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2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit Theme"Beyond Security Towards Peace"

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Seoul summit brings global community step closer to nuclear free world

2012-03-27 20:50

Communique focuses on removal of nuclear materials, nuclear safety

The Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul has apparently brought the international community one step closer to the goal of a safer world by drawing up more concrete steps backed by stronger political momentum.

The Seoul summit has yielded practical high-level agreements to enhance nuclear security whereas the inaugural summit in Washington in 2010 was part of nascent global efforts to tackle nuclear terrorism, experts said.

“The difference between the Seoul and Washington summits is that the inaugural one was declarative in its nature while the Seoul forum was more practical with concrete plans to spur efforts for nuclear security,” said Jun Bong-Gen, director of the Center for Nonproliferation and Security of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

U.S. President Barack Obama initiated the summit in 2010 to tackle nuclear terrorism in a consensual, multilateral way at a time of economic challenges -- a departure from his predecessor George W. Bush’s approach, which some called “unilateral.”

Then, he put forward his vision of a “four-year lockdown” of all vulnerable nuclear materials.

As part of efforts to address the issue of highly-enrichment uranium convertible for military purposes, the Seoul Communique encouraged participants to announce specific voluntary actions to minimize HEU by the end of 2013.

The moves by each state are expected to lead to a significant reduction in nuclear arms. Currently, there exist 1,600 tons of HEU and 500 tons of plutonium -- enough to build 126,000 nuclear weapons.

World leaders attend the first session of the Nuclear Security Summit at the COEX in Seoul, Monday. From left are Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev, U.S. President Barack Obama, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, King of Jordan Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and South African President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

Under a U.S.-Russia deal struck at the Washington summit, the two countries are currently working on disposing of 68 tons of plutonium, enough to make 17,000 nuclear weapons.

The communique also calls for strengthening the two major nuclear security pacts -- the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

The leaders at the summit, in particular, agreed to work together to bring the CPPNM into force by 2014. The ratification of the CPPNM and the ICSANT has yet to be finalized.

Such efforts are expected to brighten the prospect of a new international nuclear security regime aimed at preventing nuclear and radioactive materials from falling into the hands of malicious non-state actors such as terrorists.

“There is a possibility that the summit will lead to an international regime for nuclear security as leaders of 53 nations gathered here, which attests to the growing consensus over the importance of nuclear security and protection of nuclear materials,” said Nam Chang-hee, political science professor at Inha University.

There has so far been no specific, regular entity focusing on nuclear security. Proliferation issues have been handled by the U.N. Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency, while the issue of arms reduction is dealt with under a strategic U.S.-Russia pact.

Jun of the KNDA said the nuclear summit will move forward discussions on a new security regime.

“As Obama has the vision of the four-year lockdown process, after the next summit in the Netherlands in 2014, leaders will get together to discuss the need for further summits, which will spark new discussions over the development of a new nuclear security regime,” he said.

Chun In-young, professor emeritus at Seoul National University, noted that there could be some obstacles in the process of establishing a new regime.

“Russia and China have a lukewarm stance on nuclear issues involving Iran. If they are not cooperative while seeking to keep others in check, the process (of forming a regime) could slow down. It is the reality of international politics,” he said.

What was notable in the Seoul forum was the summit extended its anti-nuclear terrorism agenda to include the issue of nuclear safety, which has emerged as a hot-button issue since last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“Acknowledging that safety measures and security measures have in common the aim of protecting human life and health and the environment, we affirm that nuclear safety measures should be designed, implemented and managed in nuclear facilities in a coherent and synergistic manner,” read the communique.

Taking up the safety issue, which concerns most of the nations relying on nuclear power plants for electricity, the Seoul summit gained more attention than the previous one which limited its agenda to nuclear terrorism some nations feel unrelated to.

In a bid to ensure nuclear safety, the Seoul summit supported the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to organize meetings to provide relevant recommendations on the overlap between nuclear security and safety.

By hosting the summit, Seoul has received the spotlight as a nation leading the global agenda of nuclear security, Jun said.

“The summit has helped raise Seoul’s diplomatic standing, which in turn has helped enhance its national credibility. All this would be conducive to creating a favorable environment for Seoul to carry out its diplomatic activities on the global stage,” he said.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldm.com)

I taught the theme was interesting reading, I know we all will say it isn't something new about it but aren't we all waiting for "the cry for peace and security" I hope some of you that understand and speak English can "digg" up something from the meeting. I dint know this was the "theme" before I saw a news reporter in front of a billboard (or something) at the conference. Christian love to you all.

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I taught the theme was interesting reading, I know we all will say it isn't something new about it but aren't we all waiting for "the cry for peace and security" I hope some of you that understand and speak English can "digg" up something from the meeting. I dint know this was the "theme" before I saw a news reporter in front of a billboard (or something) at the conference. Christian love to you all.

Thanks for sharing. Yes the phrase or something similar of "peace and security" has been tossed around before in the world, but nevertheless it will be interesting to see how it intensifies for the final unmistakable cry mentioned in the Bible.

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