Russia to skip nuclear summit over 'lack of cooperation'

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |   March 30, 2016 at 12:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- The Kremlin said a Russian representative will not be in attendance when some 56 nations convene in Washington, D.C., this week for the Nuclear Security Summit.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia won't attend because there hasn't been cooperation between partners.

"We faced a certain lack of cooperation during the preliminary stage of working on issues and topics of the summit. That's why in this case there is no participation of the Russian side," Peskov said of the fourth summit on nuclear material proliferation since 2009.

He added the United States and Russia continue to discuss matters of nuclear security.

Ben Rhodes, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser, said Tuesday that Russia's absence is "a missed opportunity for Russia above all" that will lead to its further isolation.

The two-day conference, at the White House and the Washington Convention Center, will include heads of state from countries including Britain, Canada, Mexico, France, India, Italy, Turkey and the United States. President Barack Obama will hold a meeting Thursday between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, hoping to perpetuate a recent thaw in frosty relations prompted by a reconciliation regarding grievances dating to World War II.

Obama will also meet privately with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but official talks requested by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be left to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

The summit is an opportunity to discuss a range of issues, including recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Belgium, the export of insurgent forces from Syria and various economic, territorial and climate matters. But the focus will be on ways to reduce the use of highly enriched uranium, a key ingredient of nuclear weapons, and approaches to reduce nuclear smuggling. A special session will be devoted to the Islamic State's capability for urban terrorism, and preventing it from obtaining chemical and radiological weapons.

In a statement previewing the summit, the White House noted it is aware of 2,000 metric tons of material, such as highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium useable for construction of nuclear weapons, in the world.

"We know that terrorists have the intent and the capability to turn these raw materials into a nuclear device if they were to gain access to them," an incident which could "create political, economic, social, psychological and environmental havoc around the world, no matter where the attack occurs."

It was announced earlier this week that the talks between Obama and Xi will include recent provocations by North Korea, including tests of long-range rockets and threats to use them.

"On this issue, China's position is consistent. We are dedicated to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said.

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