We discuss with Princeton Professor Edward Felten the recent hacking of American companies from within China, cyberattacks more broadly, and the United States’s cybersecurity capability. Recorded March 4.
White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON – President Obama met with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao for an hour and a half on Monday during the first day of the Nuclear Security Summit. White House officials said that the two leaders spent much of their time discussing Iran’s nuclear belligerence. Iran has for years been in violation of United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 1737, which requires Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programs.
Western governments believe that Iran is developing its nuclear capabilities in order to create nuclear weapons. Tehran disputes that and claims that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful research and energy purposes. Washington wants to start a new round of UN sanctions against Iran this spring.
In previous negotiations, China, which has close economic ties with Tehran, has consistently been Iran’s staunchest supporter of, often preventing Western nations from passing stricter measures. After today’s meeting, however, China may be more willing to cooperate on sanctioning Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“They are prepared to work with us,” White House official Jeff Bader said. ”The two Presidents agreed [that] the two delegations should work together on sanctions.”
Bader is the National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs. In addition to discussing Iran, Bader confirmed that Hu and Obama talked about currency matters, though he did not disclose whether anything was agreed on relating to that topic.
The White House has recently been pressuring China to reform its monetary policy so that they no longer undervalue the yuan. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently visited Beijing to press the Chinese on their currency manipulation and the effect that has had on the US-Chinese trade imbalance.
In a gesture of kindness towards Hu Jintao, however, the White House agreed to delay its planned mid-April determination of whether the Chinese are manipulating their currency until after Hu returned from the Summit. Persuading the Chinese to back down on both sanctions against Iran and its monetary policy will likely be extremely difficult. White House officials expect, though, that China will at least be willing to compromise on Iran.
“We expect a resolution this spring, which would be a matter of weeks,” National Security Council adviser Ben Rhodes said.
The details of this resolution will likely still be highly contested. Both Beijing and Moscow have opposed the US proposal to ban new investments on Iran’s energy sector, leaving much speculation about just how much Washington and its NATO allies can push through.
White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON – Ukraine agreed today to remove its entire highly enriched uranium stockpile by the time of the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. The announcement came early on the first day of an unprecedented gathering of world leaders to discuss means of securing vulnerable nuclear materials. This year’s Nuclear Security Summit includes 47 nations and is being held Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Ukraine’s announcement came as a relief to the Obama administration, which has been pressuring participating nations to announce concrete measures to improve the security of weapons-grade nuclear materials. Ukraine currently has enough highly enriched uranium to make several nuclear bombs.
The announcement came immediately after a bilateral meeting this afternoon between Obama and President Victor Yanukovich of the Ukraine. White House officials hailed it as “a landmark decision” and praised the Ukraine’s “leadership” in securing nuclear materials.
“This is something that the United States has tried to make happen for more than ten years,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.
In order to remove the highly enriched uranium, the Ukraine will convert its civil nuclear research facilities to using low enriched uranium, which cannot be used for weapons. Plans for what to do with the removed uranium have not been finalized, but a likely outcome is that the United States will accept custody of the material. Ukraine announced that it plans to begin removing “a substantial part of those stocks” by years end.
Princeton University Professor and long-time nuclear security expert Dr. Frank von Hippel called the announcement “very good news.” ”The Ukrainians have been very ambivalent about letting go of this highly enriched uranium,” he said. ”[This is] just the kind of fall-out from the Summit that was hoped for, but uncertain.”
Chile made a similar decision to remove its significantly smaller stockpile of highly enriched uranium earlier this year. Last month it was successfully transferred in secret to the United States for secure storage.
Ukraine has a long history of pursuing nuclear non-proliferation. The former Soviet republic, along with Kazakhstan and Belarus, agreed in 1994 to remove all the left over Soviet nuclear munitions from its territory.
“Ukraine has been an international leader on disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation and a valued partner in the implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) since its historic 1994 decision,” a White House statement said.
Obama hopes for other nations to make similar announcements about steps they plan to take to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons. Yesterday, the President called nuclear terrorism the single greatest threat to national security.
“If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically, and from a security perspective would be devastating,” he said. ”We know that organizations like al Qaeda are in the process of trying to secure a nuclear weapon — a weapon of mass destruction that they have no compunction at using.”
Administration officials have stressed for the past week the need for an international consensus on the threat of nuclear terrorism. Relatively small amounts of fissile material could allow terrorists to create either a dirty bomb — a device that could contaminate an area with radioactivity — or an outright nuclear bomb. According to US intelligence sources, many terrorist organizations have been actively seeking these materials for years.
“The threat of nuclear terrorism is real, it is serious, [and] it is growing,” said John Brennan, the Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security. ”Over the past there has been indisputable evidence that dozens of terrorist groups have actively sought some type of weapon of mass effect.”
