WASHINGTON – The Obama administration convened a landmark Nuclear
Security Summit on Tuesday aimed at preventing nuclear material from
reaching terrorists, as well as sending a message to Iran that it faced
an international community increasingly united in opposition to its
As 47 nations gathered to support and offer
concrete steps in securing nuclear material, and were set to issue a
communiqué outlining their shared vision later on Tuesday, US President
Barack Obama also used his bilateral meetings to push for consensus on
pressuring Teheran. China, for one, gave some signs of moving toward
the American position following its meeting with the president ahead of
the summit opening.
“This conference, while clearly not being
about Iran, demonstrates how isolated Iran actually is, when you have
47 countries represented here, all of whom are committed to abiding by
their international obligations,” a senior administration official told
The Jerusalem Post
. “It sends a very clear message to countries like
Iran that this is the future, this is the world order that everyone
wants to see.”
He added, “They have had an opportunity to
follow through with meeting their international obligations but have
created considerable doubt about the peaceful intent of their nuclear
program and therefore are going to be facing increasing international
The head of the Israeli delegation, Intelligence
Agencies Minister and Minister for Atomic Affairs Dan Meridor, told the
that “Iran is at the back of the minds of many of the people here.
It’s not the issue that we’re dealing with, but Iran is here in
thinking, Iran is mentioned from time to time.”
He added, “The
only game in town is Iran-US. Who wins, who loses. We need America and
its allies to win, or else the world order changes. It’s a grievous
development. It’s not good. I think it’s clear to most people here.”
who is also deputy prime minister, is representing Israel in the
conference after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu canceled suddenly on
Israeli officials were quoted at the time as saying he
pulled out over concerns that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other
Muslim countries would seek to make an issue of Israel’s widely
reported but undeclared nuclear arsenal and urge that it sign the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But Meridor, who denied that
there were concerns on this front, said that with mere hours left in
the conference, the subject of Israel’s nuclear capabilities hadn’t
been raised during the speeches made by delegates.
attacked us. We’re part of the international community. We’re dealing
with an important issue of securing the international community against
nuclear terrorism. We are a country that has something to say on this
issue,” he said. “In the meeting with the president, in the meetings
with other people, speaking here, listening here, the atmosphere is
At the conclusion of the conference, however,
Saudi Arabia released its written statement for the record with
language than included criticism of Israel.
of nuclear weapons constitutes a fundamental obstacle to the
achievement of security and stability in the Middle Eastern region,”
the statement charged. “The justifications that it has cited for its
acquisition and development of weapons of mass destruction, and
especially nuclear weapons, are manifestly and totally inconsistent
with its alleged desire to achieve peace with the peoples and states of
Meridor, along with other heads of delegations, met
briefly with Obama before the conference started on Monday night. The
event is the largest such gathering of world leaders in the US since
the founding of the UN, and the first time a summit on this scale has
been convened on this topic.
“He spoke to me and he said he was
sorry the prime minister couldn’t come and maybe the timing wasn’t
optimal, and then we moved on,” Meridor said of his conversation with
Obama, but wouldn’t elaborate when pressed by reporters.
we’ve seen so far at these meetings and plenary sessions is that the
leaders have been extremely focused on the issues on the table and
really trying to see how we promote greater international
coordination,” the American official said, expressing satisfaction with
the tenor of the conversation. “Really, it’s gone fairly much according
Meridor also said that criticism of Israel’s
nuclear reactors had not been raised in a conference devoted to nuclear
security because of the safeguards that Israel employs.
here approached me about the safety of Israel’s nuclear facilities
because everyone knows that we have very high standards,” he said.
the issues connected to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process featured
prominently in talks he had on the sidelines of the conference with US
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and with Swedish and
Norwegian leaders, with the message focusing on the need to get
negotiations going as swiftly as possible.
meetings, however, featured the issue of Iran more prominently. The US
on Monday night held an impromptu meeting of the P5+1, the six world
powers leading efforts to deal with Iran’s nuclear policy, as well as
the one-on-one meeting Obama held with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
the meeting, White House national security official Jeff Bader said the
Chinese were “prepared to work with us” as the two countries consult
with the rest of the UN Security Council to draft a new round of
sanctions against Iran.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma
Zhaoxu was also quoted as saying the US and China “share the same
overall goal on the Iranian nuclear issue,” though later Chinese
officials made comments more critical of sanctions.
Meridor described “an atmosphere here that says that something is moving with the Chinese approach.”
Chinese statement produced for the summit spoke of the vision of a
world without nuclear weapons, which Obama himself articulated a year
ago and referred to in opening Tuesday’s morning session.
also spoke of the paramount threat of nuclear weapons being acquired by
terrorist networks like al-Qaida, which he accused of making attempts
to do so.
“If they ever succeeded, they would surely use it,” he
warned. “Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world,
causing extraordinary loss of life and striking a major blow to global
peace and stability.”
Israel’s statement included an allusion
to Iran as well as to terrorist groups, though it did not reference the
country by name.
“The greatest threat to peace is that the world’s most dangerous
regimes and the world’s most dangerous terror groups would acquire the
world’s most dangerous weapons,” the statement said.
“alarming increase” the chance that this threat would materialize of
recent months, according to the statement, “has been magnified by the
possibility that terror supporting states developing nuclear weapons
might give these weapons and other nuclear materials to their non-state
proxies in the hope of avoiding culpability for their actions.”
statement noted that “Israel acutely understands this threat because a
regime that illicitly seeks nuclear weapons and openly calls for
Israel's destruction is supporting terror proxies that continuously
attack Israel's civilians with missiles, rockets and other means.”