Nuclear summit focuses on security

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Nuclear summit focuses on security

Two new issues proposed by Korea regarding nuclear security, including safety at nuclear plants, will be among the major concerns at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, according to a high-ranking official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday.

The official said that Seoul’s suggestion of putting nuclear safety on the agenda of the Seoul summit, aimed at avoiding a disaster like the Fukushima crisis, has been well received during the chief negotiators’ meeting held in Helsinki, Finland on Oct. 4-5.

Protecting nuclear facilities against the risk of terrorist infiltration was discussed at the inaugural nuclear security summit, but it will be the first time nuclear safety in regards to safeguarding nuclear facilities against natural disasters is discussed at the summit.

Safe management and protection of radioactive material, another of Seoul’s proposals, has also been accepted as a topic to cover at the summit, the official said.

The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, the second of its kind after being developed by U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington in April 2010, is slated for March 26-27, 2012, with the leaders of at least 47 countries and four international organizations to attend.

Similar to the Washington summit, the Seoul summit will continue to deal with the reduction, eradication and protection of highly enriched uranium and plutonium privately managed for research, industry or medical purposes.

According to the IAEA, arrests for trafficking of nuclear materials were reported more than 1,800 times around the world between 1993 and 2010, with the frequency of such cases increasing to 200 times annually on average since 2007. There are 1,600 tons of highly enriched uranium and 500 tons of plutonium dispersed around the world.

Nuclear weapons will again be excluded from the Seoul summit, the official said.

“Nuclear weapons for military use and nuclear materials are the same in that they are highly enriched uranium, but the reason for excluding nuclear weapons from discussion is that there are other international regimes dealing with it such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Those nuclear weapons are also being managed very strictly, so there is no possibility for them to be captured [by terrorists].”

Seoul has earmarked 35 billion won ($30.7 million) for the summit.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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