Nuclear summit ends with vow to end nuke terrorism risks

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pretoria - The Nuclear Security Summit, aimed at enhancing global efforts in fighting nuclear terrorism, ended on Tuesday with leaders endorsing the Seoul Communiqué.

The Seoul Communiqué largely restated the goals declared two years ago at the inaugural Washington summit, including securing and removing weapons-usable materials such as highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium and preventing illicit nuclear trafficking.

Participants in the summit, which included President Jacob Zuma, agreed that progress had been made in the global community's efforts to strengthen national nuclear security and promote international nuclear cooperation since the Washington summit.

In a statement issued at the end of the summit, President Zuma said the summit provided a forum to raise awareness and to support the work of existing bodies on nuclear security, especially the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"The IAEA plays an important role in our common efforts to strengthen nuclear security, thereby contributing to preventing nuclear terrorism. In our desire to create a forum to raise awareness on nuclear security, we cannot ignore the reality that only the verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons will ultimately prevent the use of such weapons.

"Our international legally binding obligations on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation allow for the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes only, irrespective of the enrichment level," said Zuma.

In the communiqué, the summit affirmed the significance of the Seoul summit, pledging to gather political will and enhancing coordination and cooperation.

They also agreed to take effective and pragmatic steps, which include helping developing countries to improve their nuclear security capacity and technical level, protecting nuclear facilities, preventing loss and proliferation of nuclear materials, ensuring peaceful use of nuclear energy and maintaining world peace and security.

Calling nuclear terrorism "one of the most challenging threats to international security", the leaders pledged to "work toward strengthening nuclear security, reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism, and preventing terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorised actors from acquiring nuclear materials".

Building upon the Washington Communiqué, the six-page Seoul communiqué also encouraged states to announce voluntary actions aimed at minimising the civilian use of HEU by 2013 and promote the use of low-enriched uranium instead.

Moreover, they emphasized the importance of nuclear safety, an issue which has become topical after the March 2011 Fukushima accident, and stressed the need to enhance protective measures at nuclear facilities.

They agreed that nuclear security and safety measures should be implemented in a coherent manner that can maximize the synergy between them.

The summit was attended by heads of state from about 50 countries, including US President Barack Obama. Others included Republic of China's Hu Jintao, Spain's Maqariano Rajoy, and Korea's Myung-bak Lee, who also held bilateral talks, focusing on strengthening bilateral political and economic cooperation with Zuma on the side-lines of the summit.