2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit
March 30, 2012
The nuclear safety and security puzzle seems a serious brainteaser in the contemporary security discourse. The probability of inadvertent and misuse of nuclear technology was clearly articulated by the leading nations head of governments/states in the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. Simultaneously, they expressed their resilience to combat the menace of nuclear/radiological terrorism individually as well as collectively.
The leaders of fifty-three nations gathered in Seoul on March 26-27, 2012, to renew the political commitments generated from the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit to work toward strengthening nuclear security, reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism, and preventing terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials.
The representatives created a positive atmosphere for the institutionalization of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 by further improving their national nuclear security apparatuses to prevent the nuclear/radiological material trafficking and to educate the common man to assist the law enforcement agencies to make foolproof security and safety arrangements for their national nuclear facilities. The Seoul Communiqué stated: “At the national level, we encourage all stakeholders, including the government, regulatory bodies, industry, academia, nongovernmental organizations and the media, to fully commit to enhancing security culture and to maintain robust communication and coordination of activities.”
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani highlighted, in his speech at the Summit, Islamabad’s efforts to enhance the safety and security of Pakistani facilities. He also called attention to Pakistani endeavors to cooperate with other states to improve their nuclear safety and security system. Pakistan, for example, established Nuclear Security Training Centers to act as a regional and international hub to train the people. Pakistan is alos deploying Special Nuclear Material Portals on key exit and entry points to counter the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials.
The Seoul Communiqué stated that: “Nuclear terrorism continues to be one of the most challenging threats to international security. Defeating this threat requires strong national measures and international cooperation given its potential global political, economic, social, and psychological consequences.”
Although, the nuclear non-proliferationists/abolitionists have been highlighting the nuclear/radiological terrorism’s threat and also nuclear facilities’ safety challenges, yet lacked a serious supporting constituency. They failed to develop a rational-cum-convincing argument in favor of complete elimination of nuclear weapons arsenals and implementation of ban against the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, i.e. power generation, cancer treatment and improving the agriculture productivity. The Communiqué categorically defended the rights of Sates to use nuclear technology. The leaders affirmed in the Communiqué: “We reaffirm that measures to strengthen nuclear security will not hamper the rights of States to develop and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”
The fear of nuclear risks and nuclear/radiological terrorism has been receiving a serious response from the international community since the President Obama’s landmark speech at Prague on April 5, 2009. The threat of nuclear/radiological terrorism was clearly addressed in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1887. These developments resulted in the commencement of the first Nuclear Security Summit on April 12-13, 2010, at Washington.
The final communiqué of the first Nuclear Security Summit stated that “nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security, and strong nuclear security measures are the most effective means to prevent terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials.” Since then, the international community has been paying a serious attention the solution of the problem without negating the significance of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit also manifested that the nations are not ready to demonize nuclear technology. The nuclear weapon states have continuously been improving the quality of their nuclear arsenals. The nuclear deterrence continues a constant and incontrovertible component of the Great Powers grand military strategies. Simultaneously, the nuclear trade for the peaceful application of nuclear technology has been increasing, even at the cost of the twentieth century nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The alarming puzzle for the Governments and their law enforcement agencies across the globe is the threat of nuclear/radiological terrorist attack to which nuclear deterrence theory has no answer. The nuclear rational deterrence theory’s inability to counter nuclear/radiological terrorist attacks was accepted by the sole super power in its declassified security documents. For instance, Annual Treat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported on February 2, 2010 that: “Traditionally WMD’s use by most nation states has been constrained by deterrence and diplomacy, but these constraints may be of less utility in preventing the use of mass-effect weapons by terrorist groups.” Similar concerns were expressed in numerous threat assessment reports prepared in both developed and less developed countries.
To conclude, Seoul Summit produced concrete and visible plans to implement an international consensus to prevent the nations from nuclear/radiological terrorist attacks. In this context, the cooperation among the nations is imperative and thereby the international community should adopt a collective and practical strategy to combat the menace of terrorism.