Nuclear Summit Yields Early Dividends

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President Barack Obama's nuclear summit being held in Washington, D.C., may already be earning dividends.

First, the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine says it will get rid of nuclear bomb-making materials.

And, second, the White House announced that China has agreed to work with the U.S. on possible sanctions against Iran.

A Major Coup for Obama

China has historically been opposed to tough sanctions, uneasy about damaging its trade relationship with Tehran. So the announcement that it is ready to move forward with sanctions is significant.

Ukraine's decision is also a major coup for Obama as the country has the world's third largest stockpile of highly enriched uranium.

"Just 50 pounds of high purity uranium, smaller than a soccer ball, could destroy the downtown of all our capital cities and kill tens, if not hundreds, if not thousands of individuals," Vice President Joe Biden said.

Ukraine's uranium is just part of the 2,100 tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium scattered around the globe.

The president wants it all secured in the next four years in order to keep it out of the hands of terrorists.

"Organizations like al Qaeda are in the process of trying to secure a nuclear weapon - a weapon of mass destruction that they have no compunction at using," Obama said.

List of No Shows

The president has gathered selected presidents and prime ministers of 47 countries at the summit.

Nuclear rogue states like Iran and North Korea are not in attendance.

Also notably absent was Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An Israeli official said the prime minister cancelled after getting word that the summit would criticize Israel's nuclear program.

"The prime minister decided to avoid it because this conference was intended to deal solely with the proliferation of nuclear weapons or fissile materials to terrorist organizations," Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

On Monday, an Egyptian official linked Israel to the drive to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions.

He said world leaders should press both nations on the issue because the Middle East should be a nuclear free zone.

Meanwhile, summit talks will begin in earnest Tuesday morning. Obama will hold a news conference at the end of the day. Although no major news is expected, there could be more surprises ahead.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

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