April 14, 2010 11:58
The leaders of the 47 countries taking part in the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on Tuesday chose South Korea as the host of the second summit in 2012. The summit aims to realize a world without nuclear weapons. In November, Seoul hosts the G20 Summit, which is the highest consultative meeting on global economic issues.
The purpose of the Nuclear Security Summit is to provide a venue for world leaders to get together and discuss steps to reduce the number of nuclear warheads, come up with measures to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue states and to look into ways to expand the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
There were fears that the nuclear summit set in motion by U.S. President Barack Obama would end up being a one-off event. But with South Korea taking the initiative to host the second summit, Obama's dilemma has been resolved to a certain extent. When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met President Lee Myung-bak on Monday, he called him Obama's "favorite man." The comment demonstrated that Seoul-Washington relations have returned to normal after rifts during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
The year 2012 is of tremendous significance in terms of security on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has announced a drive to become a "great, prosperous and powerful nation" by 2012, which marks the 100th birthday of nation founder Kim Il-sung. Also in 2012, South Korea assumes full operational control over its military from the U.S. under an agreement between Washington and the previous administration. The second Nuclear Security Summit is likely to take place in the first half of 2012, considering that U.S. and South Korean presidential elections are scheduled between November and December. That means the first half of 2012 will be the most crucial time.
Over the next two years, the government must focus on diplomatic steps to ensure that the second Nuclear Security Summit can take place under totally different conditions from now. If the North Korean nuclear standoff continues to cast a dark shadow over the peninsula and threatens global peace while the Combined Forces Command is dismantled, the summit will lose much of its significance.
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