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Nuclear Threats Summit; Nuclear Secrets; American Priest Wants Pope to Step Down; Twitter Rolls Out Ad Plan; Mickelson's Win Means Free Drivers; President Addresses Nuclear Summit

Aired April 13, 2010 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys. Good morning. And happy Tuesday. Got a lot to cover. Let's go ahead and get to it.

Back in the day, we worry about Soviets. Now the nuclear threat isn't red. It's more gray. What are chances a terror group could buy or steal a nuke?

The Pope resign, really? That's one idea out there to address the sex abuse scandal. You won't believe whose idea it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very happy. Very happy. I cried like a little baby. Tears were flowing when I walked into this house this morning all by myself.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Yes, our tears were flowing too. Homeless no more. A man down on his luck gets back on his feet. Wait until you meet the police officer who lifted him up.

Dirty bombs, plutonium dropped in a crowd, uranium in the hands of terrorists, all possibilities and all on the table at a major nuclear summit going on right now in Washington.

We are covering all the angles. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon showing us what countries we should worry about. Susan Malveaux is at the White House. Doesn't the president have bigger fish to fry right here at home like the economy?

And we've got our Josh Levs looking into the spy game. Nuclear secrets. Who is buying and who is selling?

Now here are the countries with declared nuclear weapons. Not just nuclear materials, but weapons. The U.S., UK, France, Russia, China, Pakistan, India and North Korea, but the lion's share, around 90 percent, of all known nuclear weapons are controlled by the U.S. and Russia.

And those are just the declared nations. There is a lot more out there. And we're not just talking about weapons but nuclear materials that can be lethal in the wrong hands. The hands of terrorists. Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon.

So, Barbara, just how real is that threat?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kyra, the president says the possibility of nuclear terrorism is the biggest threat that the world faces.

But how real is it? Could terrorists really get their hands on nuclear material? Of course, the big concern is al Qaeda. The U.S. believes they've been trying to get their hands on nuclear material for years.

Listen to John Brennan, the president's top adviser or counterterrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Over the past two decades, there has been indisputable evidence that dozens of terrorists groups have actively sought some type of weapons of mass effect.

Relative to other potential weapons, which include biological, chemical, radiological, the consequences and impact of a nuclear attack would be the most devastating as well as the most lasting.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: OK, but how hard is it really? Well, terrorists would first of course have to get their hands on nuclear material, on fissile material. As you pointed out, it's all very strictly controlled or at least everyone hopes.

But if it was stolen and by criminals, perhaps, and terrorists got their hands on it, the next challenge they would face is fashioning it into some kind of weapon and being able to deliver it to explode it, if you will, over a city or a military base.

All of these things will make it a very tough challenge for terrorists but the whole idea of the summit here in Washington is to make sure they never get their hands on it in the first place -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, if you were to select the countries that pose the biggest threats, can we even do that? Even with the lack of information that we have?

STARR: Well, there are some countries that are of concern because not that their government would sell to terrorists -- perhaps some of them -- but are the controls strict enough?

Let's look at a map for a second here. You know, on the one hand, you have Iran and North Korea, always a concern. There is a lot of worry about what their governments actually are up to.

So they fall into somewhat of a category all by themselves. But you also have these other countries -- Russia, Pakistan, India -- concern that their controls aren't strict enough, that terrorists or criminals could break in and get their hands on some of that nuclear material.

There's been some good news out of the summit, of course. Ukraine, a lot of concern about their stock piles, but they are now officially agreeing to put those under much stricter controls and basically to shut down their stock pile efforts -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Got it. Barbara Starr, thanks so much.

Let's talk more about Iran. You know they're not at the summit but they're still on the tip of everyone's tongue. And for the first time China has publicly said sanctions are possible as a way to do with Iran's defiance over the nuclear program.

That word came after President Obama met privately with his Chinese counterpart. Now a sanctions resolution is in the works, but China is still emphasizing that their first choice is negotiations. So far unilateral talks have accomplished nothing.

Just as dangerous as nuclear weapons are, nuclear secrets and information falling into the wrong hands.

CNN's Josh Levs has been investigating this angle of the story.

