April 13, 2010 / 7:08 PM / 7 years ago

Lofty goals set out at nuclear summit

<p>U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at Blair House in Washington April 11, 2010. Gilani is in town for this week's nuclear security summit. REUTERS/Richard Clement</p>

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of 47 nations set themselves some lofty goals for keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. The hard part will be fulfilling them.

Following are some key issues that emerge from the two-day Washington nuclear security summit’s final communique, which was obtained by Reuters reporters:

* The document calls on the 47 nations to join together with a single-minded purpose: to prevent “non-state actors” -- think al Qaeda or its allied groups -- from obtaining nuclear technology or materials.

This would require a level of cooperation that seems unprecedented, including among some countries who do not have a history of getting along with each other.

For example, the communique calls on all states to work cooperatively “as an international community to advance nuclear security, requesting and providing assistance as necessary.”

Will the Saudis, the Jordanians or the Algerians, who are attending the summit, agree to provide assistance or information to the Israelis, who are also participants, as the document implies?

In the same vein, would the Indians and Pakistanis agree to share nuclear information? Both developed nuclear weapons as a deterrent against each other.

* While the summit nations pledge to clamp down on “non-state actors,” they do not forbid each other from developing a peaceful nuclear program for electric power generation.

Participants should implement “strong nuclear practices that will not infringe upon the rights of states to develop and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” the communique said.

That is an important point. Many nations do not necessarily want nuclear weapons but would like to generate electricity through atomic power and feel the developed world has been trying to keep them from it.

The difficulties in this position are embodied in Iran, which says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The United States and other western countries, on the other hand, believe it is a cover for producing nuclear weapons and are aggressively pursuing new U.N. sanctions to stop it.

* Summit nations agreed to hold their next such summit in South Korea in 2012. That takes the leaders close to ground zero of one of the world’s most difficult nuclear challenges -- getting control over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Writing by Steve Holland; editing by David Storey

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