[Letters] Toward successful 2012 Seoul Nuclear Summit

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[Letters] Toward successful 2012 Seoul Nuclear Summit

The biggest international meeting in the history of Korea is to be held in Seoul. The 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit is to be held for two days from March 26.

Heads of states from 47 countries as well as the leaders of the four major international organizations, including the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, are expected to attend the meeting. It is a far bigger event in scale than the G20 summit held in 2010.

The theme of the summit meeting is “nuclear security.” Since it may be an unfamiliar field that requires professional knowledge, appreciation and interest in the event is rather low among the citizens.

However, many Koreans are interested in safety related to nuclear energy after the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in Japan. The Fukushima incident was caused by a natural disaster whose devastating power was beyond measure. If terrorists struck a nuclear power plant, they could cause similarly catastrophic damage.

Nuclear security encompasses the overall technical and administrative measures to detect and respond to the terrorist activities against nuclear facilities as well as the use of nuclear explosives with sinister and lethal intention.

The international community has assumed a nuclear terror attack as the worst case scenario and has been making various efforts to prevent such a disaster. Therefore, the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul will be a significant step in global efforts.

In fact, when U.S. President Barack Obama proposed the nuclear security summit in a speech in Prague in 2009 and the first summit was held in Washington in April of the following year, the discussion was focused on the possibility of nuclear terror attack using nuclear explosives and ways to prevent illegal circulation of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.

In order to make the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit successful, the agenda should include issues not handled in Washington, such as the protection against radioactive materials and nuclear energy safety to prevent another disaster like the Fukushima incident in conjunction with nuclear security.

Though the North Korean nuclear issue may attract the interest of the general public, it does not correspond with the focus of the summit. Since there is an existing channel in the six-party talks, Korea should be careful when approaching the North Korean issue.

Even more state heads are expected to attend the Seoul summit than the Washington meeting. While the government and related organizations are making various efforts to make the event a success, many citizens are still not aware that such a large-scale event is scheduled.

There are many positive aspects to the summit. If the G20 Summit has upgraded Korea’s standing on the economic playing field, the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will greatly enhance the status of the country in political and security fields.

Moreover, if international confidence on Korea’s nuclear security and nuclear energy safety is elevated thanks to the meeting, it might boost Korea’s export of nuclear reactors.

The 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit is a crucial opportunity to take a step up in the international community. Therefore, we need to make earnest efforts and lend our support to the event.

Chang Sang-ku, president of the Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Control
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