What did you find out, Josh?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, you know something, we'd often talk about the proliferation of weapons and what a huge concern it is, and it is for so many countries around the world. But you're absolutely right. This trade in nuclear know-how, nuclear knowledge or in many cases nuclear secrets is just a big a concern.

Let me tell you what's next to me here. This is a map from the Federation of American Scientists. And what they have done is label some of the sites where they're known to be nuclear sites, nuclear weaponry, different types. And they use different codes.

But as we take a look at these -- the locations of nuclear weapons, it's important to keep in mind that where there are nuclear weapons, there is nuclear know-how. And there are a lot of other countries out there and people and groups around the world that would love to make that map there and have some of this. And that means understanding how to do it.

Let's take a look at what President Obama said just last week when he was talking about this. He made this, "A black market trade and nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build, or steal one."

So that's what we've been seeing. And a lot of cases if it's black market operating, and something we saw during the Bush administration, is going to continue now. And let me show you some video I believe we have of one figure in Pakistan who has come up often and we hear about it.

This is a man named A.Q. Kahn. A lot of you probably this story. This is a man who did, at point one -- and say that he had given some nuclear information -- he has passed it along -- to North Korea, Iran and Libra. But he then recanted that confession and there have been questions ever since.

How many places got nuclear information from him? And just looking at him helps us keep in mind how serious this is. Certain people out there who have a lot of nuclear know-how are a commodity. A lot of places out there would love to get this information.

But it's not limited to Pakistan. Certainly not limited to this one man.

Let's come back to the map over here for a second. You know we keep talking about North Korea. Concerns about North Korea is nuclear weapons program. Well, one of the concerns about North Korea is not only how much weaponry does it have but has it shared information?

And one thing we have been reporting for years that there are some concerns that North Korea may have given some nuclear secrets to Syria, which is pretty far west from them. But the idea here, again, this interconnected world with this black market trade in information and knowledge and in many cases secrets that are not supposed to get out of any one government.

Kyra, that is something that all the folks at this summit are hoping to crack down on as well.

PHILLIPS: So do we know how much money flies around in the black market for these nukes and for --

LEVS: Billions.

PHILLIPS: And for the secrets?

LEVS: For the secret, billions. You know there's no single figure out there that I trust well enough because it is a black market to say here's how much was traded last year. I can tell you that all the places that looked at this are very confident in saying that there are billions of dollars available out there kind of flowing their way within the system of this trade.

And that makes a lot of sense. Because nuclear weapons, unfortunately, give a rogue group or in some cases a nation some power. So you'll find that people who have this are certainly being, in some cases, pursued by groups out there that have access to insane amounts of money -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Josh, thanks.

LEVS: You got.

PHILLIPS: So much more ahead on the nuclear threat. Plus, President Obama opens up today's summit at the bottom of the hour. We're going to bring you those remarks live.

Meantime, we want to hear from you. Rotten economy, bitter health care battle, car recalls, bullying, mine explosions. With all the problems out there, how worried are you about loose nukes?

Go to my blog at CNN.com/Kyra. Post your comments. I'd love to read some of them on the air just a little later on in the newscast.

Heresy, the unspeakable word. Now voiced by the outspoken pastor. Why one priest is calling for Pope Benedict's resignation or else. The latest in the Vatican sex abuse scandal.

Plus more trouble for beleaguered carmaker Toyota. Its top of the line SUV slammed by a respected consumer watchdog.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Suffering with this the rest of you with this pollen, it still remains extremely high. A little bit of rain is trying to sneak over to the east coast and knock it down. We'll talk about that when weather comes up in about 10 minutes.

The CNN NEWSROOM is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: If a priest molests a child, call the cop. Makes sense and that's what we would expect, right? However that hasn't happened enough. But now the Vatican says it's overhauling rules on how to handle future allegations of sex abuse by its clergy.

The Vatican published a one-page summary outlining the approved steps the diocese should follow if a priest is accused of sexual misconduct. Most notable, notifying local police.

The Vatican says the updated guidance has been years in the making and is designed primarily to help the media better understand church procedures.

One brave priest here in the U.S. is already speaking out. He wants a more drastic and extremely unlikely measure in light of the sex abuse scandal. It's an idea that some consider heresy.

