Seoul Nuclear Security Summit 2012
To secure the world from the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons technology has remained the top priority agenda for the global nuclear powers in the 21st century. For this purpose almost fifty eight nations have gathered in Seoul, South Korea which includes many heads of the states such as President Lee Myung-bak, host of the summit, U.S. President Barrack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, Heads of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Union and Interpol. The South Korean government had established an inter ministerial preparatory committee headed by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and preparatory office led by Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan to organize and oversee the planning, management and protocol of the Seoul Summit.
The Seoul Nuclear Security Declaration which is going to be held on 26-27 March, is the thread to the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington DC initiated by American President Barack Obama as a step to establish a global platform to counter nuclear terrorism threat and to eliminate the nuclear terrorism risk through transfer or theft of nuclear material from the nuclear sites. The next or third round of nuclear security summit is expected to be held in Netherlands in 2014. The Seoul summit is the largest-scale and highest-level meeting that South Korea has ever hosted. The top agendas at the Seoul summit would most likely be Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs and the issue of nuclear material safety evolved from the Japanese nuclear crisis at Fukushima as a result of a drastic earthquake in 2011.
The Washington Nuclear Security Summit succeeded in establishing a consensus that nuclear terrorism is a global threat to all nations and evoked more than fifty commitments or pledges which were non binding, vague and had escape clauses. Obama administration’s four-year objective to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the globe is unlikely to be accomplished by 2013. Almost 29 Countries including Congo and Nigeria did not submit their reports on the implementation of UN Security Resolution 1540. Tracking the implementation of this resolution. Obama’s objective and other previous commitments would be an important effort at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
The participants of the Seoul summit have identified key areas such as building up of nuclear safety and security culture (Russia), adherence to the nuclear treatise and conventions( Indonesia), minimizing the use of HEU and plutonium and developing HEU management guidelines (France), strengthening the existing security measures (Pakistan) enhancing nuclear material transport security (Japan) , preventing illicit trafficking and smuggling of nuclear material (Jordan), increasing global co-operation in nuclear forensics (Netherlands), protecting nuclear sensitive information sharing (United Kingdom), and countering the radiological terrorism (Germany) which would be in consideration at Seoul. It will also include putting into force the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), conversion of nuclear reactors from running on HEU to low enriched uranium and strengthening the education and training through the establishment of Centers of Excellence in the participant states.
It is interesting to note that that China, India, Japan, and South Korea have created or are in the process of establishing centers of nuclear security whereas France and Italy have incorporated nuclear security education into their academic curricula. Another important fact is the inclusion of Belarus in Seoul Summit of 2012. Belarus was not invited to the Washington summit, after it refused to give up its stocks of highly enriched uranium. After an agreement by Minsk to give up the remainder by 2012, and removal of a portion of those stocks to secure storage in Russia, the South Korean government has invited Belarus to the Seoul summit.
As far as Pakistan’s stance is considered regarding Seoul Summit, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s ambassador to United States Sherry Rehman and other officials have reached South Korea to attend this summit. Islamabad has been seeking a civilian nuclear accord similar to the 2008 Indo-US nuclear deal that provided New Delhi with an NSG waiver and access to nuclear fuel and technology despite being a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Pakistan also demands to become a member of the elite NSG. The world nuclear suppliers communities have so far refused due to issue of leaking sensitive technology to other states by alleged AQ Khan network. Prime Minister Gilani in the summit would highlight the national nuclear security culture of Pakistan which explicitly describes its nuclear assets and installations to be safe and secure from the terrorist’s threat.
In short, the Seoul nuclear security summit provides a new and unique opportunity to build stronger 21st-century nuclear material security architecture at global level. It provides a plat forum where representatives from different regions, backgrounds, and issues join hands together to eliminate the world from the threat of nuclear terrorism and radiological nuclear weapons, not once but in a series or rounds of meetings held after every two years. Although the participants have to face several challenges in order to achieve their work plan and objectives yet prospects are not bleak. The lessons learned from the communiqué and work plan of 2010 should be considered and Seoul Summit should have a better and practical outcome to ensure peace and stability through world free of threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism in the coming years ahead.
Researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI),