Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit 100 days away

“A world free of nuclear weapons is the hope of all humanity, in which lies a core objective and fundamental spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).” - Kim Sung-Hwan, Foreign Minister and Chief of the Preparatory Secretariat for the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit (NSS)

In light of its ever-growing presence and leadership in the global community, Korea was designated to host the Second Nuclear Security Summit as declared at the end of the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010.

President Lee Myung-bak announces Korea’s designation as host of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit at a press conference of the Washington Summit, April 2010 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

The high-level conference, convened to delve into global nuclear security, is set to take place in Seoul from March 26 to 27, 2012. As we move ever closer to the upcoming summit, the eyes of the international society have been once again turning towards the host city, following the G20 Seoul Summit in November 2010.

The first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. was organized as a follow-up on a proposal made by U.S. President Barak Obama in Prague in April 2009. During his Prague speech on nuclear arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation, President Obama singled out nuclear terrorism as one of the most challenging threats to international security and stressed the need for joint efforts to secure nuclear materials and strengthen cooperation in nuclear security.

Heads of state from 47 nations and representatives from the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and European Union attended the Washington Summit in 2010 to discuss ways to enhance international cooperation and develop steps toward safeguarding nuclear materials and detecting and disrupting attempts at nuclear terrorism.

President Lee Myung-bak poses with the participating leaders at the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

In addition to sharing the goals of nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful use of nuclear energy, the participating leaders adopted the Communiqué of the Washington Nuclear Security Summit as the outcome, further elaborating work plans as guidance for future action.

Committed to the Washington spirit, the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit is expected to mark the single largest global summit to date -- excluding the General Assembly of the United Nations. The meeting will bring together over 50 national leaders in the Korean capital alongside the heads of the UN, IAEA, EU and newly joined INTERPOL.

Participants are expected to contribute to the deliberations and develop measures for consolidated cooperation on measures to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, protection of nuclear materials and related facilities, and prevention of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials.

The 2012 Seoul NSS will provide a forum for a dialogue not only devoted to the issue of nuclear security, but also of its interface with nuclear safety, which emerged as the focus of renewed attention following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

While calling for the strengthened cooperation of all states in the attainment of the objective identified in Washington, the high level forum in Korea is set to delineate more concrete action plans to put into practice by adopting the Seoul Communiqué.

President Lee Myung-bak (right) attends the first session of the summit in Washington (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

This March, the Korean Government has officially launched the Preparatory Secretariat for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, headed by Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan, to ensure the successful organization and thorough advance preparations -- in consultation with the United States, the host of the first summit, as well as a group of experts.

The Eminent Persons Group, which has been established to support the success of the second summit and offer valuable insights and advice, converged in Seoul on November 29 at the invitation of President Lee Myung-bak, the chair of the upcoming summit.

The members of the Eminent Persons Group -- including former Indian President Abdul Kalam, Honorary Senior Minister of Singapore Goh Chok-tong, and former Secretary-General of the IAEA Hans Blix, among other eminent figures in the field – exchanged ideas and thoughts about preparations for the success of the event.

The participating figures, which equally involve renowned dignitaries at home such as honorary professor at Korea University and former Foreign Minister Han Seung-ju, drew the Joint Statement embodying suggestions for the successful hosting of the Seoul Summit.

President Lee Myung-bak meets with former Indian President Abdul Kalam (left) and other members of the Eminent Persons Group at Cheong Wa Dae on November 29 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

In the Joint Statement, the group expressed its expectations for the Seoul summit to “enhance public confidence in nuclear energy, which has been undermined since the Fukushima nuclear accident.” Noting the seriousness of the risks and consequences posed by radiological terrorism, the group also urges the summit participants to draw up cooperative measures to reduce this threat along with that of nuclear terrorism.

During the meeting, President Lee stressed that blocking the access of terrorists to nuclear materials is as important as assuring international nuclear nonproliferation and asked for the group’s full-pledged support and keen insights in making the summit an important milestone in advancing nuclear security.

* About nuclear security
Nuclear security refers to a series of preemptive measures set in place to detect and prevent threats, sabotage, and illegal acts related to nuclear materials, radioactive substances, or relevant facilities. With a heightened international awakening since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the possibility of terrorists misusing nuclear materials, the role of nuclear security has been further highlighted in combating nuclear terrorism.

For more information on the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, please visit the official website at: (Korean and English).


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