From CNN affiliate WCVB Janet Woo spoke with Father James Scahill, a definite ram among the flock.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FATHER JAMES SCAHILL, CALLS FOR POPE BENEDICT'S RESIGNATION: The Pope should step down if he's not prepared to embrace the truth relative to this matter.

JANET WOO, WCVB REPORTER: Do you think the Pope is being untruthful?

SCAHILL: I think he's not being truthful. WOO (voice-over): In his eight years here at St. Michael's Father Scahill has withheld money from the diocese until Richard Levine was de-froth and he's accused church leaders of inaptitude.

SCAHILL: By placing these weak men in further temptation, they frankly were as culpable of the victimization as the victimizer.

WOO: As for charges that he has been disobedient.

SCAHILL: This church will not have my optic obedience from me. Like the myopic obedience of the soldiers of Hitler. There's nothing more prolife than the better protection of children. From exploitation of any kind by any one, and yet this church has remained patently silent about this.

WOO: While his sermon was neither surprising nor out of character --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They couldn't help to rise to their feet and just applaud him for his bravery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had 1700 families. We're up to 2300 families in an eight-year period when other churches are closing.

WOO: But his parishioners worry.

(On camera): You're afraid for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am. My favorite term for the hierarchy in Rome is (speaking in foreign language). The Red Cosa Nostra.

SCAHILL: Of course, I'm afraid. My stomach has been jumping off and on for eight years. Of course, I'm afraid. But when a person comes to the point of not being afraid to die, how then can you possibly fear what anyone or any institution could do to you?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: That was Janet Woo reporting for us. We should add that Father Scahill's presiding bishop does not share the priest's views going as far as comparing Reverend Scahill to Doubting Thomas in the gospel.

More fallout over the seven--year-old shipped back to Russia by his adoptive mother. His return both unescorted and unannounced has outraged Russia and prompted calls for all adoptions to American parents to be halted.

The State Department says it will send top officials to Moscow this week to urge that adoptions continue. They're also asking that Russian authorities share any medical information or records that suggest the boy may have been abused in Tennessee.

The unannounced return of the boy seems to have sparked universal outrage. Few would disagree with that. But the big question is mired in gray areas. Were any laws broken? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The question is, if there was child endangerment or abandonment, which most of us think that there was, where did it take place? It doesn't seem to me that it took place in Tennessee. She was in charge of the child there.

She took the kid to the Washington, D.C. airport. And then he was then properly put on a United Airlines flight as an unaccompanied minor. I've had my kids fly that way, although not internationally at young ages. Many parents do that. I don't think that's endangerment or neglect at that point.

Where it really may have happened was in Russia. And then the question is, could Russia charge her? They're not going to extradite her from the U.S. to Russia to face what would probably be misdemeanor charges.

So there may not be any way to charge her. That may be the legal problem that all of the local authorities are dealing with right now.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: And Tennessee adoption agency assigned to check on the family says it had not been able to reach the woman since late last month. Agency officials say they could have helped the family with any behavioral issues and in the worst case scenario could have helped to find a new home for that boy.

Plucked to safety from a near certain death. 74-year-old Janet Hogan is in stable condition after being rescued from the rain swollen Walnut Creek. Police say they found Hogan miles downstream from there the family's car flipped into the canal during a heavy rainstorm Sunday.

The body of her 40-year-old son was found inside that vehicle. Authorities are still searching for her 79-year-old husband last seen floating down that waterway.

Rains have relented in Southern California but there is fresh snow in the Sierras. Is that right, Rob?

(WEATHER REPORT)

MARCIANO: Kyra, back over to you.

PHILLIPS: OK. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: OK. See you.

PHILLIPS: The DA says there is too much doubt. Star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger off the hook. Now talking for the first time since the sex scandal. I think we've seen this play before.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Crews searching for one person thought to be lost in the crash of a Navy training plane in North Georgia. Three other people on the plane died in that crash. Investigators are expected to arrive at the scene today. That plane took off from the Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida on what believed to be a routine training mission.

We don't prosecute morals. And with that, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger was off the hook. Accused of sexual assault, he won't face charges. The DA in Milledgeville, Georgia says that they were dropping the case for lack of clear evidence. The star QB spoke briefly after that decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN ROETHLISBERGER, STEELERS QUARTERBACK: I am truly sorry for the disappointment and negative attention I have brought to my family, my teammates, coaches, the Ronis, and the NFL.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Roethlisberger may not be out of the woods just yet. The NFL commissioner still wants to have a chat with him.

