia and the United States have each deployed more than 1,800 strategic warheads on several hundred submarines, bombers, and missiles – far more than is necessary to deter a nuclear attack. Many of these weapons can be launched within minutes, increasing the risk of miscalculation. Meanwhile, North Korea could soon be able to arm ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, a development that would pose a significant threat to all of Asia.