March 27th, 2012
09:06 AM ET

Roundup: World leaders vow to confront nuclear threats

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Fifty-three world leaders pledged to jointly combat the global nuclear terrorism threat at the end of a two-day nuclear summit in Seoul, South Korea. The leaders vowed to pursue nuclear disarmament and combat nuclear proliferation, while supporting "peaceful uses of nuclear energy" (al-Jazeera). Concerns over a planned North Korean rocket launch for next month dominated the summit, prompting international condemnation. U.S. President Barack Obama, who called for a "world without nuclear weapons," met with Russian and Chinese leaders to discuss Iran's nuclear program, which the West contends is for manufacturing weapons.

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Analysis

"Since his Prague speech on nuclear disarmament in 2009, [Obama] has shifted attitudes both in the United States and internationally, changing the context in which these issues are debated. He moved things further on in South Korea by stating more forthrightly than he has in the past that the United States has more nuclear weapons than it needs," says this Guardian editorial.

"On the one hand, states such as Iran and North Korea must not develop nuclear arsenals. On the other hand, the established nuclear powers–such as the U.S., Russia and China–must make deep cuts in stockpiles. Only by making such cuts can they retain the moral right to demand that others refrain from building nuclear bombs," says this Financial Times editorial.

"Some of the warnings about nuclear terrorism in the wake of 9/11 were overdone; a lot of the claims that we would face a fifty-fifty chance of an attack were rhetorical flourishes at best, and there are a lot of reasons to believe that pulling off a nuclear attack is more difficult and less attractive than a lot of people thought. But that doesn't mean that it isn't a real risk," says CFR's Michael A. Levi in this CFR Interview.

PACIFIC RIM

North Korea Confirms Satellite Launch

North Korea confirmed Tuesday it will move ahead with a planned satellite launch for next month, despite a U.S. threat to revoke food aid (NYT). North Korea insisted its satellite launch would be for "peaceful purposes," while calling U.S. President Barack Obama "confrontational."

This CFR Crisis Guide provides an interactive overview of the dispute between North and South Korea.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan's Gilani Meets With Obama

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and U.S. President Barack Obama met on the sidelines of the Seoul nuclear summit, the highest-level meeting between the two countries since U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year. Obama called for a "balanced approach" to U.S.-Pakistani relations (CNN).

AFGHANISTAN: U.S. support for the war in Afghanistan has dropped (CBS) significantly, with only 23 percent of Americans in support of the U.S. strategy there, a CBS News-New York Times poll shows.

This CFR Timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.

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MIDDLE EAST

Annan Courts China Over Syria Peace Plan

The joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, is in China to garner support for his peace plan to end ongoing violence in Syria. The visit came as Syrian security forces continued to shell the central city of Homs (al-Jazeera), which emerged as an opposition stronghold over the past year.

Middle East expert Joshua Landis discusses the fault lines in the Syria uprising in this CFR Interview.

ISRAEL: The government suspended ties with the UN Human Rights Council (BBC) after it launched an investigation over Israeli settlements in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank.

AFRICA

Sudan Suspends Summit With South

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir cancelled an upcoming summit with his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, following deadly clashes between ground troops along the countries' shared border. Sudan reportedly launched air strikes targeting the South's oil fields today (AFP).

MALI: The U.S. suspended military aid to Mali (M&G) yesterday, days after mutinous soldiers launched a coup that forced President Amadou Touré from power. Touré was considered a stalwart U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

EUROPE

Merkel Supports Limited Boost to Bailout Funds

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would support increasing the capacity of the eurozone's bailout mechanism (WSJ) to around €700 billion, or $929 billion, short of the combined €1 trillion fund supported by the European Commission.

The eurozone is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

FRANCE: Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was forced to resign in the wake of a sex scandal in New York last year, was put under formal investigation for his alleged involvement with a prostitution ring in Lille (Telegraph).

AMERICAS

Obama Addresses Missile Defense Impasse With Russia

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the United States and Russia would not be able to resolve an impasse over a planned U.S missile defense system (NYT) in Europe during the U.S. presidential election season. The announcement came a day after Obama asked outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to give him "space" over the issue.

