The massive, high profile Nuclear Security Summit in Washington today appears to be devolving rather rapidly into the fear-mongering over hypothetical nuclear threats, with President Obama declaring that America’s biggest threat in the short, medium and long-terms was “the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
President Obama declared today that “we know” al-Qaeda is trying to obtain nuclear weapons, and that they “would have no compunction at using them.” The allegation is hardly new, of course, and fretting about “loose nukes” has been a popular topic of discussion whenever foreign aid or domestic budgets come up for debate.
But while a solid decade of this hand-wringing about al-Qaeda’s hypothetical nukes has revealed no new evidence that they are any nearer to realizing this ambition, though analysts warn that it is “plausible” that al-Qaeda or some other terrorist group will eventually nuke something at some point in the future.
Which is hardly a cause for the sudden call to action, of course. Rather it seems the real goal is to find something for the summit to focus on that isn’t too uncomfortable. The Administration’s ambitious goal to secure every last bit of weapons-grade nuclear material already saw Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceling his visit over fears that the complete lack of transparency in Israel’s program would be brought up, and several other nuclear nations seem to have similar concerns.
In the end the summit will net some pledges from nations like Chile and the Ukraine, but the defaulting back to the “safe” issue of al-Qaeda’s hypothetical future nukes will ensure that no major changes are made.