THE HAGUE // Dozens of countries have taken significant steps towards improving their nuclear security, the president of the US said at the close of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague yesterday.
Barack Obama said that the summit states had built on the progress of the last event, in Seoul, in 2012. “It wasn’t about fake commitments but about taking tangible and concrete steps to [prevent] the world’s nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists and that’s what we’ve done,” he said.
“The more of this material we can secure, the safer all of our countries will be.”
The summit’s final communique represents a major step forward as new agreements were made on reducing the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world, including highly enriched uranium and plutonium, which could be used to make nuclear weapons.
“The less dangerous this nuclear material is, the better the nuclear security and the smaller the chance for terrorists to be able to get a hold of it,” said Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister.
“I am pleased that 53 countries and four international organisations have confirmed their commitment to continue reducing stocks of dangerous nuclear material. We’re making progress also on the improvement towards the security of nuclear material and the security of radiological sources that terrorists can use to make bombs.”
The move was further welcomed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. “The UAE has adopted the approach of cooperation, understanding and dialogue between nations as well as solving conflict through peaceful means,” the state news agency, Wam, reported Sheikh Mohammed as saying. “It opposes any military nuclear aspirations and any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East and the whole world, and it supports all that serves the development of peoples and their interests.”
Other new agreements include improving the international exchange of information and international cooperation. “For the first time, there will be a complete and coherent overview of the international nuclear security architecture,” said Mr Rutte. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done in this area, too.”
All countries will implement the guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “The IAEA is now stronger and more countries have ratified treaties and international partnerships,” said Mr Obama.
“So we’ve seen a fundamental shift in our approach to nuclear security. Our goals were to secure all nuclear radiological material, civilian and military, so it no longer poses a risk to any of our citizens and this is essential because of the consequences of even a single attack. We cannot be complacent.”
States have also placed added importance on improving the working relationship between governments and the nuclear industry. “This is an issue that is very important for The Netherlands,” said Mr Rutte. “We need to develop effective security measures.”
Participating countries have agreed to keep the quantities of nuclear material as low as possible and reduce them where possible. “We’ve set new goals for nuclear security,” said Mr Obama. “I made it clear that the US will continue to play its part as well, [including] strengthening cybersecurity. We’re also going to work with our partners around the world to set up more radiation detectors around ports and sites to fight nuclear smuggling.”
Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE permanent representative to the IAEA, said the communique reiterated commitments of states to ensure nuclear security and introduced measures to achieve it. “An example is the voluntary measures the states can take to show that they have established effective security of their nuclear materials,” he said. “This includes peer reviews and transparency about laws and legislations, which the UAE fully supports.”
The UAE has also requested multiple review services from the IAEA and it signed an integrated security support plan with the agency.
The country will host an IAEA workshop on the security of nuclear materials transport this year.
It will also hold an IAEA meeting next year on the integrated regulatory approach. The UAE has requested the agency to provide an International Special Services Advisory Council Advisory Service this year, an Emergency Preparedness Review mission next year, and an Integrated Physical Protection Advisory Services in 2016.