Security and safety nexus

Updated: 2012-03-28 08:04

(China Daily)

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The two-day Seoul Nuclear Security Summit ended on Tuesday, with the leaders of 53 nations signing a document translating the political pledges on combating nuclear terrorism into concrete action plans.

The leaders adopted the Seoul Communiqu at the end of the final session, which emphasized that participating countries have made "substantive progress" on the political commitments made at the first summit, but that sustained efforts are required to "address the issues of nuclear safety and nuclear security in a coherent manner".

More than 100 countries are currently building or preparing to build nuclear facilities of their own. The rapid development of nuclear technology has resulted in the rapid spread of nuclear material worldwide and in a wider variety of fields, adding to the risks of nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there were more than 2,000 cases of illegal trafficking, theft or loss of nuclear and radiological materials between 1993 and 2011; around 60 percent of the material has never been recovered.

The communiqu encouraged nations to minimize the use of weapons-usable uranium by the end of 2013, and the participating countries have pledged to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials and eliminate or minimize highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Experts estimate that there are around 1,600 tons of highly enriched uranium and 500 tons of plutonium around the world - enough for 126,000 nuclear weapons.

The trans-border movement of personnel and materials means that all members of the international community must cooperate to ensure nuclear security.

China honors its commitments to developing its own nuclear security capacity and actively provides assistance to other countries: hosting nuclear security workshops for over 10 Asia-Pacific countries, and contributing to the Nuclear Security Fund of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, nuclear security will not be achieved if some countries disrupt global collaboration by trying to prevent the nuclear development capabilities of others.

The nuclear security summits should not be used as a diplomatic tool for the benefit of certain countries' strategic objectives. It should be exclusively devoted to concerted cooperative efforts to meet the challenges of safe nuclear power generation and the security of nuclear and radiological materials.

To this end, we should bear in mind that poverty and unbalanced development are fertile ground for terrorism to take root and should also be addressed.

(China Daily 03/28/2012 page8)