Whether other nations will listen to and take action to prevent this threat, however, remains to be seen. Obama appeared Monday afternoon, however, to remain hopeful.
“I think it (the Summit) is an impressive indication of how deeply concerned everybody should be with the possibilities of nuclear traffic,” he said. ”I think and the end of this we’re going to see some very specific, concrete actions that each nation is taking that will make the world a little bit safer.”
Today the Nuclear Security Summit gets under way. President Obama already met with King Abdullah II of Jordan here at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. No word on what they discussed, though a read-out should be available soon. Security is tighter here than I’ve ever seen it. The U.S. Army is out in force, though they appear to be unarmed. Army trucks line most of the streets and intersections stretching out for many blocks away from the Convention Center. Groups of soldiers can be seen on the street corners, along with scores of police and Secret Service. Near the Convention Center the streets are blocked off with heavy-duty black riot fencing and concrete barriers. Heavily armed Secret Service are everywhere and inside the Convention Center every area is heavily guarded. As one reporter said in the official pool report this morning, “the city is basically a police state today with so many leaders to protect.” A few protestors were seen outside the barriers, though I couldn’t make out what they were protesting because their signs were in Chinese.
Now for the real news. President Obama is currently in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mohammed Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia. Later today he will also hold bilaterals with President Victor Yanukovich of Ukraine, President Serzh Sargsian of Armenia, and President Hu Jintao of China. Yesterday he met with the leaders of India, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Pakistan and Nigeria. Below are my summaries of what was discussed at each of those meetings.
India – global development, economic infrastructure, food security, poverty reduction, Afghanistan, the Nuclear Security Summit, counterterrorism, and nuclear non-proliferation
Kazakhstan – extensive talk on nuclear safety and non-proliferation, Afghanistan, investment and trade, democracy, civil contacts between the US and Kazakhstan, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; for more details, check out the official joint statement from the meeting at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/joint-statement-meeting-between-president-obama-and-kazakhstan-president-nazarbayev
South Africa – nuclear security, South Africa’s dismantling of its nuclear weapons program, Iran, South Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, climate change and clean energy, Zimbabwe, and the 2010 World Cup
Pakistan – the April 5 terrorist attack on the US Consulate and the simultaneous attack against a political event, the March 24-25 Strategic Dialogue between the US and Pakistan, increasing Pakistani popular support for the US-Pakistani relationship, US assistance to Pakistan, and energy-sector projects in Pakistan
Nigeria – global security, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, terrorism, democracy, fighting corruption, economic development and internal conflict
The biggest news of the day was right before Obama’s meeting with President Zuma of South Africa, when he spoke to the press and gave us the sound bites needed for the evening’s newscasts and this morning’s papers. Notably, he said that “the single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short term, medium term and long term, would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon. This is something that could change the security landscape of this country and around the world for years to come. If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically, and from a security perspective would be devastating. And we know that organizations like al Qaeda are in the process of trying to secure a nuclear weapon — a weapon of mass destruction that they have no compunction at using.”
That’s all for now. Obama should be about ready to meet with President Yanukovich of the Ukraine. In about an hour, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan will hold a press briefing here at the Convention Center. I’ll update with a new post after that with the news of today. Also, quickly, Vice President Biden has been in bilateral meetings this morning and will be hosting a lunch with several world leaders at the Naval Observatory. More on that after the press briefing.
By: Walter Fick
White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON – Tomorrow marks the first day of the Nuclear Security Summit, but meetings are already planned for today as President Obama tries to reach out to other world leaders. Administration officials hail the summit as part of a global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism and secure vulnerable nuclear materials.
To kick off the Summit, Obama will hold four bilateral meetings at the Blair House today with the leaders of India, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Pakistan. A previously scheduled meeting with President Medvedev of Russia has apparently been delayed or canceled, though the White House has not yet commented on the schedule change.
On Monday, Obama will continue with at least four bilateral meeting, before individually welcoming each delegation to the Summit. Tuesday will include the main activities, such as two planner recessions with the delegations and a concluding press conference.
Obama’s officials have emphasized the need for this conference to make headway in global nuclear security. Obama has called the threat of nuclear terrorism one of his highest priorities and in the last week made two key steps towards improved nuclear security. Both the newly released Nuclear Posture Review and the new START treaty are designed to lower international tensions related to nuclear weapons. This week’s summit will draw much more focused attention on securing vulnerable nuclear materials and preparing countries to deal with the threat of a nuclear-armed terrorist.
“A nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist is a danger to people everywhere — from Moscow to New York; from the cities of Europe to South Asia,” Obama said on Thursday. ”Next week, 47 nations will come together in Washington to discuss concrete steps that can be taken to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years.”
