Keeping the world’s nuclear weapons under control and out of the hands of terrorists are top goals for more than fifty leaders who will gather in the South Korea capital. They hope to build on the commitment they made at the first nuclear security summit hosted by President Obama two years ago in Washington.
“Two decades after the end of the cold war, we face cruel irony of history. The risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down. But the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.”
Keeping highly enriched uranium away from terrorists is imperative. Says nuclear expert Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, he spoke recently in New York at a forum hosted by the Korea society.
“The number one threat to the national threat of the United States is nuclear terrorism, a group getting a bomb or the material with which to build a bomb and detonating it in the United States, a nuclear 9-11.”
The heavily guarded demilitarizing zone along the border with nuclear armed North Korea is also on Mr. Obama’s agenda. He is expected to meet there with U.S soldiers.
Pyongyang has denounced the summit as an unpardonable crime and an intolerable grave provocation. North Korea’s nuclear program raises fears in the west, but it will not be one of the summit’s main agenda items. Says Alexandra Toma, founder of the Fissile Materials Working Group:
“There’s no way you can not talk about North Korea. But I think that certainly Korean experts and the Korean government recognize that the nuclear summit is much more than that.”
The safety of nuclear power plants also will be a prominent topic of discussion in Soul, especially after an earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear plant melt down last year in Japan.
At the recent discussion in Washington, Kenneth Luongo, President of the Partnership for Global Security, said the Fukushima disaster showed how much work must be done to improve nuclear power safety.
“And what Fukushima is highlighted for everybody, besides the fact that you can’t have a major nuclear accident in a highly developed country, is that we don’t have an adequate system for dealing with radioactive dangers that cross borders.”
Before the summit itself, President Obama will meet individually with several other leaders, including Russia President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jingtao.