As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama asserted that the most immediate and extreme threat to national security was that posed by a terrorist organization acquiring a nuclear weapon. As president, he pledged to mitigate that potentiality by securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. Simultaneously, Obama pursued a high-profile nonproliferation and arms control strategy that, despite an intensive investment of political capital, has enjoyed only halting progress. Nuclear reduction negotiations with Russia have stalled. Prospects for multilateral treaties governing nuclear tests and the production of nuclear bomb fuel are distant possibilities at best. Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea march steadily forward with their own enrichment and, in the case of Pyongyang, nuclear testing programs, creating associated proliferation risks. Meanwhile, on Obama’s all important four-year goal, initial ebullience has given way to skepticism and plodding progress, most recently illustrated last month by the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.
Read the full article in World Politics Review here.