World leaders gather for Hague Nuclear Summit

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World leaders gather for Hague Nuclear Summit
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (C) of Nigeria arrives on March 22, 2014 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) held in The Hague on March 24-25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL/ PHIL NIJHUIS (Photo credit should read PHIL NIJHUIS/AFP/Getty Images)
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (C) of Nigeria arrives on March 22, 2014 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) held in The Hague on March 24-25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL/ PHIL NIJHUIS (Photo credit should read PHIL NIJHUIS/AFP/Getty Images)
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (C) of Nigeria arrives on March 22, 2014 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) held in The Hague on March 24-25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL/ PHIL NIJHUIS (Photo credit should read PHIL NIJHUIS/AFP/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: Prime Minister Steven Harper of Canada arrives at Schiphol Amsterdam airport on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Nuclear Security Summit 2014 is held on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague. (Photo by Phil Nijhuis - Pool/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: Prime Minister Steven Harper of Canada arrives at Schiphol Amsterdam airport on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Nuclear Security Summit 2014 is held on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague. (Photo by Phil Nijhuis - Pool/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: Prime Minister Steven Harper of Canada arrives at Schiphol Amsterdam airport on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Nuclear Security Summit 2014 is held on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague. (Photo by Phil Nijhuis - Pool/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: Chinese President Xi Jinping and King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands toast at the state banquet at the Royal Palace upon the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Xi Jinping is on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands ahead of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, which will be held on March 24-25. on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: Chinese President Xi Jinping, King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands have the official photo taken at the Royal Palace upon the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Xi Jinping is on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands ahead of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, which will be held on March 24-25. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: (L-R) Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese President Xi Jinping, King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands have the official photo taken at the Royal Palace upon the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Xi Jinping is on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands ahead of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, which will be held on March 24-25. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: China's President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan wave as they exit their aircraft prior to being greeted by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at Schiphol Amsterdam airport on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Xi Jinping is on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands ahead of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, which will be held on March 24-25. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre, right) and King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands review the honour guard upon Xi's arrival at Schiphol International Airport on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Xi Jinping is on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands ahead of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, which will be held on March 24-25. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands (2nd,L) and President Xi Jinping of China review the honour guards upon Xi's arrival at Schiphol International Airport on March 22, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Xi Jinping is on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands ahead of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, which will be held on March 24-25. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 21: The chief negotiators (sherpa's) of the participating countries are in talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare their Heads of Delegation for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on March 21, 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands. The Nuclear Security Summit 2014 is held on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague. (Photo by Koen Van Weel - Pool/Getty Images)
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 21: The chief negotiators (sherpa's) of the participating countries are in talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare their Heads of Delegation for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on March 21, 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands. The Nuclear Security Summit 2014 is held on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague. (Photo by Koen Van Weel - Pool/Getty Images)
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 21: The chief negotiators (sherpa's) of the participating countries are in talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare their Heads of Delegation for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on March 21, 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands. The Nuclear Security Summit 2014 is held on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague. (Photo by Koen Van Weel - Pool/Getty Images)
A picture shows the American flag hanging in the Expo Haarlemmermeer in Vijfhuizen, on March 20, 2014, which will function as an extra luggage hall and parking lot for delegations arriving for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). Over 50 leaders are to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague on March 24, 2014 to seek ways of preventing a terrorist nuclear attack, at a key summit that risks being overshadowed by the explosive Ukraine crisis. AFP PHOTO / ANP / REMKO DE WAAL **NETHERLANDS OUT** (Photo credit should read REMKO DE WAAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Preparations at the World Forum in The Hague on March 19, 2014. The conference centre is being prepared for the the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague scheduled to be held on 24 and 25 March. AFP PHOTO / POOL - BART MAAT (Photo credit should read BART MAAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A screen displaying the name of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will apparently represent Russia at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), is picrtured at the World Forum in The Hague on March 19, 2014. The conference centre is being prepared for the the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague scheduled to be held on 24 and 25 March. AFP PHOTO / POOL - BART MAAT (Photo credit should read BART MAAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the Expo Haarlemmermeer in Vijfhuizen, on March 20, 2014, which will function as an extra luggage hall and parking lot for delegations arriving for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). Over 50 leaders are to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague on March 24, 2014 to seek ways of preventing a terrorist nuclear attack, at a key summit that risks being overshadowed by the explosive Ukraine crisis. AFP PHOTO / ANP / REMKO DE WAAL **NETHERLANDS OUT** (Photo credit should read REMKO DE WAAL/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks in the Expo Haarlemmermeer in Vijfhuizen, on March 20, 2014, which will function as an extra luggage hall and parking lot for delegations arriving for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). Over 50 leaders are to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague on March 24, 2014 to seek ways of preventing a terrorist nuclear attack, at a key summit that risks being overshadowed by the explosive Ukraine crisis. AFP PHOTO / ANP / REMKO DE WAAL **NETHERLANDS OUT** (Photo credit should read REMKO DE WAAL/AFP/Getty Images)
The main hall at the World Forum in The Hague is pictured on March 19, 2014. The conference centre is being prepared for the the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague scheduled to be held on 24 and 25 March. AFP PHOTO / POOL - BART MAAT (Photo credit should read BART MAAT/AFP/Getty Images)
The main hall at the World Forum in The Hague is pictured on March 19, 2014. The conference centre is being prepared for the the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague scheduled to be held on 24 and 25 March. AFP PHOTO / POOL - BART MAAT (Photo credit should read BART MAAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees work outside the World Forum in The Hague on March 19, 2014. The conference centre is being prepared for the the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague scheduled to be held on 24 and 25 March. AFP PHOTO / POOL - BART MAAT (Photo credit should read BART MAAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Sniffer dogs and their supervisors practice at the World forum, on March 18, 2014 in the Hague, one week ahead of the Nuclear security summit (NSS) an event aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism around the globe that will be held on 24 and 25 March. AFP PHOTO/ANP POOL FREEK VAN DEN BERGH (Photo credit should read Freek van den Bergh/AFP/Getty Images)
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AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Nuclear terrorism is officially the main topic for world leaders at a two-day summit in the Netherlands starting Monday. In practice, the Ukraine crisis will likely overshadow those talks.

The Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague will form the backdrop for an emergency meeting of Group of Seven leaders on Russia's annexation of Crimea. It's a confrontation between Russia and the West reminiscent of the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending, instead sending Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is expected to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

But experts say frantic diplomacy focused on Ukraine shouldn't divert from the goal of better security of nuclear material.

"International attention can turn in a moment," said Deepti Choubey, a senior director at the non-government Nuclear Threat Initiative. "The attentions of terrorists do not."

Delegations from 53 countries, including the leaders of the U.S., China and Japan, have started to arrive in the Hague. They will meet to negotiate on reducing and securing supplies, and keeping them out of terrorists' hands. The G-7 includes the U.S., Britain, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and Canada.

Notable absentees from the summit are North Korea and Iran, excluded by mutual consent.

The summit is the third since US President Barack Obama launched the series in 2009 shortly after taking office, saying that reducing the risk of a terrorist attack with either a nuclear weapon or a "dirty bomb" was one of his most important international policy goals.

Because countries usually regard protecting nuclear weapons and facilities as a confidential sovereign matter, the summits center on individual commitments by participants and conclude with a non-binding accord.

Still, they already have reached tangible results.

The number of countries that possess enough highly enriched uranium or plutonium to make a bomb has fallen steadily, from 39 before the first conference in Washington in 2010 to 25 at the start of the Hague summit.

Piet de Klerk, the Dutch diplomat who chaired negotiations before the summit, says a further large drop in numbers is unlikely.

But he says The Hague closing accord will likely include a new commitment to reduce plutonium stores. That is particularly relevant for Japan, which owns a large plutonium stockpile even as it reevaluates its use of nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Additionally, the Netherlands, with help from the U.S. and South Korea, is weaving together all existing nuclear arms treaties, agreements and voluntary guidelines for military, industry and civilian use into a single package of "best practices" for nuclear security. The three host nations and an unknown number of others will vow to adhere to this package as much as possible.

Kenneth Luongo, of the Partnership for Global Security, said that the willingness of countries to commit to "essentially what's already on the books" will act as a litmus test to show which countries are taking security seriously.

"I would hope that by 2016 everybody would be on board," he said.

What's likely to be left for a final summit back in Washington in 2016 is a mechanism for countries to request a confidential independent review of their security practices, presumably conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

While Ukraine is likely to dominate diplomacy behind the scenes in The Hague, it already is a nuclear success story.

The country voluntarily gave the nuclear weapons housed on its soil back to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and following through on a 2010 summit promise, has recently disposed of its remaining stock of around 80 kilograms (176 pounds) of highly enriched uranium.

Choubey of the NTI said that underlines the importance of the process.

"How much more concerned would the world be today (about the crisis in Ukraine) if that material were still there?" she said.
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