"...This gathering is a tribute to the nations that contribute to security and peace that's playing a leading role around the globe and that's taking its rightful place on the world stage. When I hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit two years ago in Washington, there were those who questioned whether our nations could summon the will to confront one of the gravest dangers of our time. In part because it involves a lot of technical issues, in part because the world was still grappling with a whole host of other issues like the economy and the global recession, there was some skepticism that we would be able to sustain an effort around this topic. But that's exactly what we've done.
"We've agreed that nuclear terrorism is one of the most urgent and serious threats to global security. We agreed to the goal of securing the world's nuclear materials in four years. We committed ourselves to specific and concrete actions. And to get this done, we agreed a new effort of sustained and effective international cooperation was required, that we would need to create an architecture in which we could share best practices, help to enforce many of the commitments that we had already made, and continue to improve every aspect of this issue.
"Over the past two years, the questions have been different -- would we back up our words with deeds; would we sustain our cooperation. Today, here in Seoul, we can answer with a resounding yes. We are fulfilling the commitments we made in Washington. We are improving 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. And as a result, more of the world's nuclear materials will never fall into the hands of terrorists who would gladly use them against us."
As a tangible step in the progress President Obama outlined, the United States announced today the removal of over 280 pounds of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from two remaining sites in Ukraine. The shipments were completed as part of a joint effort with Ukraine and fulfill the commitments made by Presidents Obama and Yanukovych at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit to remove all of Ukraine's HEU by the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. In a speech in Prague in April 2009, President Obama called for an international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. Shipments like these recently completed from Ukraine result in permanent threat reduction because they eliminate weapons-usable nuclear material at civilian sites. Financial support to help implement the removal operations with Ukraine was provided by the United Kingdom as part of a cost-sharing approach.
The Nuclear Security Summit was designed to energize, enhance, empower and elevate the many existing multilateral, cooperative institutions and structures aimed at securing nuclear materials and preventing nuclear smuggling. You can read more about the summit here.