Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nuclear Summit : discuss about substantial amount of nukes

A large amount of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium that is enough to produce “thousands of nuclear weapons” will be eliminated following the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, officials said Monday.

A target amount of weapons-usable uranium to be removed and how to reach the goal will be stipulated in the Nuclear Security Summit’s Seoul Communique, they said. President Lee Myung-bak will announce the communique at the end of the summit today.

“The Seoul summit will contribute to reducing a great amount of nuclear material that is enough to make thousands of nuclear weapons,” a ranking South Korean diplomat said. “The outcome document will tell everything from the volume to a target for each state.” The diplomat refused to elaborate on the matter since he was not authorized to do so.

The draft of the outcome document was made to meet the goal of a “four-year lockdown” plan, an idea suggested by U.S. President Barack Obama at the first nuclear security summit in Washington in 2010 in a bid to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials by 2014.

The draft was virtually finalized at the Sherpa’s last meeting in Seoul last week and is now waiting for endorsement of leaders attending the Seoul summit.

President Lee hosted a working dinner, during which Lee and other leaders reviewed the progress of the lockdown plan.

“All leaders present at the dinner concluded that the past two years were successful in reducing nuclear materials and promised to work harder to give the Seoul summit a successful ending,” summit spokesman Han Chung-hee told reporters.

Officials said the Seoul Communique will contain political pledges by participating leaders to make the world free of nuclear terrorism, and 11 action plans.

The action plans will include putting into force the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, strengthening education and training through the establishment of Centers of Excellence, and the conversion of nuclear reactors from running on HEU to low-enriched uranium.

The Seoul meeting has paid particular attention to the vulnerability of radioactive materials stored at civilian facilities.

A sense of urgency to reinforce security of civilian facilities with fissile materials has been felt in recent years as the number of attempts to steal weapons-use nuclear material has increased.

“There is recognition by many countries, agencies and individuals that they are insufficiently prepared to face such a threat,” said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

Experts estimate the amount of HEU and plutonium stored as of mid 2011 at civilian facilities worldwide is enough for more than 5,000 and 30,000 nuclear weapons, respectively.

In 2009 alone, there were 215 attempts to steal material reserved for power generation, medical or other commercial purposes, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit has driven many countries, including nuclear-armed states such the United States and Russia, to voluntarily dispose of tons of HEU and plutonium.

The U.S. and Russia eliminated seven tons and 48 tons of HEU following the Washington summit. Ten other countries, including Argentina, Australia and the Czech Republic, have joined the reduction plan, each getting rid of roughly 400 kilograms of HEU over the last two years.

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