World News Brief, Thursday April 15

Nuclear summit pledges to secure fissile material within four years (+ analysis); Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia and Canada all make concrete promises to cut loose nukes; India demands action on Mumbai bombings before talks with Pakistan; Israel claims Syria gave Hezbollah scuds; and more

Top of the Agenda: World Leaders Make Nuclear Pledge

US President Barack Obama secured a pledge (WSJ) from forty-six countries to shield the world's nuclear material from terrorists by 2014 at the close of a global summit in Washington. Leaders did not agree to legally binding plans to secure specific amounts of nuclear material or to convert nuclear reactors for highly enriched uranium into lower-grade fuel. The document they signed instead committed to making those conversions voluntarily, where "appropriate" and "feasible." The summit may help Obama press for sanctions against Iran and bolster the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at the United Nations next month. Critics were skeptical of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao's statements that they would cooperate with US efforts on Iran sanctions, as well as the agreement's lack of binding commitments.

Obama's strong diplomatic performance (WashPost) at the high-profile conference could improve his stature on unpopular political and economic issues at home.


In the New Republic, Michael Crowley says, despite some setbacks, Obama's summit achieved concrete steps: Ukraine agreed to surrender ninety kilograms of highly enriched uranium; Canada will return a supply of spent nuclear fuel to the United States; Malaysia will tighten its nuclear controls; and Russia agreed to shut down a plutonium factory.

An Economist editorial says after the summit Obama still has to contend with the India-Pakistan rivalry, Israel's non-attendance, and the Iranian nuclear issue.

President Obama's Washington summit has spurred progress on global cooperation to secure nuclear materials from theft and has asserted U.S. leadership on a vital issue, says CFR's Paul Stares.


This CFR Interactive examines the past, present, and future of nuclear energy.

Check out expert analysis and background resources from CFR on nuclear nonproliferation, security, and treaties.


PACIFIC RIM: Kyrgyz Leader Demands Trial for Ousted President

Kyrgyz interim president Rosa Otunbayeva called for ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev to stand trial (NYT) over the recent deadly unrest that caused him to flee his post.

In this podcast, CFR's Evan Feigenbaum says the fundamental challenge facing Kyrgyzstan's interim government "is to restore and sustain order but then set the country back on a path to democracy."

China: President Obama sought to defuse tensions over the value of China's currency by acknowledging Chinese sensitivities (FT) about the US push to let the yuan appreciate against the US dollar.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the China-US economic imbalance.



Israel says Syria Gave Hezbollah Missiles
India-Pakistan Dialogue Stalemated
Michelle Obama Visits Mexico, Haiti


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on