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Ukraine to surrender nuclear materials, but Pakistan says no

Reuters

Day one of US President Barack Obama’s nuclear arms summit was marked by a pledge by Ukraine to renounce its bomb-grade uranium. But Pakistan defended its nuclear rights, shooting down concerns extremists could seize loose weapons.

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told Obama he would give up 90 kilograms of Ukraine's highly enriched uranium, the equivalent of several bombs. The former Soviet republic is the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion.

Canada and Chile made similar promises on their own smaller stockpiles.

But Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who controls the Islamic world's only declared nuclear arsenal, rebuffed calls to halt production of fissile material and insisted his country needed a deterrent against India.

"I assure you that Pakistan, as a responsible nuclear state and an emerging democracy, stands with the international community in its effort to make this world a better place to live in," Gilani said.

Hours before the summit opened, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told CBS News France would not give up its nuclear weapons, because doing so would jeopardize its security.

"I cannot jeopardize the security and safety of my country … we're a country of 65 million inhabitants, and we have fewer conventional weapons than the US, than Russia, than China, for that matter,” Sarkozy said.

Obama is urging world leaders at the 47-nation Washington summit to harden their resolve to lock down nuclear material and keep atomic weapons out of terrorist.

On Tuesday, the last day of the summit, the United States and Russia were to sign an accord on tidying up plutonium reserves. The deal spells out elimination of the countries' excess plutonium stores.

But US hopes of sealing a deal for sanctions against Iran, which it believes is covertly working on a nuclear weapon, were dented, with China insisting sanctions are not the answer.

"China always believes that dialogue and negotiation are the best way out for the issue. Pressure and sanctions cannot fundamentally solve it," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

But to the contrary, a top White House official said Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed their delegations would work together at the United Nations on a push to impose sanctions against Iran.

Iran also denied any suggestion that China was now backing the US stance.

"We have a different understanding than yours of the comments made after the meeting of US and Chinese officials," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Iran said on Tuesday that foreign ministers from 15 countries will take part in a two-day nuclear disarmament conference to be held in Tehran on April 17 and 18.

Mehmanparast did not name the countries attending the meeting, but said the conference was being held following a "collective will of some independent and free-willed nations to genuinely confront the use of nuclear weapons in today's world."

He dismissed the Washington summit, saying the host was the holder of one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the world.

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