By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly 30 experts in global nuclear security on Thursday urged the administration of President Joe Biden to restore US leadership in fissile materials to reduce the threat that militants use them to create weapons. The global security of materials such as plutonium and highly enriched uranium received “limited high-level attention” from the administration of former President Donald Trump, experts said in a letter to about six officials from the State Department, the Department of Energy and the National Security Council. “America’s leadership on this issue has weakened and international progress has slowed,” wrote experts, including Sharon Squassoni of George Washington University and William Tobey of Harvard University, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters. He recommended the launch of a comprehensive plan to secure the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons, fissile materials and nuclear facilities where sabotage could cause catastrophe. The administration should increase funding for the issue, which the letter called “an investment in national security against the threats of nuclear and radiological terrorism.” Washington should also increase financial and political support for the International Atomic Energy Agency and improve diplomacy on the issue. Last week, Russia and Washington extended the New START arms control treaty for five years, preserving the last pact limiting the deployments of the world’s two largest strategic nuclear arsenals. But international work has slowed in recent years to secure fissile materials in research reactors and in bulk at sites after the dismantling of nuclear weapons in Russia and some countries of the former Soviet Union, said Miles Pomper, principal investigator. from the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies. Washington doesn’t “have much perspective on what they’re doing and it seems like they’ve slowed down on a lot of things, like minimizing their highly enriched uranium reserves,” Pomper said.
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