Nuclear Security Summit Ends Without Clear Targets

      March 28, 2012 09:38

      The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit ended Tuesday with the leaders of 53 countries unanimously adopting a communiqué that encourages nations to take all possible steps and cooperate to secure vulnerable weapons-grade fissile material by 2014.

      Participants to the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit pose for a group photo at COEX in the Korean capital on Tuesday.

      President Lee Myung-bak, who chaired the summit, told reporters its main achievement was steps to reduce highly enriched uranium and plutonium, which are key to preventing nuclear terrorism.

      Lee stressed that the countries agreed to submit their own plans to reduce highly enriched uranium by the end of next year and praised the agreement as "very meaningful" in that the countries voluntarily agreed to reduce their stockpiles. But the communiqué contained no specific reduction targets.

      Critics said that in reality no progress has been made in terms of reducing nuclear materials and that the communiqué is no significant improvement over commitments made during the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in 2010, where the U.S., Russia and other participating countries agreed to reduce nuclear materials equivalent to 20,000 nuclear weapons and actually lowered materials equivalent to 3,000.

      The Seoul communiqué failed to present any target, however modest. Shin Chang-hoon of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies said, "The Nuclear Security Summit has no legally binding force to get other countries to reduce nuclear materials. It must rely on the voluntary pledges of participating countries to abide by the communiqué."

      Another weakness of the communiqué is that it states no mechanism to verify the commitments made by each country.

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