Bargain shoppers, have we got a deal for you. Buy one, get the second half price. It's just that. You will probably want to wait on the delivery.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Live pics right now. Just a couple of more bolts and apparently they're done. Two shuttle astronauts wrapping up their 6 1/2 hour spacewalk right now. It's actually the third and final planned excursion of this mission. They're working on the International Space Station's cooling system.

There's only three shuttle missions left, by the way, after Discovery lands. President Obama is actually scheduled to be at Cape Canaveral Thursday to talk about the future of NASA and the man space flight.

And a small step forward on extending unemployment benefits. But a Senate battle could leave more than a million people with nothing. Republicans are threatening to block the nearly $10 billion because they want to know how it will be paid for.

A vote could come as early as Thursday. But without any Republican support, it will be dead on arrival. Around 200,000 people had their benefits run out last week while the Senate was on vacation. Another one million could lose benefits if nothing gets done by the end of the month.

A deal you might find at the grocery store, you can now get at a graveyard. The city owned cemetery in Bellingham, Washington has a deal to die for. Buy one grave site, get the second, half price. But not everybody is ready to jump in. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess if you want to plan for the future, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not quite ready for that. I'm only 83. I mean, what can you expect?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are a business. And so we have to look at both sides.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Grave matter. The financial crisis had forced the city to look for creative money-making ventures.

I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account. Conan O'Brien in his own words, but the late-night comedian has now moved beyond his Twitter account landing a new gig at TBS, corporate cousin of CNN, by the way.

Maybe he'll co-anchor with me since we're family.

Well, Conan's show will start November -- in November sometime at 11:00 p.m. And as expected, his late-night competition is already taking jabs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Conan O'Brien today announced he will not go to FOX. He will instead move to a cable channel, TBS. And then later today, Jay Leno announced he will also move his show to TBS.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

KIMMEL: Ironically to make room for Conan, TBS is going to push George Lopez' talk show an hour later from 11:00 to midnight. But team lope-lope is going to go nuts.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: So it will be Lo and Co on TBS.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, if you're shopping for an SUV, here's one that you might want to scratch off your list. "Consumer Report" says don't buy it, it could be unsafe. We'll give you the details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Kyra Phillips.

PHILLIPS: Dow, 11000, we're there. The blue chips close above that level yesterday for the first time in 18 months. Now the question is, can it stay there?

Let's check in with Stephanie Elam in New York.

Hi, Steph.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra. Yes, it's going to be pretty much a hard level to maintain because we barely topped 11000 yesterday with just five points above and today we are expecting a lower open so -- they have to put the confetti away again.

Investors are worried that the expectation for the first quarter earnings may be too high. That's part of the issue. Yesterday, after the bell, Alcoa kicked off the reporting season and actually reported a smaller first quarter loss than a year ago. The company benefited from higher metal prices and greater demand, but Alcoa sales, they actually missed what the street was expecting, and Wall street appears that could set the tone for the entire reporting season.

You know, we also have some news about Twitter. They're no longer ad free. The microblogging site will start displaying advertisements from companies like Best Buy, Starbucks, and Sony Pictures. There is no doubt the Twitter is popular, but lately, there have been questions about how the site will make money. So, that's an issue that we see they're addressing here.

And taking a look at the markets and taking at Alcoa shares, they were down about 1 percent in the pre-market. Take a quick look now, they're down about 2 percent right now. The overall markets Dow on the downside by 7 points, 10,999, Nasdaq off two at 2,455, And before I go, Kyra, a little update here in the golf world. It's time for Tiger to move over, because Golfsmith and Callaway Golf are banking on Phil Mickelson's Masters win, Sunday. The companies will refund customers who bought specific golf clubs in March and early April. It was part of a promotion called if "Phil Wins, You Win." It's going to cost them $1 million, but Mickelson's wholesome image is taking the spotlight, and this week, you can see that that is working out for them -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Talk about two totally different golfers personally. You know, it's so great this.

ELAM: Completely. Very different images.

