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Descending From the Summit The Path Toward Nuclear Security 2010–2016 and Beyond

William Tobey
Policy Analysis Brief
August 2016

Although the nuclear security summits were a bold, innovative approach to the urgent problem of preventing nuclear terrorism—and generated substantial achievements—the process is unlikely to recur. That is because the circumstances that led to the meetings are unlikely to recombine.

Tobey reviews the motivations, strengths, and weaknesses of the nuclear security summits and provides recommendations for how governments can maintain momentum and awareness now that the summit process is over. He concludes that some of the innovations from the process, such as gift baskets and national commitments, progress reports, a contact group outliving the summit meetings, and scenario-based discussions by leaders will continue to be useful tools.

Among Tobey’s other recommendations are that states with nuclear weapons share best security practices, that the United States and Russia reinvigorate joint efforts, that the next US administration build on the work of its predecessors, and that world leaders fulfill their responsibility for nuclear security. Tobey also suggests that the enduring nuclear security contact group be used to review progress and manage synergies between institutions responsible for carrying on the work of the summits.

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