Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nuclear Security Summit Releases Joint Communique

The 47-nation two-day Nuclear Security Summit concluded in Washington on 13 April. The leaders of the Summit to aim to lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide within four years, as advocated by host US President Barack Obama.

The Summit comes after Obama announced April 6 a new U.S. nuclear strategy that aims to limit the circumstances in which the country would use nuclear weapons, and after the US President and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a landmark strategic nuclear disarmament treaty on 8 April in Prague.

The participants, which include Japan and all five declared nuclear states -- the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and the United States -- also called for the implementation of 'special precautions' against highly enriched uranium and plutonium that can be diverted to weapons.

Joint Communique
At the end of the Washington Summit the leaders of the participating countries issued a 12-point joint communique. The communique reaffirmed their ''fundamental responsibility'' in ensuring security for all nuclear materials, including those used in weapons and for nuclear facilities. It calls on the nations to fully implement all existing nuclear security commitments' and work toward acceding to those not yet joined, consistent with national laws, policies and procedures.

The countries recognize the need for concerted international efforts to promote capacity building, technological development and effectively prevent and respond to incidents of illicit nuclear trafficking. They agreed to promote the implementation of strong nuclear security practices that will not infringe upon the rights of states to develop and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and technology and that the related industry, including private firms, should also play a role in keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.

The nonbiding work plan, which was also issued after the Summit, urges the nations to use low-enriched uranium instead of high-enriched fuel ''where it is technically and economically feasible,'' and consolidate national sites where nuclear materials are held so they can secure thorough control of the materials.

The plan also calls on the participants to build regulatory capacity and ensure sufficiently trained and fully vetted professional nuclear security staff and adequate resources. Among the other participants are India and Pakistan, which possess nuclear weapons but have refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), as well as Israel, the only country in the Middle East suspected of having a nuclear arsenal. Neither North Korea, which quit the NPT in 2003, nor Iran, suspected of developing nuclear weapons, was invited.

The Washington Summit was also aimed at boosting the momentum toward nuclear nonproliferation ahead of a NPT review conference scheduled to be held in May in New York, which is held once every five years.

One of the Summit's surprises is that it won't be a stand-alone event. South Korea has agreed to host the next Summit in 2012.

India's Stand and Offer
With Pakistan obviously on his mind, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has warned of the dangers posed by nuclear explosives falling into the hands of non-state actors posing danger to India and other countries. Addressing the Nuclear Security Summit, he pitched for zero tolerance against individuals and groups which engage in illegal trafficking of atomic explosives and announced India's decision to set up a 'Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership' for conducting research and development of design systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable.

Nuclear security is one of the foremost challenges we face today, Singh told the Summit of 47 countries which discussed ways to ensure that nuclear material and technology do not fall into the hands of terrorists.

Commenting US President Barack Obama for his initiative in convening the Summit, he said India would like the Summit to lead to concrete outcomes which help make our world a safer place. The danger of nuclear explosives or fissile material and technical know-how falling in to the hands of non-state actors continues to haunt our world, Singh said, adding India is deeply concerned about the danger it faces, as do other states, from this threat.

He regretted that the global non-proliferation regime has failed to prevent nuclear proliferation as clandestine proliferation networks have flourished and led to insecurity for all, including and especially for India.

Singh invited participation in the venture by other countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to make the Centre's work a success.

The Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership will consist of four schools dealing with Advanced Nuclear Energy System Studies, Nuclear Security, Radiation Safety and application of Radioisotopes and Radiation Technology in areas of healthcare, agriculture and food. As soon as the Indian prime minister announced the setting up of the centre, President Obama intervened to welcome it and said: "this will be one more tool to establish best practices" in the quest for nuclear safety.

The Centre is visualized to be a state-of-the-art facility based on international participation from IAEA and other interested foreign partners. It will conduct research and development of design systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable, the prime minister told leaders from 47 countries.

India is continually upgrading technology to develop nuclear systems that are intrinsically safe, secure and proliferation resistant. It recently developed an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor based on Low Enriched Uranium and thorium with new safety and proliferation-resistant features.

As a founder member of the IAEA, India has consistently supported the central role of the UN nuclear watchdog in facilitating national efforts to strengthen nuclear security and in fostering effective international cooperation. India has so far conducted nine Regional Training Courses on Nuclear Security in cooperation with the IAEA.

At the end, the 12-point joint communique states that South Korea will host the next Summit meeting on nuclear terrorism in 2012.

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