The leaders gathered at the Hague Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on 24 and 25 March 2014 agreed on an outcome document to continue the work to make the world a safer place by Reducing the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world. President Obama, said; what’s been valuable about this summit is that it has not just been talk, it’s been action. And that is because of the leadership that has been shown by heads of state and government — and heads of government that have participated in this effort, as well as the extraordinary work of foreign ministers and sherpas and others who have helped to move this process forward.
The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process, which began in Washington, D.C., in 2010, has brought high-level attention to the issue of nuclear security and solidified the idea that the global community must work together to address the threat of nuclear terrorism. A second summit was held in Seoul in March 2012. The 2012 Seoul summit expanded the scope of the NSS process to include radioactive source security and the interface of nuclear safety and security at facilities.
In the 13 multinational joint statements issued in Seoul, countries committed to work together on a range of nuclear security topics or projects, including radioactive security, national legislation implementation, transport security, information security, HEU minimization, and nuclear training centers. Summaries of these joint statements are contained in this report’s appendix, and country profiles note which states are participating in the gift baskets
The Seoul communiqué also called for states to announce plans to minimize their use of highly-enriched uranium by 2013 and for the entry into force of the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials by 2014. In the four years since the Washington Nuclear Security Summit (March 2010), NSS countries have taken steps to accomplish this goal, as outlined in their National Progress Reports.
And at this particular Hague summit, “we’ve seen such steps as Belgium and Italy completing the removal of their excess supplies of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium so that those supplied s can be eliminated, said, President Obama; In a major commitment, Japan announced that it will work with the United States to eliminate hundreds of kilograms of weapons-usable nuclear material from one of their experimental reactors, which would be enough for a dozen nuclear weapons.
The announcement is the biggest single victory in President Obama´s legacy to make the world a safer place and to secure the world´s most dangerous materials. Dozens of other nations have agreed to take specific steps towards improving nuclear security in their own countries and to support global efforts.
The U.S.-Japan nuclear cooperation agreement that came into force in 1988 — which allows Japan to recover and store plutonium derived from fuel the United States supplied for Japan’s power plants — is set to expire in 2018. The agreement had widely been expected to be renewed. But then in January the U.S. government requested the return of some plutonium and highly enriched uranium it lent to Japan for research purposes under another, older, agreement. (These are the materials Japan agreed to return last month.) On the face of it, Washington’s request appears to be merely one part of a broader effort to ensure the security of nuclear materials.
Although Japan does not have nuclear weapons, it has a nuclear weapons policy, known as “technological deterrence,” On the one hand, since the 1970s Japan has pursued a pacifist foreign policy best symbolized by its Three Non-Nuclear Principles: (i)“Japan shall neither possess (ii) nor manufacture nuclear weapons, (iii) nor shall it permit their introduction into Japanese territory.” On the other hand, starting in the 1950s it has implemented a nuclear energy policy centered on a closed nuclear fuel cycle, which yields nuclear materials that can be used to run so-called fast-breeding reactors. Japan has one such facility, which it uses for research, but it has been plagued by problems and is not commercially viable. Although the fuel cycle yields plutonium through the reprocessing of spent fuel, Japan has managed to escape the usual restrictions on the possession of such materials by stressing its commitment to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and so, implicitly, its special status as the only country in the world to have suffered atomic bombings.
The NSS2014 provide a comprehensive overview of the progress states have made to improve nuclear security over the course of the NSS process, drawing specific attention to actions taken since the Seoul summit26 of the 28 NSS countries that had at least 1 kg of HEU at the time of the Washington Summit indicated to have taken action to reduce the amount of dangerous nuclear material. Since the Seoul Summit, at least 15 metric tons of HEU have been down-blended to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU), which will be used as fuel for nuclear power plants. This is equivalent to approximately 500 nuclear weapons.
Since 2009, 12 countries worldwide (Austria, Chile, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Libya, Mexico, Romania, Serbia, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam) have removed all HEU from their territory. 15 NSS countries reported that they had repatriated HEU or plutonium or are in the process of doing so. Some NSS countries also assist other countries to repatriate HEU or plutonium. During the Summit in The Hague, 13 countries have subscribed to the HEU-Free Joint Statement. They underline the importance of HEU minimization and call upon all countries in a position to do so to eliminate all HEU from their territories in advance of the NSS2016.
17 NSS countries have converted or are in the process of converting at least 32 of their own research reactors or medical isotope production facilities. NSS countries also assist other countries to convert their reactors. Nine NSS countries reported that they were researching and developing techniques that use LEU instead of HEU.
The United Kingdom (UK) is a leader in the effort to strengthen global nuclear security. It has contributed to multilateral efforts to convert reactors and minimize the use of HEU. Implementation efforts have been primarily focused on Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) removals, though Sweden eliminated plutonium stocks ahead of the Seoul summit and President Obama noted the need to stop accumulating separated plutonium in a speech at Hankuk University while he was in the Republic of Korea for the 2012 summit.
Sweden is a major contributor to anti-smuggling efforts. In February of 2012, Sweden welcomed an IAEA IPPAS mission, and has since requested a follow-up mission. It supports the EU CBRN CoEs and hosted the second INTERPOL Radiological and Nuclear Trafficking and Terrorism Conference in April of 2012. At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, Sweden announced that it shipped its remaining plutonium stockpile back to the United States. Belgium and Italy said they intend to return excess plutonium to the United States in 2014.
Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) and plutonium can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. However, HEU is also used in research reactors and for medical isotope production. Plutonium is used by some countries as fuel for nuclear power plants. The leaders gathered at the Nuclear Security Summit aim to minimise the use of these materials, the amount kept in storage and the number of storage locations, keeping in mind the uses beneficial to mankind. The leaders gathered at the Hague Nuclear Security Summit agreed on working to prevent nuclear terrorism by:
- Reducing the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world
- Improving the security of all nuclear material and radioactive sources
- Improving international cooperation
More on NSS 2014 results The United States will host the Nuclear Security Summit in 2016 in Chicago. Continuous efforts are needed to achieve our common goal of strengthening the international nuclear security architecture and we recognise that this is an ongoing process.
NSC Press Remarks by President Obama at Closing Session of the Nuclear Security Summit: .. we should recognize this next summit will be a transition summit in which heads of state and government are still participating, but that we are shifting towards a more sustainable model that utilizes our ministers, our technical people, and we are building some sort of architecture that can effectively focus and implement on these issues and supplement the good work that is being done by the IAEA and others.
Read The Hague Nuclear Security Summit Communiqué on 24 and 25 March 2014.
Watch Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt´s video statement on the opening of the Hague Nuclear Security Summit 2014.
EU and US leaders will meet on Wednesday 26 March in Brussels for their regular summit.