CUBA: Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Santiago (AP) yesterday, where he was greeted by Cuban President Raul Castro in the first papal visit to the country since 1998. Benedict, who travels to Havana today, said he supported the "legitimate desires of all Cubans."

Under President Raul Castro, Cuba has begun economic and political reforms while bolstering ties with the Vatican, explains CFR's Julia E. Sweig in this CFR Interview.

CAMPAIGN 2012

U.S. Voters Still Support Nuclear Power

Amid a barrage of election-year talk about domestic energy resources and one year after the failure of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, a majority of U.S. voters continue to favor nuclear energy, according to a Gallup poll. At a university in South Korea Monday, President Barack Obama touted the resurgence of the U.S. nuclear energy industry as part of his plan to develop alternative energy sources.

As the U. S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the Affordable Health Care Act this week, voters are split on their opinion of the law, according to a Pew Research poll. GOP candidate Mitt Romney criticized the law for what he says is part of a pattern of over-regulation (WashPo) by the federal government that hurts business and jobs.

Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Nuclear

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Both Pakistan's Gilani and Obama need an end of the deadlock and a solution to the dispute over transit goods for the ISAF in Afghanistan.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • krm1007

      The right question is which other country/s can step to the plate to help solve the problem. Yes, the solution is to send them through Russia......simple....they created the problem and they need to solve it also. Also, India needs to quit supporitng the terrorists in Afghanistan. They are the biggest beneficiaries of this conflict that American taxpayers and Pakistanis have paid for. Pakistan cannot be expected to sacrifice blood, guts and money for the benefit of the world without any returns. Not gonna happen anymore. Take that to the bank.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Today a Cuban can both be a Catholic and a Communist!

    March 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Reply
    • Lionel Mandrake

      Really? Can you justify this statement?

      March 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  3. George Patton

    The right-wing thugs in Washington still haven't as much as one single shred of evidence that Iran is planning to build any kind of nuclear weapons! The problem is that they think that they're too good to talk to the Iranians about it as it looks like they want to start another war. The Iranians, like South Africa and Brazil have a right to develope nuclear energy for peaceful purposes!

    March 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • Achil

      On the subject of murtuciltulalism if it is possible to have a successful, well integrated, multicultural society then it would already have happened. As for his final comments, I agree. As good as the U.S. military is, America should stick with what it's really good at; technology development. Using the Army to affect the course of other nations just doesn't pump water in the bucket anymore. If you know what I mean.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  4. 100% ETHIO

    It's proven that which Country in the World, could stand on its own feet, without assistance of any Countries, either Weaponry or Financially or both.

    Can we test the Jewish State? By stopped all kinds of financial and Weapons assistance, that come from:

    1) U.S.A = $3 Billions other financial Weapons and components American who were killed by Jewish and still ready to sacrifice American lives by defending the Jewish legal exceptions,

    2) Germany = $??? Billions Holocaust benefits Weapons and High-Tech,

    3) Poland = $???? Legal exception,

    4) Swiss Bank = $???? Other benefits,

    5) Britain = $???Billions Weaponry British Soldiers who died and ready to die by defending the Jewish State,

    6)...and some other Countries who are being forced and convinced mainly by America and British to support the Jewish, either financially, Weaponry, legally,...

    So, who is smart????

    March 28, 2012 at 8:13 am | Reply
  5. 100% ETHIO

    Can you name any Country or Countries, who could stand by its own feet, without any kinds of assistance from other Countries????????????

    March 28, 2012 at 8:19 am | Reply
  6. krm1007

    The leaders of today are unable to solve the problems of today that will haunt tomorrow. Palestine, Kashmir, nuclear issues, diseases, extremism, poverty, illiteracy, linger on and on and on. Talk Talk talk.....no action....no solutions!!! Pathetic. This cannot go on forever.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  7. Lionel Mandrake

    Wow! that is so deep!
    "The leaders of today are unable to solve the problems of today that will haunt tomorrow'.
    Any suggestions instead of bashing Americans and trying to sow dissent–as is in your muslim ways.
    Bukhari:V7B67N427 "The Prophet said, 'If I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.'"

    March 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply

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