WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama reiterated his call Tuesday for the United States to play a leading role in the fight against nuclear proliferation.
It is critical to "reduce and ultimately eliminate" the risk posed by nuclear weapons at a time when organizations like al Qaeda are seeking fissile material and countries like Iran are trying to acquire a nuclear capability, Obama said.
The president pledged to take "verifiable steps" on the issue, which he said had a long tradition of "bipartisan support" at key junctures in U.S. history.
Obama made his remarks at the end of an Oval Office meeting on U.S. non-proliferation policy with former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia.
Schultz, who served under President Reagan, told Obama that the issue is "really non-partisan."
Obama urged nations to get rid of nuclear weapons at a speech in Prague at the beginning of April. He called such arms "the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War" and said the U.S. is committed to reducing nuclear stocks within the next four years.
Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have announced that their countries will begin negotiations aimed at reducing their respective nuclear arsenals.
"One of the things I have always believed strongly is that both the United States and Russia and other nuclear powers will be in a much stronger position to strengthen what has become a somewhat fragile thread-bare nonproliferation treaty if we are leading by example and if we can take serious steps to reduce the nuclear arsenal," Obama said during an April 1 news conference.
Obama is slated to travel to Moscow in July.