WASHINGTON - As world leaders gathered for the Nuclear Security Summit, experts warned that the threat from nuclear terrorism remains real and recommended ways to effectively secure nuclear material.
Robert Gallucci, a non-proliferation expert and former US ambassador, described the threat as "not only possible and plausible but probable over time," during a conference titled "Next Generation Nuclear Security: Meeting the Global Challenge" on Monday.
"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 country that has 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 in Washington.
Other experts too cautioned about complacency on the nuclear security issue.
Matthew Bunn, associate professor of Public Policy and Co-Principal Investigator for the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard University, warned that terrorists have global reach. "That makes securing nuclear material essential. I think that all countries, including countries that consider their nuclear material as secure, should have a global perspective on the issue and need to do better."
Rajiv Nayan, a research officer at 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 was no room for complacency and maximum measures should be taken.
"I believe something positive should come out from the Nuclear Security Summit. And further work can be done later," he said.
Gareth Evans, co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, also said that terrorist groups have demonstrated their desire to develop nuclear devices and that they were recruiting nuclear scientists.
The commission has devised a comprehensive short- and long-term agenda to deal with the nuclear threat, from disarmament and non-proliferation to nuclear terrorism.
Li Hong, secretary-general of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, discussed the regional threat in East Asia, but recommended diplomatic means to solve nuclear issues.
"It not just negotiations, but also a mechanism within the United Nations and the international legal framework," he said.
(China Daily 04/14/2010 page12)