PHILLIPS: Yes, and there you know, his wife, Amy, fighting breast cancer, and that kiss, boy, tells it all. That's what it's all about.

ELAM: Everything. I know, it was all about that.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Steph.

All right. Let's take you live right now. The president of the United States. This is it. The class picture as we like to say. He is getting ready for his opening comments of the nuclear threat summit. As soon as it gets started, we will take you there live. If you are wondering why this is such a big deal, basically, we're talking about 36 heads of state and delegations from ten countries converging there on Washington, D.C. We'll be following, obviously, this summit throughout the afternoon.

President Obama, the world host and the negotiator, but, is this the right emphasis for the White House? You know, after all, jobs, the economy, still issue number one with the American people. Not nuclear threats. CNN White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is in Washington as we're watching this unfold.

Suzanne, that's always the moment, you know, that everybody wants to see who's there and what exactly could be accomplished. What do you think we can expect to hear from the president in his remarks?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, you know, it's a very good question. A lot of people are wondering, creating jobs, that really is the number one concern for many Americans, but White House officials believe that the president can actually do both. He can focus on creating jobs, the economy, the unemployment number, but also pointing to something that he believes is very important, and that is the threat of terrorists getting a hold of nuclear materials creating some sort of nuclear bomb and attacking the United States or other critical allies.

So, what you are going to hear from the president this morning, Kyra, in just a couple of minutes or so, is this idea that it's time for words to stop and we need to have action that these leaders need to come together and to think as one and to recognize nuclear terrorism as a serious threat. He is so convinced, Kyra, that the language here that he is using is really quite dramatic when you listen to it. I want to read a real quick excerpt.

This is what he is going to say. He's going to say that just the smallest amount of plutonium, about the size of an apple could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeed, they would surely use it.

Now, how do we know this is true? We can only count on White House officials and what they are saying, which is intelligence, points to the fact that they believe al Qaeda and other criminal gangs are trying to get their hands on this material. We've heard this from President Clinton. We've heard it from President Bush. We are now hearing it from President Obama, and what he is trying to do is create a sense of urgency, some momentum to get some of these other world leaders involved in trying to secure that nuclear material.

It's not an easy case to make. Some of these nations, India, Pakistan, they don't believe necessarily that that's a big problem, but for President Obama and some others, they do believe that this is a real threat to the United States and around the world -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Suzanne, we'll be watching it unfold right here live on CNN. Appreciate it so much.

So, what nuclear threats are we actually talking about? Not Russia launching a nuke at Kansas, no. Russia talking about a dirty bomb in the hands of al Qaeda, dropped in Times Square, the mall of America, Dodgers stadium, but how real is that threat? Sharon Squassoni is director and senior fellow of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

And, Sharon, it's great to have you with us as we're watching this live pictures of the summit about to get underway, and that's what we've been wanting to do is really put this in perspective for the average American who may be watching this saying, you know, I'm not worried about nukes. I don't want to be talking about, you know, the "what ifs." I want a job. I want my 401(k) to get better. I want health care benefits, but then, when you hear that al Qaeda has been trying to get its hands on nuclear weapons for more than a decade, OK, that makes me a little nervous.

SHARON SQUASSONI, DIRECTOR, PROLIFERATION PREVENTION PROGRAM, CSIS: Sure. We do have some evidence, for example, two Pakistani scientists provided some drawings to Bin Laden and also Werhiri (ph), so that is troubling. But we don't know too much about how far al Qaeda is along in that process. What we do know, however, is that there is a lot. There is tons of highly enriched uranium, 1600 tons and 500 tons of plutonium worldwide. And we need that. That would make an awful lot of bombs. And we need to make sure that that material is adequately secured.

PHILLIPS: Also, too, when you look at the number of leaders in this room, we're looking at live pictures, Sharon, right now, of the president of the United States mingling with various leaders here as they get ready to sit down for formal remarks and begin this summit, but you know, I'm looking at the numbers here. We're talking 36. I think I had the exact number here. Thirty-six heads of state and delegations from ten countries.

And some critics would say, OK, I'm looking at some of these leaders. I'm looking at some of these faces, and you know what, they would sell secrets for money. They would develop nukes for its own protection. I mean, some of these leaders are just showing up for a little face time here to try to make it look good, but hey, when it comes down to it, money talks.

