Today, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt made history. He announced that Sweden and the United States worked together to transfer plutonium from historical Swedish nuclear research and development activities to the United States for disposition under a U.S. nonproliferation program called the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). This is historic for a couple of reasons – it’s the first shipment of plutonium to the United States under the GTRI and will therefore be a model for other countries who seek to safely dispose of this type of material. Additionally, it brings us one step closer to improving nuclear security worldwide. I applaud the Swedish team for their commitment to global nuclear security and for their dedication to such a complex and technically challenging project. Our two countries have worked on this project together for three years.
Foreign Minister Bildt’s announcement was a major result of a process launched at the first ever Nuclear Security Summit convened by President Obama in Washington DC in 2010. In April of 2010, 50 world leaders met in Washington to develop a plan to lock down nuclear material, disrupt nuclear trafficking, and prevent nuclear terrorism. The leaders also decided that separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium would need special attention. Permanent reduction of these materials would reduce the global nuclear threat. In Seoul, world leaders came together for the second Nuclear Security Summit to report on their progress and to make new commitments. Speaking at the Summit, President Obama applauded the work that countries have done saying “we are fulfilling the commitments we made in Washington. We are improving the security at our nuclear facilities. We are forging new partnerships. We are removing nuclear materials, and in some cases, getting rid of these materials entirely.” As a result, the world is safer.
Sweden and the United States have once again worked together to tackle a serious and significant global challenge. It is my hope that this cooperation will be an example for other countries looking to dispose of such material. As President Obama noted in his remarks at Seoul, “no one nation can do this alone.”