The nuclear threat posed by North Korea and the possibility of Islamic State extremists getting a nuclear weapon are expected to top the agenda as world leaders gather in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit.
The two-day gathering that opened on March 31 is the fourth such summit since U.S. President Barack Obama laid out nuclear nonproliferation as a key plank of his foreign policy agenda in 2009.
It also comes amid growing fears that extremist groups like Islamic State are stepping up efforts to obtain radiological materials that could be used in building a so-called dirty bomb.
Belgian officials have increased security measures at the country’s nuclear facilities after a man with ties to the Paris terror attacks was found with surveillance video footage of Belgian plants.
Some 50 heads of state and government as well as representatives from international organizations will take part in the nuclear summit. One notable absence will be Russia, whose relations with the West have chilled over Ukraine among other issues.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes has noted that the summit will provide a chance to look at both how to secure nuclear materials to prevent them from falling into terrorist hands and how to target Islamic State more broadly.
Rhodes noted that much has been done to secure nuclear material since the first Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 in Washington, with the reduction or complete elimination of nuclear materials in 14 countries including Ukraine and Chile.