Early in his first term in office, President Obama identified nuclear terrorism as "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security" and hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, with a goal to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials. Years later, supporters and critics of the Obama administration alike continue to underscore the importance of this task as focus turns now to the third Nuclear Security Summit, this time in The Hague in late March.
The 2014 Summit is being held at a time of both progress and peril in the international effort to secure the materials that could be used to build a nuclear bomb. Since 2012, seven countries have removed all or most of these dangerous materials from their territories, bringing the number of countries now storing weapons-usable materials down to 25, according to a new report out by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Despite this progress, there is much work to be done. Terrorist organizations continue to seek weapons of mass destruction, materials are still stored at hundreds of sites with varying levels of security, and the International Atomic Energy Agency each year receives reports of more than a hundred incidents of theft and other unauthorized activity involving nuclear and radiological material.
What tangible results should we expect out of The Hague summit in two weeks? What work remains to be tackled by leaders over the next two years on the road to 2016? Is Congress a support or a hindrance? And as we approach the 5th anniversary of President Obama's Prague speech, laying the foundation for his broad nuclear agenda and addressing nuclear weapons in the 21st century, how is his legacy on nuclear issues taking shape?
Ambassador Kåre Aas’s distinguished career with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs began in 1983. He left his position in Oslo as Political Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to become the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States. He presented his credentials to President Obama at the White House on Sept. 17, 2013.
Prior to his assignment as Political Director, Amb. Aas served as the Norwegian Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from 2008-10.
From 2003 to 2008, Amb. Aas served as Director General, Department for Security Policy and the High North. In that capacity he had the bilateral relationships between Norway and the U.S., the Russian Federation and the Central Asian Republics in his portfolio, and chaired and/or was a member of several international groups working on nuclear disarmament and international peacekeeping operations.
From 2005-07 he also served as Norwegian Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) Board of Governors.
Amb. Aas was born on May 25, 1955 in Oslo, Norway. He has three daughters and one son.
Follow the Ambassador on Twitter: @kareraas
Matthew Bunn is the Senior Research Associate in the Project on Managing the Atom in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. His current research interests include nuclear theft and terrorism; nuclear proliferation and measures to control it; and the future of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle.
Before joining the Kennedy School in January 1997, he served for three years as an adviser to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he played a major role in U.S. policies related to the control and disposition of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the United States and the former Soviet Union and directed a secret study for President Clinton on security for nuclear materials in Russia. Previously, Bunn was at the National Academy of Sciences, where he directed the two-volume study Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium.
He is the winner of the American Physical Societyâ€™s Joseph A. Burton Forum Award for "outstanding contributions in helping to formulate policies to decrease the risks of theft of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials" and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Arms Control Association and the Partnership for Global Security and serves on the Committee on the Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycleâ€”a joint committee of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Jeff Fortenberry was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004 to serve Nebraska's First Congressional District. His work in Congress is rooted in the belief that the strength of our nation depends on the strength of our families and communities. Jeff is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which appropriates United States government expenditures. He serves on three subcommittees with importance for Nebraska: Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
Jeff previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee where he placed particular focus on human rights concerns, Middle Eastern affairs, and nuclear weapons non-proliferation. He also represented Nebraska on the Agriculture Committee, where his work on two Farm Bills advanced opportunities for young and beginning farmers and promoted agricultural entrepreneurship.
Prior to serving in Congress, Jeff worked as a publishing industry executive in Lincoln, where he also served on the Lincoln City Council from 1997-2001. Jeff also has significant personal experience in small business, and early in his career he worked as a policy analyst for the United States Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations. Jeff earned a bachelor's degree in economics and two master's degrees, one in public policy. He and his wife Celeste live in Lincoln and have five daughters.
Jane Harman is president, CEO, and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She is a former US representative (D-CA). Representing the aerospace center of California during nine terms in Congress, she served on all of the major security committees: six years on Armed Services, eight years on Intelligence, and four years on Homeland Security. She has made numerous congressional fact-finding missions to hot spots around the world, including North Korea, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Guantánamo Bay, to assess threats against the United States. Harman has received numerous awards, including the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Service, the CIA’s Agency Seal Medal, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal. Prior to serving in Congress, she was a top aide in the United States Senate, deputy cabinet secretary to President Jimmy Carter, special counsel to the Department of Defense, and in private law practice.
Her Excellency Renée Jones-Bos served as Ambassador of the Netherlands to the United States from August 2008 to June 2012.
She joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1981 and was posted at Dutch embassies in Dhaka and Paramaribo from 1982-1987.
From 1987-1990, Jones-Bos was First Secretary at the Netherlands Embassy in Washington, DC, before serving as head of recruitment and training at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1990-1994. From 1994-1998, Jones-Bos was Deputy Chief of Mission for the Netherlands Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, and from 1998-2000, she was Head of the Security Council Task Force at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Jones-Bos was Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2000-2003, before becoming Deputy Director-General for Regional Policy and Consular Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2005. She was Director-General for Regional Policy and Consular Affairs from 2005-2008.
Ambassador Jones-Bos earned an M.A. in Russian studies from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, as well as a licentiate in Russian and English studies and politics and economics from the University of Antwerp in Belgium.
Renée Jones-Bos has held several board positions during her career including on the Supervisory Board of the Leiden University Medical Center; the Board of the Netherlands Society for International Affairs; the Advisory Board of Tilburg University; and the Selection Board of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sam Nunn is Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a charitable organization working to reduce the global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. He served as a United States Senator from Georgia for 24 years (1972-1996) and is retired from the law firm King & Spalding.
Senator Nunn attended Georgia Tech, Emory University and Emory Law School, where he graduated with honors in 1962. After active duty service in the U.S. Coast Guard, he served six years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. He first entered politics as a Member of the Georgia House of Representatives in 1968.
During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Senator Nunn served as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He also served on the Intelligence and Small Business Committees.
His legislative achievements include the landmark Department of Defense Reorganization Act, drafted with the late Senator Barry Goldwater, and the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which provides assistance to Russia and the former Soviet republics for securing and destroying their excess nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
In addition to his work with NTI, Senator Nunn has continued his service in the public policy arena as a distinguished professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech and as chairman of the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall is a senior research scholar at CISAC and a senior adviser to the center's Preventive Defense Project. She is also Adjunct Senior Fellow for Alliance Relations at the Council on Foreign Relations and a 2004 Carnegie Scholar.
Her work focuses on American national security challenges, including preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, defense leadership and management, and alliance politics.
William Tobey was most recently Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration. There, he managed the U.S. government's largest program to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism by detecting, securing, and disposing of dangerous nuclear material. Mr. Tobey also served on the National Security Council Staff in three administrations, in defense policy, arms control, and counter-proliferation positions. He has participated in international negotiations ranging from the START talks with the Soviet Union, to the Six Party Talks with North Korea. He also has extensive experience in investment banking and venture capital.