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Stopping nuclear weapons


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Presidents, prime ministers and other leaders from 47 countries start work today on a battle plan to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands. The host, U.S. President Barack Obama, is looking for global help in his goal of ensuring all nuclear materials worldwide are secured from theft or diversion within four years. On the eve of what would be the largest assembly of world leaders hosted by an American president since 1945 — the San Francisco conference to found the United Nations — Obama said nuclear materials in the hands of al-Qaida or another terrorist group "could change the security landscape in this country and around the world for years to come." He opens the conference today with a working dinner, and meets individually today with the leaders of Jordan, Malaysia, Armenia and China. The sessions close Tuesday with a joint statement on efforts to prevent the transfer of nuclear materials and technology and to keep them locked up. Ahead of the conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear that she, too, sees dirty bombs in terrorist hands as an even larger threat than regular nuclear weapons. Merkel said today that such weapons "must not under any circumstances" fall into the hands of terror groups such as al-Qaida. "We believe that the IAEA must be strengthened, we are ready to pledge additional finances to make this happen," Merkel said of the nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency. Merkel praised Obama's decision to hold the conference as "extremely important," and said it fits well with Obama's global disarmament efforts.


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