White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON – Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced that his country will convert their nuclear research reactor to using low enriched uranium as part of a global effort to secure weapons-grade nuclear materials. The plan calls for a trilateral effort on the part of Mexico, Canada and the United States to carry out the conversion, along with the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). President Obama is currently leading a 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, pressuring world leaders to introduce new measures to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons.
The threat of nuclear terrorism has been the hallmark issue for the first day and a half of the Summit. In his opening remarks, Obama called that threat one of the greatest threats to global security and said that the risk of a nuclear attack has risen. In announcing his government’s decision, Calderon indicated his shared concern for the terrorist threat.
Mexico has a “strong commitment to prevent and suppress nuclear terrorism,” said Calderon in a statement. ”With this kind of cooperation with the IAEA and our North American partners, we [will] definitely contribute to reducing the risks associated with illicit trafficking of nuclear materials.”
Both Obama and Canadian President Steven Harper have expressed their strong support for Mexico’s decision. Highly enriched uranium, which Mexico currently uses in its reactor, can be used for the creation of nuclear weapons. As part of his push to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years, Obama has levied pressure on other nations to convert their reactors to using low enriched uranium, which cannot be used for weapons.
In other news, First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden made a surprise visit to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The First Lady is currently on her first solo trip abroad, on which she plans to visit Mexico. Her visit to Haiti comes on the three-month anniversary of the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake the destroyed much of the capital city.
The White House kept her planned visit secret, only releasing the information once she had landed. During the visit, the First Lady took a helicopter tour of the capital. A White House statement said that her visit was designed to underscore the US’s commitment to rebuilding Haiti.