From Washington nuclear summit to nuclear summit in Seoul

What happened in 2 years.

Question:

Was in your opinion any positive progress made in nuclear nonproliferation from Washington nuclear summit in 2010 or not, and why?

Answers:

Andrew Futter, Lecturer in International Politics, Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Leicester

As regards the 2010 summit, the greatest achievement was probably getting nuclear terrorism accepted as a global ‘problem’ that everyone had a vested interest in addressing – while people were aware of the danger before (and certainly after 9-11) – this conference brought the issue to truly international attention. This in itself was arguably an important achievement, and one which Obama should take credit for.

Progress since this time has been slow; key measures to prevent nuclear terrorism such as a Fissile Material Cut Off Treat (FMCT) appeared to have stalled internationally (Chinese concerns are key to this), while Obama has so far not been able to push ahead with ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the US – he might try to push for this in a second presidential term but it remains contentious domestically. The other big issues are Iran and Israel (neither of which attended the 2010 summit); if Iran does develop a nuclear bomb this will fundamentally undermine the non-proliferation regime (not to mention the concern about its links with Hezbollah); and along with Israeli policy towards its own nuclear weapons, this continues to weaken the non-proliferation treaty and other non-proliferation mechanisms more broadly. In this sense, Iran and Israel are as important to the viability of the future of combating nuclear terrorism as Obama and other western leaders.

The fact that this week’s summit is in South Korea suggests that the DPRK’s nuclear programme will dominate proceedings. Some progress appears to have been made in previous weeks but this could be seriously upset by the proposed rocket launch by Pyongyang next month. The DPRK has a history of acting in this way, and may be seen as yet another stalling of the 6 party talks.

One final point – the more states that acquire nuclear weapons, particularly if these states do not have advanced nuclear security controls (Iran, North Korea…) or keep their weapons dispersed due to fear of attack (Pakistan) the more likely the chance that these weapons might be stolen or acquired by terrorists. In this sense, there are two levels to the nuclear terrorism issue; diplomatic international non-proliferation, and domestic security once these weapons are acquired.

Matthew Bunn, Associate Professor, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

There has been a wide range of progress — countries eliminating all the weapons-usable nuclear material on their soil (most recently Mexico and Ukraine), countries inviting IAEA-led reviews of their security arrangements, countries installing upgrading nuclear security systems or strengthening their nuclear security rules. But there is still a very long way to go — there are still no global standards that specify how secure nuclear weapons or the materials needed to make them should be, no verification or transparency to build confidence that states are putting effective nuclear security measures in place, and, after the nuclear security summits come to an end, no global forum for discussing how to continually improve nuclear security in the face of an evolving threat.

For an account of how countries are doing in fulfilling the commitments they announced at the last summit (which concludes that about 80% of them have been fulfilled), see www.armscontrol.org.

Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation

Since the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, we have made important progress towards President Obama’s goal to “to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world.” However, much remains to be done.

Many nations have taken vital steps toward improving nuclear materials security over the past two years. About 80% of the national commitments made at the 2010 summit have been fulfilled, according to analysis by the Arms Control Association and Partnership for Global Security. Important achievements include: Mexico, Chile, and Ukraine eliminated their stockpiles of weapons-grade uranium; Russia halted plutonium production, and the US and Russia signed a protocol for disposing of 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium.

Despite this progress, nuclear threats persist. Nuclear terrorism is one of the most serious threats we face today. The IAEA has documented 20 cases of theft or loss of fissile material. Proliferation on a larger scale is also troubling. While U.S. and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran has not yet decided to build a bomb, Iran continues to take steps towards a nuclear weapons capability, a development that would have serious implications for proliferation throughout the region.

Over the past two years we have taken some important steps to nuclear security worldwide. The U.S. has been a leader in these efforts, and we must continue to lead, taking practical steps like ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and fully funding vital nonproliferation programs. The 2010 summit was a success in many ways, but we must not grow complacent; we must continue to build on that success in 2012 and beyond.

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One Response

  1. A reconvened NPT Conference to be held in Jerusalem by the end of 2012 is the circuit breaker to the Iran/West imbroglio.

    A reconvened NPT Conference in Jerusalem in 2012 would achieve the following…

    (1) An overarching vision and plan to phase out nuclear weapons by 2025 enunciated. All nations agree and sign off on the initiative. Timeline : 2012 – Conference. Agreements. Nuclear energy fostered whilst proliferation is halted; 2013/2014 IAEA’s annual budget expanded to $10 Billion. Staff numbers increased to 25,000. Including : Management; Inspectors, Dismantlers (Model is Pantex plant USA) etc. IAEA structure upgraded; 2015/2016 – Inspections of all nations facilities; 2017 to 2023– Dismantlement program in percentage wise, return the chips to the dealer fashion; Dec. 2023 – Last nuclear weapon dismantled; 2024 – Signing off ceremonies. 2025 onwards – Ongoing monitoring, oversight, management of nuclear energy industry.

    (2) The core components of the Middle East jigsaw puzzle centred around Jerusalem are : The State of Israel; Gaza; The West Bank/Judea and Samaria; Jordan; Lebanon; Syria; Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Representatives of all these areas could attend the conference and be included in the ongoing deliberations. The current GDP of these areas is $1.6 Trillion. This can easily grow by more than 5% p.a. from 2013 onwards if stability prevails and a divinely mandated command and control structure is heeded. Persia will also benefit greatly. Visualise the following…Israeli and Iranian Taekwondo players meet in the 80kg division at the London Olympics on August 10th this year; In late 2013 Iranian tourists visit Israel in whilst Israelis make their way to Shiraz; It becomes possible to drive on a road from Jerusalem to Tehran in 2019; Israel, Iran, USA and Saudi Arabia play off in Group D of the 2022 Qatar World Cup; All nuclear weapons on Planet Earth have been eliminated by Dec.31st 2024.

    (3) The conference would provide the forum for various past foes to meet. For so many people to sit together in Jerusalem in a spirit of friendship and with an agreed upon collective mission would meet with divine blessings.

    (4) The overarching long term plan would provide the fulcrum, pivot and track for other international trust building initiatives that would need to take place after the conference.

    (5) The simple act of people just sitting with each other will work wonders. There is nothing more powerful for trust building than this method.

    (6) Isaiah’s swords into ploughshares prophecy becomes a reality.

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