Pass the nuclear security bill now

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Pass the nuclear security bill now

South Korea has yet to comply with its national responsibility to formulate domestic regulations in line with amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials that were highlighted during the Nuclear Security Summit it hosted in Seoul two years ago. The convention is in the domestic sphere because it is not a binding international code requiring countries to make specific arrangements to ensure the safety of nuclear materials in domestic use, storage and transport, and the protection of materials and facilities against sabotage.

As the host of the 2012 summit, South Korea urged other states to commit to the convention and make the necessary arrangements by the time of the next conference in 2014. The time is up, and yet we have not complied ourselves. The government and ruling party are at fault for neglecting their international duty. Because they were lacking, the opposition party should have taken the initiative.

President Park Geun-hye, who will attend the March 24-25 Nuclear Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, said it was a pity that the legislature is dragging its feet on passing a law on the physical protection of nuclear materials by linking it with other bills. She worried about the country’s reputation if it fails to produce a law living up to Korea’s pledge before world leaders in time for the next summit. The National Assembly must pay heed to the president’s plea. It is a legitimate demand from the country’s leader, who has the duty to uphold our national status and dignity in the international community. It does not matter what party the president belongs to; the National Assembly should cooperate with the president in areas that concern our national interests.

The Democratic Party offered to approve the nuclear security law, which was bundled in a package of other legislation, if the Saenuri Party accepted its deal on a broadcasting law. But the broadcasting and nuclear security laws have nothing in common and should not be subject to any political bargaining. The broadcasting law is pushed by the unproductive and divided Science, ICT, Future Planning, Broadcasting and Communications Committee, the only standing parliamentary committee that has produced no legislation at all so far.

The National Assembly may be run by politicians, but it is owned by the people. The DP could lose public favor if it uses politics as a bargaining chip. The ruling party is intent on approving the law without the help of the opposition. But it must do more to draw bipartisan support on a law related to international commitments.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 20, Page 30

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