The global Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) brought together 53 countries this week in The Hague, The Netherlands, to discuss how best to protect nuclear-related facilities and fissile materials, especially bomb-grade highly enriched uranium and plutonium subject to theft, diversion, and misuse.
Initiated by US President Barack Obama in his now-famous Prague speech in 2009, the high-level Hague meeting was the third such global Summit of leaders of countries with nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, and/or nuclear research and storage facilities. The first NSS took place in Washington DC in 2010 and the second Summit in Seoul, South Korea in 2012. The fourth and potentially final NSS is now scheduled for 2016 in the United States.
Green Cross International, which has worked for over two decades now to promote and facilitate the non-proliferation and disarmament of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related fissile and toxic materials, congratulates all Summit participants for their considerable progress over the past four years in locking down and removing vulnerable civilian and military fissile materials.
Dr. Paul Walker, director of the Green Cross Environmental Security and Sustainability Programme, noted three major steps forward: “Since the first Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, the number of countries with sufficient bomb-grade nuclear materials to make a nuclear bomb has decreased from 39 to 25; also, 12 countries have now given up all of their nuclear materials, and another 15 have disposed of portions of their fissile material stockpiles. These historic steps have all reduced the threat of terrorists getting their hands on weapons-grade nuclear materials.”
Green Cross also lauded the Summit for its “Trilateral Initiative,” called “Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation” and initiated by the US, South Korea, and The Netherlands as the three hosts of Summits to date. Thirty-five of the 53 Summit participants joined the initiative to fully implement voluntary standards for securing nuclear and radiological material, as recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Green Cross also applauded the many non-governmental organizations and nuclear industry participants who organized a complementary “Nuclear Knowledge Summit” (NKS) and a “Nuclear Industry Summit” (NIS), both held just prior to the NSS in Amsterdam. Green Cross is a founding member of a global network, the Fissile Material Working Group (FMWG), which organized the NKS with the Asan Institute from South Korea and the Clingendael Institute in The Netherlands.
While 17 joint statements were issued at the Summit this week, eight countries – Azerbaijan, China, Gabon, India, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand – did not join any of the statements. Walker commented that “it’s very disappointing that two major possessors of fissile materials – China and Russia – seemed to have made little progress in securing these dangerous stockpiles. With the world possessing some 2’000 metric tons of dangerous fissile materials, enough to make another 80’000 nuclear weapons, all countries must make nuclear security a top priority.”
GCI was founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev and is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization advocating and working globally to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and conducts on-the-ground projects in more than 30 countries around the world.