The promise to secure nuclear materials in four years was first made by Obama last year when he visited Prague to outline his plan for the future of nuclear weapons. Getting all nations on board with the plan, however, may be extremely difficult.
Past attempts to increase security around nuclear weapons have yielded minimal fruit. Some progress has been made, by converting many highly-enriched uranium reactors to using non-weapons grade uranium, but countries have often balked at US advice on how to secure reactors and testing sites.
One potential difference will be the new role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA recently had added to its mission the role of providing assistance and guidelines on what is adequate physical security for holding nuclear materials. Dr. Amano, the head of the IAEA, will be among those in attendance at the Summit. A head-of-delegation lunch on Tuesday will also focus on the role of the IAEA and how the agency can assist countries.
“It’s very important that we try to endorse and strengthen the role of the IAEA in this area,” Gary Samore, the White House Coordinator for WMDs, Counter-Terrorism and Arms Control, said.
Administration officials hope that the Summit will get countries to the point of making firm declarations of their intentions to strengthen the security surrounding their nuclear materials. Experts, however, warn that any advances in this area will likely be modest.
For more, tune in to WPRB 103.3FM at 12:30PM today to listen to an interview with nuclear security expert and Princeton University Professor Dr. Frank von Hilden, and be sure to check out wprb.com/news for more updates.
By: Walter Fick
White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON – President Obama signed the new START Treaty on Thursday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague. The agreement expands on the limits enforced by the original START Treaty, which expired in December. The new agreement cuts the number of operationally deployable nuclear warheads down to 1,550, which is about a two-third reduction from previous levels.
The treaty also limits the number of deployable and non-deployable intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers to 800. 700 of these can be in a deployed status at any given time.
“When one surveys the many challenges that we face around the world, it is easy to grow complacent, or to abandon the notion that progress can be shared,” Obama said on Thursday. ”But I want to repeat what I said last year in Prague: When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp.”
Last week President Obama also issued a new Nuclear Posture Review. In it, he pledged for the first time that the United States would not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state. Exceptions were included, however, for rogue nations like Iran and North Korea that are in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“Those nations that follow the rules will find greater security and opportunity,” Obama said. ”Those nations that refuse to meet their obligations will be isolated, and denied the opportunity that comes with international integration.”
This week, Obama will continue with his nuclear security agenda by hosting the Nuclear Security Summit. The Summit will include 47 nations. It will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Administration officials say the primary focus will be the threat of nuclear terrorism and the need for securing vulnerable nuclear materials.
To gain further insight on these matters, WPRB News sat down with Dr. Frank von Hippel. Von Hippel is a Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Co-Director of the Program on Science and Global Security. He has over thirty years experience specializing in nuclear security, nuclear arms control and nuclear nonproliferation. A portion of his interview was broadcast as a Special Report on Sunday, April 11.
This week, we talk with the commander of United States Central Command General David Petraeus about military issues in the Middle East, from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to drones, to cybersecurity. Gen. Petraeus is the 2010 recipient of Princeton’s James Madison Medal, the highest honor conferred upon a Princeton graduate alumnus. Nick Tagher and Naomi Nix are the co-hosts for this episode. Nikki Leon is the executive producer. Andrew Saraf contributed research.
Web Extra: Aaron Smargon interviews General Petraeus about his Princeton dissertation and ROTC.
Recorded on February 20, 2010
On December 8, 2009, Mr. C. H. Tung, former Chief Executive of Hong Kong gave a speech entitled “United States-China Relations: What’s Next?” at the nearby Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Here’s an audio archive of the speech.
(Recorded by Rosy Yang)
Tune in now (12pm-1pm EST) to hear The Dispatch: Voices on Same Sex Marriage, Part II
This week, Naomi Nix takes a look at the first same-sex commitment ceremony performed in the University Chapel. Scholars Stephen Macedo and Robert George share their thoughts on the issue. And WPRB Contributor Connor Carreras sits down with lawyers on both sides of Perry v Schwarzenegger, a case challenging California’s voter-instituted ban on same-sex marriage that is set to go before a US District Court in January 2010.
Creative Commons Licensed music from Evgeny Grinko, The Family Simpson, and Learning Music.
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This week, WPRB News is airing a two-part series Oct 25 and Nov 1. The Dispatch: Voices on Same Sex Marriage takes taking a look at how different groups have engaged the issue of gay unions. This week, Leif Johnson explores what happens when a University is asked to take a political stance, Sophie Jin visits a march in Washington DC, and historian Neil J. Young explains how one particular religious denomination, the Church of Latter Day Saints, became involved in the passage of California Proposition 8 last year.
CC-Licensed music from Evgeny Grinko, Learning Music, Sagan, Bomba Estereo.