Barack Obama issued a dire warning to world leaders during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on Friday.
The meeting, comprised of over 50 world leaders, was hailed as a success by those who attended, who commended the United States and its allies for keeping nuclear weapons and other globally lethal materials out of the hands of terrorists. However, the president said groups like the Islamic State still pose a real threat in this capacity.
“I’m the first to acknowledge the great deal of work that remains,” President Obama said. “But we’ve begun.”
Global terror has once again become a main focus for world leaders as militant activity in both the Middle East and in Europe has increased.
During this year’s summit, leaders voiced concern over recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, and grappled with the notion of a future attack involving a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb.
“There is no doubt that if these madmen ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material they most certainly would use it to kill as many innocent people as possible,” the president added.
Terrorist groups like the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda have so far been limited to ground attacks. However, President Obama noted both groups have tried to pursue nuclear capabilities in the past.
World leaders convening in Washington for the summit expressed concern about North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and Russia’s lack of attendance. Mr Obama expressed concern that Russia has been building up its military at the expense of nuclear arms reductions.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, President Obama on Friday gave a critical response to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s recent remarks about nuclear weaponry…Trump this week said that Japan and South Korea might have to acquire their own nuclear weapons. In a separate incident this week, he refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe if elected president.
Mr. Obama has not hesitated to criticize Mr. Trump for contributing to a coarse tone and circuslike atmosphere on the campaign trail. But his criticism of the candidate’s comments on nuclear proliferation was not about public language or personal style, but about one of the gravest responsibilities of an American president.
So far, no terrorists have obtained a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb, Obama said, crediting global efforts to secure nuclear material. But he said it wasn’t for lack of the terrorists trying.
During the Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama also took aim at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, criticizing the business tycoon for his recently stated nuclear policy.
The president did not mention Trump by name, however directly referenced his recent refusal to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe if elected president, and that Japan and South Korea would have to procure their own nuclear arsenal.
“The person who made the statements doesn’t know much about foreign policy, or nuclear policy, or the Korean Peninsula, or the world generally,” the president said.
“People pay attention to American elections,” he added. “What we do is really important to the rest of the world. Even those countries that are used to a carnival atmosphere in their own politics want sobriety and clarity when it comes to U.S. elections because they understand the president of the United States needs to know what’s going on around the world and has to put in place policies that not only lead to our security and prosperity but will have an impact on everybody else’s security and prosperity.”