The two-day Nuclear Security Summit that started today in Seoul, South Korea is “a most welcome step forward for preventing the proliferation of weapons-grade nuclear materials to terrorists and non-state actors,” says Alexander Likhotal, President of Green Cross International.
This is the second such multilateral summit, following the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit convened by US President Barack Obama in Washington DC. More than 53 countries are attending the Seoul summit – up from 47 at the first event – to discuss how best to secure and/or eliminate all high-enriched uranium and plutonium, necessary for building a nuclear bomb.
“Although good steps forward have been made by many of the original countries participating in 2012, we still have sufficient bomb-grade nuclear materials in some 32 countries around the globe for 100,000 nuclear weapons,” says Dr. Paul Walker, Director of the Green Cross Environmental Security and Sustainability Programme. “We cannot allow this situation to continue, especially in light of the many public statements and efforts of terrorist groups to obtain weapons of mass destruction.”
Green Cross International underlines several important steps forward in establishing a more secure world, less vulnerable to nuclear proliferation:
– Universalizing the two recent international treaties to prevent nuclear terrorism – the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) which has only 79 States Parties today, and the 1980 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM, and its 2005 amendment) with 145 States Parties. Five nuclear powers, for example, have not ratified ICSANT or the 2005 CPPNM amendment – France, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the US.
– Converting or closing the 120 research reactors still using high-enriched uranium (HEU) for purposes such as production of medical isotopes. The largest number of these is in Russia today and most could be converted to low-enriched uranium (LEU)
– Establishing a baseline, minimum standard for security at all sites with weapons-grade uranium and/or plutonium, with regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Today’s standards are all voluntary and unpredictable.
– Providing adequate funding for nonproliferation initiatives under the G-8 Global Partnership and the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund which has been critical to the many efforts to date. The G-8 GP, with 24 countries, should specify its new pledges this summer when meeting in the U.S.
Green Cross International, founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev, is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through a combination of advocacy and on-the-ground projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and is present in over 30 countries.
Director of Communications