World leaders from over 50 countries convene in the United States to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) hosted by President Barack Obama.
The two-day event will focus on ways to protect nuclear facilities and stop terrorists from creating and using atomic explosives.
North Korea’s nuclear tests and the threat posed by the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group will be top on the NSS agenda this time around.
With less than 10 months left in office, Obama will convene the NSS in Washington for his fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, a diplomatic process that started and will end on his watch.
The US president will kick off the summit by meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, followed by a separate sit-down with President Xi Jinping of China.
He is also set to hold talks with French President Francois Hollande.
Russia has boycotted the event amid increased tensions between Washington and Moscow.
The absence of Russia, one of the biggest atomic powers, could detract from decisions reached in Washington this week.
Obama has in a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post said, “Our massive Cold War nuclear arsenal is poorly suited to today’s threats. The United States and Russia – which together hold more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons – should negotiate to reduce our stockpiles further.”
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russia was skipping the summit because of a “shortage of mutual cooperation” in working out the agenda.
Since the mid-1990s, almost 2,800 incidents of illicit trafficking, “unauthorized possession” or loss of nuclear materials have been recorded in an International Atomic Energy Agency database.
The International Panel on Fissile Materials, an independent group of arms-control experts, estimated that the global stockpile of highly enriched uranium stood at around 1370 tons at the end of 2014. Most was held in Russia.