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President Barack Obama said he is disappointed that the United States and Russia have not made as much progress in nuclear arms reduction as he would've liked.
Speaking at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Obama addressed members of the media following his fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit of 2016. There, the president said that Russian President Vladimir Putin prioritization of defense is slowing efforts.
"Because Mr. Putin came into power, or returned to his office as president, and because of the vision that he's been pursuing of emphasizing military might over development inside of Russia and diversifying the economy, we have not seen the kind of progress that I would've hoped for with Russia," he said.
Putin, whose massive nuclear weapons stockpile is rivaled only by the U.S., refused to attend this year's summit. Moscow scoffed at what it deemed U.S. efforts to control the process and take power away from international agencies. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistani, another nuclear-armed country, canceled his trip following a bombing that killed 72.
Frustration over the slow pace of reducing nuclear stockpiles shadowed the final day of the summit, Obama's last major push on denuclearization. Though Obama planned to tout the Iran nuclear deal as evidence of progress, the absence of key players — especially Russia — underscored the lack of unanimity still confronting global efforts to deter nuclear attacks.
After six years of prodding by Obama and others before him, the global stockpile of fissile material that could be used in nuclear bombs remains in the thousands of metric tons. What's more, security officials warn that the radioactive ingredients for a "dirty bomb" are alarmingly insecure in many parts of the globe.
"We have not only great urgency around the nuclear issue, but eliminating generally the scourge of terrorism," Obama said during a meeting Thursday with French President Francois Hollande, as he reflected on recent attacks in Brussels and Paris.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.