SQUASSONI: I don't know about that. I mean, we do - there's a wide range of nations who are attending this summit. And certainly, everyone does want some face time with President Obama. There are some very important discussions going on on the sidelines. For example, with Hu Jintao, President Obama has been talking with him about sanctions on Iran. It's not really a question of selling the material.

Although, I think we do worry about that with states such as North Korea and Iran. The real issue, I think, is somebody leaves a gate open, someone forgets to turn on an alarm system. Where there are not very good, you know, guns, guards and gates for this material. So the issue is, let's put everything together to protect this material. Let's develop security cultures so that there are no lapses. PHILLIPS: Interesting. So, you think the threat is more infiltrators getting into a facility and stealing these materials versus these materials being sold on the black market?

SQUASSONI: The two are not necessarily inconsistent. I mean, you can have insider threats. People who work within facilities who decide that they want to sell some material or you can have outsider threats. Remember, just -- I can't remember the actual date, but there was an attack on the Pelandaba facility in South Africa where two armed teams attacked a facility that contained hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium, enough to make many bombs. And one of those teams actually got through a fence, an electrified fence, and they spent 45 minutes in that facility before being detected and apprehended.

So, there is a range of threats and that's the difficult part. You need to protect against insiders, outsiders, you need to protect against, you know, these terrorist attacks on facilities, which we've actually seen in Pakistan. So, you really want to create a web of security that goes right from the material to the facilities to, you know, better enforcement and export controls in a country.

PHILLIPS: Looks like the president is just getting ready to sit down and start his comments. When he does that, we will take it live, of course. Let's see. You guys let me know when the audio is connected and we begin. The president going over the beginning of this summit with his vice president there. Real quickly, Sharon -- he just popped on his mike. When he starts speaking, Sharon, I'm going to have to cut you off, but you know, talking about protecting nuclear stockpiles, you know, which countries do you think do the poorest jobs of doing that?

SQUASSONI: It's hard to say. When a country does a poor job, it may mean that it doesn't really know all the steps it has to take. It may be unintentional in some cases. The countries that we worry about, though, are those that have trouble implementing regulations, that may have a lot of material in a lot of different places, and of course, I think we continue to worry about Pakistan and Russia. Russia has an awful lot of this material, and it just takes a lot of time and effort to go through all the steps to secure this material and consolidate it.

PHILLIPS: And Suzanne Malveaux, you're there at the White House. You actually got a chance to see some of the excerpts of the president's remarks that he's just about to get. He makes the point that the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.

MALVEAUX: Yes, that's right. And I have to apologize for the construction noise in the background, but that's one of the things that the president is going to talk about, the fact that, you know, the whole game here has changed. Everything has really turned around. They're no longer worried about super powers like Russia. No longer worried about state players. Although, there are a few Iran and North Korea, as exceptions, but mostly, it is about these smaller groups, these rogue groups, these terrorist organizations getting their hands on some of these nuclear materials.

There has been some progress already in some of the side discussions, side bar conversations that he's had, President Obama meeting with the head of the Ukraine yesterday and then announcing that they're going to go ahead and turn over some of their nuclear materials to be secured in another country. The big question, of course, Kyra, is it United States or is it Russia? Those are really the two most secure places that have been identified that these kind of materials could be held and it would make a big difference if it was the United States or Russia.

There were some other questions that came up yesterday to Robert Gibbs. You talk about Yucca Mountain in Nevada, and the nuclear waste that is being stored there and all the controversy around that domestically. How are people going to feel if the United States really does become this kind of repository for these nuclear materials? Is it safe? That is something that U.S. officials have to answer. They have to grabble with and say, OK, we're taking on this responsibility. All of the sudden, it becomes the Obama administration's job to make sure that those loose nukes are actually secure.

PHILLIPS: I don't know if you can answer this question. I'm going to throw it out, Suzanne, because I never know what you know. You've always got a wealth of information. As I'm looking at the lineup here, I'm looking at the president and who is sitting right next to him. I notice the Republic of Korea is sitting right to his right. They just zoomed out. So, I can't see the other countries that are close to him. Is this strategically planned, who is closest to the president?

