Last week I was in the Republic of Korea to meet with counterparts who are planning the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul next March. Preparations are going well, and the South Koreans are gearing up for the formidable task of hosting 50 world leaders. While I was there, I spoke at a UN conference, highlighting progress on nuclear security since the historic first Summit in Washington last April.
Even though I’d been aware of many of these events as they happened, it was really impressive to see the progress piled up: over 400 kg of highly enriched uranium removed from over 10 countries – enough for 16 nuclear bombs. A dozen new countries joining the key international treaties. Over a dozen new nuclear security training and research “centers of excellence” opening their doors. Key tools for international cooperation on nuclear security, such as UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction extended into the next decade. Increased resources for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s support to its member states to improve security on nuclear materials. Tens of tons of Highly Enriched Uranium permanently destroyed by Russia and the US – raw material for thousands of nuclear weapons. Nuclear industry players adopting “Principles of Conduct” including commitments to secure materials at their facilities, and working together through the World Institute of Nuclear Security to identify and promote best practices in nuclear security. INTERPOL setting up a new radiological-nuclear center to bring law enforcement tools to bear more effectively on nuclear smuggling.
These steps are bringing tangible life to President Obama’s words in Prague in April 2009: “we must ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. This is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security….So today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials. We must also build on our efforts to break up black markets, detect and intercept materials in transit, and use financial tools to disrupt this dangerous trade.… And we should start by having a Global Summit on Nuclear Security that the United States will host within the next year.”
As we work with the South Koreans to prepare the second Summit, we will see much more progress on this global agenda to prevent nuclear terrorism and halt nuclear smuggling.