Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When and where will the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit be held?
A: The United States will host the fourth Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., on March 31 and April 1, 2016.
Q. What are the goals of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit?
A: There are twin goals for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit: advancing tangible improvements in nuclear security behavior, and strengthening the global nuclear security architecture. As was the case at previous Summits, countries will announce significant nuclear security commitments and accomplishments, both through national statements or in association with multilateral Gift Baskets. Action Plans will be endorsed for five key international organizations and institutions (International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations, INTERPOL, Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction) that will reflect the intent of Summit countries, in their roles as members of these organizations, to strengthen their contributions to nuclear security. The 2016 Summit will provide a forum and the opportunity for leaders to engage with each other and to reinforce at the highest levels our commitment to securing and eliminating nuclear materials, and preventing nuclear smuggling. Despite the significant progress achieved through the Summit process, it will be important that leaders recognize that this remains a challenge to global security and that we must continue to maintain high-level focus on steps to address nuclear security challenges.
Q. What would the United States like to see participating states contribute to the 2016 Summit?
A. We are hopeful that Summit participants will pledge to undertake additional steps to secure nuclear material in their countries, minimize the use of nuclear materials in civilian applications, update on their progress on prior commitments, and commit to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture through concrete actions, such as those in the Action Plans.
Q. How will countries not participating in the Summit be engaged in efforts to secure and eliminate nuclear and radiological materials?
A. Countries not invited to participate in the Summit are included in ongoing outreach initiatives hosted by Summit participants. Since 2010, China, Spain, Poland, Morocco,
Chile, Thailand, the IAEA, the UN, and the African Union have hosted regional meetings where the outcomes of the Summits have been briefed to Summit non-participants. These outreach efforts inform all countries on the Communiqués, Gift Baskets, and the 2010 Work Plan and seek to further integrate them into the global effort to secure nuclear and radiological material. Implementation of the NSS Action Plans will require approval of the governing bodies of the five institutions, which will engage countries who have not participated in Summits. Thus, countries wishing to support nuclear security have many ways in which to participate and support the Summit agenda.
Q. Will there be a 2016 NSS Communiqué?
A. There will be a short and concise Communiqué, which will be similar to the format of the Communiqué from the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.
Q. Will the Action Plans be referenced in the Communiqué?
A. The Action Plans will accompany the Communiqué, noting that only members of the GICNT and GP have agreed to those particular Action Plans.
Q. Will there be another scenario-based policy discussion at the 2016 Summit?
A. Yes. Following the success of the 2014 scenario in which leaders at the 2014 Summit participated, there will be another scenario-based policy discussion at the 2016 Summit.
Q. Will there be side events at the 2016 Summit, similar to those in 2010, 2012, and 2014?
A. We anticipate there will be side events with nuclear experts and non-governmental organizations, as well as nuclear industry representatives. These communities have important roles to play in improving and sustaining nuclear security.
Q. What progress has been made since the President announced the effort to secure vulnerable nuclear materials in April 2009?
A. The Summits have resulted in dozens of national and multilateral commitments and tangible results that have enhanced nuclear security. For example, since April 2009 more than 3.2 metric tons of vulnerable HEU and plutonium material have been removed or disposed of. Thirteen countries and Taiwan have become HEU-free: Austria, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Libya, Mexico, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam. Physical security upgrades have been completed at 32 buildings storing weapons-usable fissile materials. And radiation detection equipment has been installed at 328 international border crossings, airports, and seaports to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear materials.
Several countries pledged to establish Centers of Excellence to provide international, regional, and domestic training on nuclear security, safeguards, and export control fundamentals and best practices. A number of countries have ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM/A) and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT), and additional states have joined the Global Partnership and/or the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
The IAEA also hosted a Ministerial-level international conference on Nuclear Security in July 2013. Through measures like these, the Summits have increased the security of nuclear material worldwide, reducing opportunities for such material to fall into the hands of terrorists.
Q. Will the United States ratify the CPPNM/A and the ICSANT before the 2016 Summit?
A. The United States deposited its instruments for ratification for each of these treaties in 2015. We are working with other countries toward a goal of achieving entry into force of the CPPNM/A before the Summit.
Q. Will the 2016 Summit participants take on new commitments, beyond those of 2010, 2012, and 2014?
A. Yes, we anticipate countries will join Gift Baskets, and some countries will announce additional commitments. The 2016 Summit will also reaffirm the commitments of the previous Summits and discuss how to most effectively achieve those commitments byworking individually and collectively, through existing mechanisms, organizations, and initiatives, particularly the five key international organizations and initiatives.
Q. How many Sherpa meetings have taken place to date and how many more will take place prior to the Summit?
A. Thus far, there have been four Sherpa meetings since the 2014 Summit in The Hague. The first took place in October 2014 in Washington; a second in February 2015 in Thailand; the third in July 2015 in Lithuania; and a fourth in December 2015 in Kazakhstan. We plan to hold the fifth in February 2016 in Sweden. There will be a final Sherpa meeting immediately before the Summit at the location of the Summit.
Q. How many more Summits will be held on this issue?
A. 2016 will be the last Nuclear Security Summit in its current format. Future leaders could convene additional Summits as needed.
Q. Will there be a structure of future meetings of Sherpas following the 2016 Summit?
A. Discussions on possible options for a post-2016 coordinating structure is ongoing amongst Sherpas. There is no decision on a possible structure at this point.
