[Viewpoint] A nuclear summit is good for Korea

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[Viewpoint] A nuclear summit is good for Korea

World leaders from 47 countries, the United Nations and major international organizations gathered in Washington, D.C., from April 12 to 13 for the first-ever meeting to try to get some collective action on combating nuclear terrorism.

The Nuclear Summit was the largest international conference on nuclear security, arms reduction and nonproliferation issues. In the meeting, President Lee Myung-bak accepted President Barack Obama’s proposal to host the second such summit in Korea in 2012.

That meeting has meaning for South Korea in many ways.

First of all, South Korea can exercise leadership on one of the most urgent global security issues - containment of nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

The event will allow us to take initiative in realigning the global order concerning nuclear issues, and our new role well reflects the strengthened status and stature of our country among the international community.

Secondly, it is symbolically very meaningful to hold a nuclear security meeting on the Korean Peninsula, which is home to the extreme poles of nuclear technology applications.

In the North, nuclear technology is developed and used to make weapons that threaten regional security and peace - and sink the North into the depths of an existential crisis.

In the South, however, we make an exemplary employment of nuclear technology to create electricity, save energy and stimulate green growth.

Seen in this vein, the fact that a nuclear summit will be held on the Korean Peninsula not only carries geopolitical significance but also shows the double edge of nuclear technology. That in itself sends a strong message to the entire world.

Thirdly, the 2012 summit can reinforce the world’s commitment to the nonproliferation regime as a way of combatting nuclear threats, and will also serve as a stage to show how a renaissance of nuclear power is the way forward as an environment-friendly and cost-efficient energy source.

As a consequence, other parts of the world will hopefully be encouraged to join the movement in using nuclear energy for consumer use.

The event will also be a perfect opportunity to call global attention to the efficiency and safety of our nuclear reactor technology, especially for countries that are aggressively pushing the use of nuclear power plants.

Fourthly, the hosting of the next nuclear summit will help diversify our diplomatic capabilities and enhance our leadership in the international community.

Through hosting of the G-20 Summit later this year, South Korea can take the leadership in initiating a new order in global economic and financial governance.

In addition, if South Korea can contribute to the establishment of an international cooperation system by coming up with concrete steps on how to contain weapons-grade nuclear materials by hosting the nuclear summit successfully, it will open a new horizon in the field of multilateral diplomacy.

The multilateral platform provides an important diplomatic position for a midsized country like South Korea because we are best positioned to mediate fairly among countries with various complicated interests and come up with common ground that can satisfy all participants involved.

Through such meaningful procedures, we can play a constructive role of setting new guidelines and systems for the world community.

Lastly, it is important for us to stage a multilateral summit conference smoothly with sincere respect to our international guests and sophisticated meeting procedures.

But at the same time we must focus more on getting practical results and value from the meetings.

To achieve such an important goal, we must capitalize on the new diplomatic opportunities in the multilateral platform to strengthen our national stature and role in the global community. We also need to foster well-trained personnel to prepare ourselves for this new role.

The 2012 nuclear security summit will be one which is unprecedented and the largest of the international forums we have hosted.

We hope it will serve as a new challenge and opportunity in the diplomatic arena.

*Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
The writer is deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

By Chun Yung-woo
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