THE HAGUE, Netherlands — President Barack Obama hailed a “fundamental shift” in international efforts to fight nuclear terrorism as 35 countries pledged Tuesday to turn guidelines on nuclear security into national laws.
At the close of a two-day summit, the group also agreed to open up their security procedures to independent review, a further step toward creating an international legal framework to thwart nuclear terrorism.
The move is a joint initiative sponsored by host country the Netherlands, along with past summit hosts the United States and South Korea.
“I believe this is essential to the security of the entire world,” Obama said at a press conference wrapping up the summit.
He added that more still needs to be done: “Given the catastrophic consequences of even a single attack, we cannot be complacent.”
All 53 countries that participated in the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague agreed Tuesday to keep looking for ways to ensure that nuclear material doesn’t fall into the hands of terrorists.
But the pledge to adopt nuclear guidelines into law and undergo external checks was endorsed by just 35 nations, including France, Britain, Canada, Japan, Israel. Notably absent from that agreement were Russia, China, India and Pakistan. North Korea and Iran didn’t even attend.
“We need to get the rest of the summit members to sign up to it, especially Russia, and we need to find a way to make this into permanent international law,” said Miles Pomper of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
Speaking to The Associated Press after the summit, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the number who signed up was beyond his expectations and he expects more nations to sign up in coming days.
“This is a process of a big fleet of ships ... — 53 countries, four international organizations,” he said. “We have agreed to a very ambitious communique and at the same time we have a part of this fleet which is even wanting to go further and is inviting the others to join them. “