Q. What is the status of Russia’s decision not to take part in the 2016 Summit?
A. It is unfortunate that Russia has decided not to attend the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit. The Nuclear Security Summit process has brought together more than 50 countries and four international institutions to take concrete action to secure nuclear materials and to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, and the group has made significant progress in the past five and a half years.
The personal attention of world leaders at the biennial conference is a unique mechanism to spur action toward success on this important security priority. We hope that Russia, as the host of the first nuclear security summit of “G7+1” leaders in 1996, still shares the view that securing nuclear materials and combatting nuclear terrorism are priorities well worth the personal attention of world leaders.
The results of the Summit will be public and of course, available to Russia. With regards to the future, we look forward to working with international partners in a variety of fora on reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism, as that is in everyone’s interest.
Q. How will the Summit process be transitioned to key international organizations and initiatives?
A. The Summits have succeeded in elevating, enhancing, and encouraging the work of existing mechanisms, organizations, and initiatives that address nuclear security and smuggling. With the 2016 Summit the last in its current format, maintaining momentum and themes from the four Summits is imperative. Strengthening institutions that address nuclear and radiological security issues according to their existing mandates, is one important method for ensuring the continued legacy of the Summit process and
accomplishments. The NSS Action Plans will provide further detail on how the five key international organizations and institutions can be strengthened.
Q. What are the Action Plans and how will they be incorporated into the existing work of each of the five institutions and initiatives?
A. The Action Plans will outline goals that Summit nations will pursue within the key institutions and initiatives. Each institution is unique and equivalency is not implied.
Institutional leaders are not expected to endorse any Action Plans. Any commitments by Summit participants regarding institutions will be pursued through the established decision-making processes of each institution. After the 2016 Summit, infusion of the Action Plans will occur through the decision-making processes of each institution, and will rely on the ability to attract support from members outside the Summit process.
Involvement of institutions' leadership or staff will be different for each Drafting Group, and based on their judgment.
Q. Will there be Gift Baskets and national commitments made at the 2016 NSS as there were in the past?
A. Yes. There will be both Gift Baskets and national statements/commitments at the 2016 NSS.
Q. How does the Summit relate to the International Atomic Energy Agency?
A. The Summit is intended to elevate, enhance, and encourage the work of existing mechanisms, organizations, and initiatives that address nuclear security and smuggling, recognizing the central and unique role of the IAEA. The IAEA brings together member states to develop guidance in developing and implementing effective nuclear security measures, helps to coordinate member state activities on nuclear security, and supports national efforts to enhance nuclear security worldwide. The IAEA’s July 2013 International Conference on Nuclear Security helped promote the important role of the IAEA in nuclear security. The IAEA will host another International Conference in December 2016.
Q. How does the Summit relate to the United Nations?
A. Summit Participants have identified the United Nations as one of five key institutions that will sustain many of the Summit's commitments. The United Nations has already
had a significant role in strengthening the international framework for nuclear security. As previous Summit documents detail, UN Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism create a strong international legal basis for nuclear security and combating nuclear terrorism. As a truly global organization, the United Nations also has unique convening power. By engaging the mechanisms of the 1540 Committee and the Secretary-General, and their cooperative relations with all 193 UN Member States, dozens of international, regional, and sub-regional organizations, and an array of civil society and industry bodies, for example, Summit Participants can promote nuclear security across the widest possible audience.
Q. How does the Summit relate to INTERPOL?
A. INTERPOL recognizes that the consequences of a terrorist group developing the capacity to use nuclear or radiological materials to achieve their goals could be catastrophic. In this respect, the world's law enforcement services must be prepared to confront the threat presented by terrorists who seek to acquire and use nuclear or radioactive materials. In addition, nuclear or radioactive materials are appearing with increasing frequency in organized and environmental crimes, such as illegal disposal schemes carried out for profit. INTERPOL’s law enforcement efforts are based on a strategy founded in operational data services, investigative support, and capacity building. Recognizing that nuclear and radiological terrorism is a global issue, INTERPOL works closely with a number of international organizations and supports the international law enforcement community in tracking the transnational movement of individuals involved in the illicit trafficking of radioactive or nuclear materials.
Q. How does the Summit relate to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism?
A. The Summit is intended to elevate, enhance, and encourage the work of existing mechanisms and fora that address nuclear security, such as the GICNT. Summit participants have identified the GICNT as one of five key institutions that will sustain many of the Washington Summit's commitments. The GICNT plays a unique role for sharing nuclear security best practices, and strengthening the plans, policies, procedures, and interoperability of GICNT partner countries in preventing, detecting, and responding to acts of nuclear terrorism. The GICNT's focus in areas such as nuclear forensics and nuclear detection complement the previous Summits' Work Plan and
Communiqués. The GICNT is also well-positioned to help uplift the key messages of other nuclear security organizations, such as the IAEA and Interpol.
Q. How does the Summit relate to the Global Partnership?
A. The Summit is intended to elevate, enhance, and encourage the work of existing mechanisms and fora that address nuclear security and smuggling, such as the 29-member G7 Global Partnership. As an international initiative that provides funding and coordinates programs in the areas of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security, the Global Partnership is instrumental in implementing commitments made by countries in nuclear and radiological security, including providing funding to other relevant international organizations. The Global Partnership also has as a mandate promoting the implementation of UNSCR 1540. Approximately half of the countries expected to participate in 2016 Summit are members of the G7 Global Partnership and have made pledges toward improving nuclear security and combating nuclear terrorism. Such pledges contribute to the international effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material. The Global Partnership's Nuclear and Radiological Security Sub-Working Group contributes to Summit objectives by assisting countries with improving nuclear security and fulfilling Summit commitments.