On March 27, 2012 Duyeon Kim, Deputy Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, was quoted in AFP, carried by Singapore’s AsiaOne, about the results of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
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Nuclear summit makes modest progress: experts
SEOUL – World leaders made modest progress in efforts to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism during a summit in South Korea that ended Tuesday, but more vision and commitment is needed, experts said.
US President Barack Obama in 2010 hosted a first summit in Washington, aimed at securing or destroying the world’s stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) by 2014.
Despite some major achievements since then, however, a tepid final communique released on Tuesday at the end of the second summit in Seoul indicated an uncertain road ahead for the process, experts said.
“What we really needed from this summit was a little bit more vision on how to move beyond where we are today,” said Ken Luongo, co-chair of the Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), a grouping of non-proliferation experts.
Luongo said the blueprint going forward had been watered down because of the varying commitment levels of countries around the world.
“The problem with this process is that it has devolved to a lowest common denominator through the negotiation process,” he said.
“The challenge of this summit process going into Netherlands (the next summit in 2014) is to open up the vision so that there is a big picture perspective on what we need to do to prevent nuclear terrorism.”
The communique, representing the views of all 53 nations at the summit, pledged strong action on safeguarding the world’s stockpiles of nuclear material.
It emphasised the need to secure stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium, small amounts of which can be used to make devastating bombs.
Duyeon Kim, a deputy director at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, said setting the target of the end of 2013 to minimise the civilian use of HEU, such as in the medical sector, was a “positive step”.
“But so far it’s an ‘encouragement’ to do so and the key is in the details, which are unclear,” Kim said.
Experts highlighted much progress since the Washington summit, such as removing enough HEU to make 19 nuclear weapons from eight countries.
But experts described the measures taken since 2010 as low hanging fruit, and that momentum would be difficult to sustain without binding and transparent agreements among all countries.
“The current nuclear material security regime is a patchwork of unaccountable voluntary arrangements that are inconsistent across borders,” Luongo said.
“Consistent standards, transparency to promote international confidence, and national accountability are additions to the regime that are urgently needed.”