Step toward a nuclear-free world

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Step toward a nuclear-free world

Scattered across the world are 1,600 tons of highly enriched uranium and 500 tons of plutonium that could be used to make more than 126,000 nuclear bombs. The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit was a promising opportunity for world leaders to prevent such a huge amount of nuclear material from haphazardly falling into the wrong hands.

The Seoul event, which was attended by heads of state or executive-level representatives from 53 nations and four international organizations, came to a successful end yesterday, transforming the comprehensive tasks presented at the Washington Nuclear Security Summit into concrete ones.

The Seoul Communique contains a series of specific plans to eliminate or minimize weapon-level nuclear materials, intensify physical protection for diverse nuclear facilities and intercept illegal transactions of the hazardous materials. It can help all the participating countries take a step closer toward the goal of averting nuclear terror by shifting the declaratory obligations expressed in the first summit to more specific, detailed ones.

The summit also achieved meaningful progress in terms of the number of countries that actually reduced or scrapped nuclear material or promised to do so. The participants have agreed to curtail the amount of highly enriched uranium in the world by vowing to make voluntary efforts to reach the goal.

Obama’s vision of a nuclear-free world cannot be embodied by nuclear safety alone: it needs additional efforts by nuclear powers to reduce the number of their nuclear warheads and achieve nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

A fundamental loophole in the Nuclear Security Summit lies with the idea of dealing with the critical issue by putting aside the issue of nuclear arms reduction and nonproliferation.

Another weakness also stems from the fact that the agreements made in the summit are nonbinding. As all the pledges for a reduction or scrapping of nuclear material can be realized by the voluntary implementation of the participants, what matters is action, not words.

Yet Korea was still able to successfully wrap up the largest summit in the international security field.

It will be recorded as one of the government’s greatest achievements, as it helped boost Korea’s international status and diplomatic capabilities following its successful hosting of the Group of 20 summit in the capital in 2010.
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