MALVEAUX: Certainly who has the president's ear is planned. And you know, you have those sideline meetings, those are very important, the most important if you will, because he's taking time out of his schedule to really have those one-on-one conversations, but it's no mistake. No accident that you have the representative from South Korea who's sitting right beside him. North Korea being a major player and a major threat, obviously, when it comes to its own nuclear program. And so, yes, that's a leader who is going to want to get some face time with President Obama. They're obviously going to be talking about the threat from North Korea.

PHILLIPS: Sharon, when you look at all the heavy hitters here around the president, next to the president, does this send a message? Is it a message that's being heard by countries like Iran and North Korea? Is Kim Jong-Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, you know, watching the tube, wondering what's going to happen here?

SQUASSONI: Oh, absolutely. The message is loud and clear that we have, you know, over 40 nations who agree that we need to protect this material against nuclear terrorism. And the message to North Korea and Iran consistently has been do not even think about selling nuclear material or nuclear weapons in the case of North Korea to terrorist organizations. This is really also very important the month before 180 plus nations meet in New York to review the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Typically, those reviews or at least the last two reviews have been very contentious, where there were a lot of -- there were a lot of differences between the non nuclear weapons states and the nuclear weapons states.

So this meeting today where you see a good deal of agreement; you see these very powerful leaders together. That sends a very, very positive message.

PHILLIPS: Here we go, Sharon. Let's watch it.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning, everybody. I'd like to get started. Let me begin by thanking all of you for your participation last night. I thought it was a very important discussion.

Before I begin, I want to take this moment once again to acknowledge the terrible tragedy that struck the Polish people this weekend. We are joined today by a distinguished delegation from Poland, led by Ambassador Kupiecki. Mr. Ambassador, all of us were shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating loss of President Kaczynski, the First Lady, and so many distinguished civilian and military leaders from your country. This was a loss, not just for Poland, but for the world.

As a close friend and ally, the United States stands with Poland and Poles everywhere in these very difficult days. As an international community, I know that we will all rally around the Polish people, who have shown extraordinary strength and resilience throughout their history. So our hearts go out to your people. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We join them in this time of mourning. And so, if everybody is agreeable, I would like to ask for a moment of silence to show that solidarity and to honor those who were lost.

(MOMENT OF SILENCE)

Thank you. It is my privilege to welcome you to Washington and to formally convene this historic summit. We represent 47 nations from every region of the world, and I thank each of you for being here. This is an unprecedented gathering to address an unprecedented threat.

Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history -- the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.

Nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into a nuclear weapon exist in dozens of nations. Just the smallest amount of plutonium -- about the size of an apple -- could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Terrorist networks such as Al Qaida have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it. Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world -- causing extraordinary loss of life, and striking a major blow to global peace and stability. In short, it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security -- to our collective security.

And that's why, one year ago today in -- one year ago in Prague, I called for a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years. This is one part of a broader, comprehensive agenda that the United States is pursuing -- including reducing our nuclear arsenal and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons -- an agenda that will bring us closer to our ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Over the past year, we've made progress. At the United Nations Security Council last fall, we unanimously passed Resolution 1887 endorsing this comprehensive agenda, including the goal of securing all nuclear materials. Last night, in closed session, I believe we made further progress, pursuing a shared understanding of the grave threat to our people.

And today, we have the opportunity to take the next steps.

We have the opportunity, as individual nations, to take specific and concrete actions to secure the nuclear materials in our countries and to prevent illicit trafficking and smuggling. That will be our focus this morning.

We have the opportunity to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, with the resources and authorities it needs to meet its responsibilities. That will be our focus at our working lunch.

We have the opportunity, as an international community, to deepen our cooperation and to strengthen the institutions and partnerships that help prevent nuclear materials from ever falling into the hands of terrorists. And that will be our focus this afternoon.

And we have the opportunity, as partners, to ensure that our progress is not a fleeting moment, but part of a serious and sustained effort. And that's why I am so pleased to announce that President Lee has agreed to host the next Nuclear Security Summit in the Republic of Korea in two years. This reflects South Korea's leadership, regionally and globally, and I thank President Lee and the South Korean people for their willingness to accept this responsibility.

I'd ask President Lee just to say a few words.

