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Summit Aims to Reduce the Risk of Nuclear Terrorism

Advancing Nuclear Security

Speaker: Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Special Assistant to the President, White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Arms Control
Presider: Robert L. Gallucci, President, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Former Dean, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
March 17, 2014

Event Description

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a top adviser to President Obama on defense and nuclear issues, joins Robert Gallucci of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to discuss the upcoming third Nuclear Security Summit, to be held in The Hague. Sherwood-Randall credits these summits with focusing attention on the importance of securing nuclear material in order to counter the threat of terrorism. She says that the summit provides a venue for the sharing of best practices and creates positive peer pressure for states to do more.

Event Highlights

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall on how the Nuclear Security Summits are promoting progress on nuclear security issues:

"[S]ummits are action-forcing events, and essentially leaders, as those of you who worked in government know, are motivated to be proud in front of their peers of what they've accomplished, and that pressure to look good, that peer pressure, literally is what motivates states to act. And we have been able, as a result of the summit process, to get countries to step forward and do far more than they would ever do without the pressure of a summit, where leaders will sit around the table and present in front of one another what they have achieved."

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall on the impact of the crisis in Ukraine and the resulting tensions between the United States and Russia on nuclear security cooperation:

"[W]e do expect the Russians to continue the important work that we do with them in this context unabated. And I'll just note that the deputy defense minister stated over the weekend, I believe it was -- might have been earlier than that -- that the Russians fully intend to fulfill their commitments under New START, which we had indicated was very important, and there should be no pause, and we have a lot of work underway behind the scenes on nuclear security with the Russians at a technical level between our experts, which we expect will proceed forward."

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall on the prospects for a nuclear deal with Iran:

"I wouldn't take a bet on it. The president said 50/50 when he last spoke publicly about this, but we have the best chance we have had ever because of the intensive sanctions that have really caused very great discomfort on the part of the Iranian people, which I think is what led to the election of a new leader who has indicated he wants to have a serious discussion."

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