In his 2009 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama declared, “[W]e must ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. This is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.” To help deal with this threat, he said the world needed “durable institutions” devoted to the problem and announced that the United States would host a global summit on nuclear security in part to address that issue.
Since the speech in Prague, there have been nuclear security summits in Washington in 2010, Seoul in 2012, and The Hague last year. Obama will host what is widely expected to be the last nuclear security summit in the United States next year. The summits and the work that precedes each of them have generated progress on a variety of issues related to diminishing the threat of nuclear terrorism. Yet, they have not produced any “durable institutions” to prevent nuclear terrorism or any clarity on how the nuclear security regime can be sustainably strengthened once the summits end.
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