LEE MYUNG-BAK, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Thank you for calling us, for supporting Korea to host next summit in 2012.

I assure you I will do best to make this summit a success. So I hope to see all of you in Korea. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you very much. So today is an opportunity -- not simply to talk, but to act. Not simply to make pledges, but to make real progress on the security of our people. All this, in turn, requires something else, which is something more fundamental. It will require a new mindset -- that we summon the will, as nations and as partners, to do what this moment in history demands.

I believe strongly that the problems of the 21st century cannot be solved by any one nation acting in isolation. They must be solved by all of us coming together.

At the dawn of the nuclear age that he helped to unleash, Albert Einstein said: "Now everything has changed." And he warned: "We are drifting towards a catastrophe beyond comparison. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive."

That truth endures today. For the sake of our common security, for the sake of our survival, we cannot drift. We need a new manner of thinking -- and action. That is the challenge before us. And I thank all of you for being here to confront that challenge together, in partnership.

And with that, I'm going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.

PHILLIPS: We hate it when that happens, when the press has to exit. That's why we're going to bring Suzanne Malveaux at the White House back in and also Sharon Squassoni, our expert on nuclear weapons and the threat thereof.

Suzanne, maybe we should go ahead and explain to our viewers why it operates this way. Like what we just saw there -- went to bars. We get the remarks. We get to see who's there. We get to see the mingling and then it's, you know, satellite off.

MALVEAUX: Closed to the press.

PHILLIPS: Right. Right.

MALVEAUX: Closed to the press. And then we'll see them emerge from these meetings and then they'll have a working lunch. We'll probably get a couple of pictures of that in the next session.

And then, of course, the President later this afternoon is going to be holding a press conference. He'll take some questions from the international media as well as the White House Press Corps.

You brought up a good point when you asked why it was that the leader of South Korea was sitting next to the President. Well, we got a sense too that President Lee there is going to be hosting the next nuclear security summit in his own country. So that's very significant as well.

And what we're expecting here out of this, when this is all wrapped up today is a document -- a communique, if you will, for these leaders to sign on to. We pretty much already know what this document is going to say.

It's essentially recognizing that nuclear terrorism is a serious threat, that these world leaders agree with President Obama's plan to try to secure some of these nuclear materials within four years or so and that they're also going to be making their own pledges in their own countries to try to make sure that those materials are safe and secure.

The bottom line here is it's not a legal document; it's simply a political document of intention. This is what these world leaders want to do; this is what they hope to accomplish.

But it really is going to be in those international organizations to hold those countries to account. So we will have to see how this develops over time and whether or not this summit is really a success. And that is going to take months and perhaps years to see if people are really serious about this issue.

PHILLIPS: Great point. Sharon, let me ask you that. Suzanne lays it out there. We're talking about a document. You know, really, how much weight does this summit hold?

SQUASSONI: Well, I think the primary objective of this summit is to increase awareness of this threat and to really get states to say, yes, they're willing to do something.

The first statement that we heard yesterday from Ukraine that it would eliminate over 150 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium. That was a very, very positive precedent. So we hope that we see more statements like that this morning.

One of the things that they could do this afternoon when they talk about international collaboration is get firm commitments by states to ratify an amendment to a very important document which is the convention on the physical protection of nuclear material. That amendment which requires states to physically protect material at home, that's very important, and it hasn't entered into force even for the United States. So that could also be a very concrete measure that comes out of this.

If I could, I would just like to comment a little bit on the role of South Korea. I think, you know, many thought that Russia would host the next nuclear security summit. This is a huge, diplomatic coup for South Korea which is now emerging as a new nuclear supplier.

The United Arab Emirates recently chose South Korea to buy reactors from. It didn't choose France and it didn't choose the United States. So this is really South Korea moving into the spotlight in a very positive way, not just as a nuclear supplier but also in these very important security and nonproliferation issues.

PHILLIPS: Sharon Squassoni, director and senior fellow at the Proliferation Prevention Program at CSIS, that's the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I wanted to make sure I got that full plug in there. You've done great work Sharon. Thank you so much. And our Suzanne Malveaux there, of course, at the White House. We will continue to follow the nuclear summit throughout the morning and the afternoon. Thanks to you both.

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