Security for nuclear summit is shaping up

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Security for nuclear summit is shaping up

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Police SWAT team members participate in an antiterrorism exercise at COEX, the venue for the Nuclear Security Summit in southern Seoul, yesterday. A situation room, which will function as a control tower for all security measures during the two-day summit, also began operating yesterday. In the room, around 2,000 cameras installed around COEX are being monitored in real time. The Nuclear Security Summit will be held in Seoul from March 26 to 27. By Choi Seung-shik

A vehicle charges full throttle toward a gate to the COEX exhibition center in southern Seoul before a SWAT team stops it. The police haul the driver out, and sniffer dogs go into action, finding a suspicious suitcase in the vehicle. An agent clad in protective gear X-rays the suitcase and sees a bomb inside.

The suitcase is wrapped in explosion-proof material, and the SWAT team retreats. A robot is sent toward the suitcase, shooting high-pressure water at it. The suitcase explodes with a roaring sound.

That was a scene yesterday at COEX, the venue of the upcoming Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, as Seoul practiced its security for the March 26-27 event, which will be host to more foreign dignitaries than any other meeting held in Korea, including the Group of 20 summit of November 2010.

For the summit, security authorities plan to set up three to four layers of security lines around COEX, and entry of nonparticipants will be limited. Police snipers will be mobilized on roofs in the vicinity. On the Han River, which runs through the capital, high-speed patrol vessels will be put into service, police said. The military’s surface-to-air missiles will be set up in several places. During the two-day summit, the subway will not stop at Samseong Station on line No. 2, which is linked to COEX.

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The situation room, the control tower for all security operations, began operating yesterday. It will have access to video from around 2,000 CCTV cameras around COEX. Cameras in police helicopters and police vehicles will also be monitored.

The police and military will patrol all subway stations in Seoul in case terrorists decide to target areas other than COEX. Approximately 60,000 military and police officers will be mobilized during the summit. From March 23, most police in Seoul will be mobilized for security.

“Since it’s the largest conference ever in Korea, we have many things to take care of,” said a government official. “It feels like I have become a conductor of an orchestra.”

The leaders of 54 countries, including Korea, and four international organizations will come to the summit. Vehicles will have to transport those leaders nonstop between their hotels and COEX, and the situation room has GPS that can locate any of the vehicles in seconds.

The government is asking intelligence agencies of other countries for information on 47 terrorist groups across the world.


By Lee Chul-jae, Lee Seung-ho [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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