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Security experts sound cautionary note for summit

By Chen Weihua (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-04-13 14:27
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WASHINGTON - Shortly before 47 world leaders convene for the Nuclear Security Summit, some 220 experts have not only warned that the nuclear threat to the world is real, they are also trying to recommend ways to effectively secure nuclear materials in the world.

At a meeting on Monday called "Next Genertion Nuclear Security: Meeting the Global Challenge," Robert Gallucci, a non-proliferation expert and former US ambassador, dismissed the saying that nuclear threat is just a fantasy and described the nuclear threat as "not only possible and plausible but probable over time."

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"The global risk from nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorists loom large," said Gallucci, now president of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

"There is a perception that only cities of the United States or Western countries are the likely targets. This is a huge mistake. I would say that any countries that have suffered significant terrorist attacks, foreign or domestic, need to take this threat seriously," Gallucci said at the meeting held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

He said more people and governments would incline to act and cooperate with others to counter nuclear terrorism if they were persuaded the threat was real.

Other experts have also cautioned about the complacency on the nuclear security issue.

Matthew Bunn, associate professor of Public Policy and Co-Principal Investigator for Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard University, warned that terrorists have global reach. "That makes securing nuclear materials essential. I think that all countries, including countries that consider themselves did well in nuclear security, should learn from an international perspective about the issue and need to do better."

Rajiv Nayan, a research officer of the India-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said the meeting by experts would help increase consensus and disseminate ideas about nuclear security. He said there is no room for complacency and maximum measures should be taken.

"I believe something positive should come out after the Nuclear Security Summit. And further work can be done later," said Nayan.

Gareth Evans, co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, also cautioned that terrorist groups have demonstrated their desire to develop nuclear devices and they are also acquiring nuclear scientists.

The commission Evans co-chaired has devised a comprehensive short- and long-term agenda to deal with the nuclear threat, from disarmament and non-proliferation to nuclear terrorism and challenge of civil clear energy.

Li Hong, secretary general of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, has described the regional threat in East Asia, but he recommended various diplomatic means to solve the issues.

"It not just negotiations, but also mechanism in the United Nations and international legal framework," he said.