Andrea Mitchell   |  January 10, 2014

Nuclear security improvements needed

Sam Nunn shares details from the report released by the Nuclear Threat Initiative which focused on nuclear security and North Korea.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the remaining nuclear issues with the west. but they say nothing is final. iran's nuclear program and north korea 's weapons are part of the latest report from the nuclear threat initiative . i sat down with the tlesh initiative's leader, sam nunn , a leading expert on nuclear proliferation .

>> and joining me now is sam nunn , the head of the nuclear threat initiative . you have -- congratulations, you have achieved a great deal just in the last two years. seven fewer countries have nuclear material . but one that still does is obviously north korea . we've seen this crazy trip to north korea by dennis rodman . you have a dictator there whom no one seems to understand who executed his uncle, the power behind the throne . we have a very unstable world.

>> there's no doubt about that. both iran and north korea are serious problems and the world has to cooperate to deal with those problems. of course, iran doesn't have the weapons yet as far as we know and north korea does. they are in different categories but both extremely dangerous . the good news the index we put together is a score card on nuclear material security. we know a couple of things that are very important. terrorists would like to get weapons nuclear material and have the know how available to build a weapon. we know if they get the material and build a crude weapon, they'll use it. we know that the hardest job they've got is to get nuclear material and that's what we've got to make impossible if we can. so the good news is that we have gone from 50 countries in 1992 to 25 that have weapons useable nuclear material on the territory. just in the last two years and i think president obama 's nuclear summits have had an effect on this. we've gone from 32 to 25 countries. so it's moving in the right direction but there is a long, long way to go and has to be sustainability of this effort. the effort can't end after president obama 's leaves office. we have to have the withhohole world engaged and we're trying to have a school card and measuring 56 different categories with countries all over the world. other countries that everyone has a duty to make sure that territory is not used to store stolen material or transport stolen material. it's a big index an we hope it will be stimulative for netherlands security conference in march.

>> how important is it for us to negotiate a nuclear agreement with iran if iran does not agree to limits on its nuclear program , there's the possibility of proliferation by saudi arabia and others in the region who have the money and actually financed nuclear program before and can call it due. they don't have to work on the science.

>> we have a real dilemma with iran . if they get a nuclear weapon , you're exactly right, there will be other countries within the decade in the region that will get nuclear weapons or try. and region will become much more dangerous and it already is dangerous. if we have to go to war, that has huge downside risks. trying to get them to negotiate in good faith is what the sanctions have been all about. fortunately the world has joined in the sanctions, they are very effective sanctions and it's very important now to let it play out and hope congress will let it play out and let's really test the iranians . the one thing we don't want to do is erode the coalition. if we do erode the coalition and iranians don't make a deal in good faith, we will not be able to restore those sanctions the way they are now. i hope congress will work with the president on this one. this is one of those times where congress and the administration really need to be on the same wave length if america is going to be able to continue to have the credibility to lead this kind of alliance which has been very effective in getting the iranians to the table.

>> it's been a while since a nunn from georgia was in politics, but you now have your daughter, michelle nunn, running quite a race and raised overall upwards of $3 million now.

>> well, she has done a remarkable job and has a lot of support. she spent 25 years inspiring young people to volunteer all over georgia and all over america . and indeed around the world. so michelle has become a really good candidate. she has not been in political office but she has been in business of inspiring people and most important to me and i think if she gets elected to washington is, she really wants to come to washington to find people on both sides of the aisle to work with. she believes we ought to concentrate on solving problems and get off some of the idealogical extremes that have brought progress on any number of issues. she wants to work with republicans and wants to work with democrats and solve problems. we're very proud of her. she's got -- healthy about her fund-raising is she's got over 10,000 people who have contributed and that's an average of under $100 and she's got something like 8,000 volunteers so in a red state she has an uphill climb but has a real shot.

>> i remember covering you in the senate in the years when politics actually worked and the senate did things and so did the house. it's been broken for whitequite a while now. lots of luck with the mission.

>> i remember when i left the senate, i made a talk at the pentagon and i said i never had a major piece of legislation pass without a republican co-sponsor and i think we've got to find a way to get back to that. most of america 's problems are not ideological. most of them are really solving problems. that's particularly true with the fiscal situation. hopefully both parties, republicans and democrats, will begin to elect people who are willing to work together and who understand the art of government and governances compromise and food faith.

>> sam nunn , thank you very