The Korea Herald


‘Summit will agree on specific actions’

By Korea Herald

Published : March 23, 2012 - 14:32

    • Link copied

Minister Kim: North Korean nuclear issue will be raised in bilateral talksParticipating

With the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit coming up in a few days, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said he expected participating countries to individually announce specific action plans to strengthen nuclear security.

“Whereas the Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 served mainly as a venue to proclaim a shared awareness of the need for nuclear security, the upcoming Seoul summit is expected to produce more advanced and concrete action plans through the Seoul Communiqu, and make tangible progress,” Kim recently told The Korea Herald.

“We expect further announcements to be made on specific actions concerning nuclear security, including the elimination and minimization of weapons-usable nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium or plutonium, the signing or ratification of key nuclear security instruments and contribution to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund.”

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on Tuesday. Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on Tuesday. Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald

On Monday and Tuesday, Korea will host the nuclear security summit as a continuation of the first nuclear security summit held in April 2010, led by U.S. President Barack Obama, to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

The Korean government expects that 10,000 people, including delegations, reporters, nuclear experts and volunteer workers, will gather in southern Seoul for the largest diplomatic event in Korean history.

Besides the existing agenda on how to prevent nuclear terrorism, the Seoul summit adds two new items to the agenda: how to ensure the safety and security of radioactive materials widely used in people’s daily lives, and how to create “synergy” between nuclear security and nuclear power safety, following the meltdown of three reactors in Fukushima, Japan.

To South Korea, which is to stress the safety of nuclear reactors at the Seoul summit, the recent incident at the Gori-1 nuclear power plant was a major setback.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, the operator of the atomic power plant, reported the Feb. 9 power outage to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission only a month later in March.

Kim said the incident was a good lesson for South Korea.

“The accident at the Gori nuclear power plant served as a reminder of the importance of nuclear safety in the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Kim said.

“At present, we are conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of this accident. We will have to make use of the lessons learned to prevent the recurrence of similar accidents.”

Kim said Korea’s hosting of the summit itself attests to the international community’s confidence in Korea’s exemplary practice in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. 

As the fifth-largest nuclear power producer in the world, Korea will introduce to participating states how Korea enhanced transparency and accountability in nuclear safety, including the establishment of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission last October, an independent agency that oversees nuclear safety and security issues, he said.

Although the Seoul nuclear security summit involves talks about how to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of non-state actors such as terrorists, the North Korean nuclear issue will be naturally mentioned on the sidelines of the summit, Kim noted.

“As major leaders including the leaders of the participating countries in the six-party talks will attend the Seoul summit, the North Korean nuclear issue will naturally be discussed on separate occasions such as bilateral talks on the margins of the summit,” Kim said.

President Lee Myung-bak is scheduled to have around 25 bilateral summits starting Saturday.

“The very fact that 58 world leaders are gathering in Seoul to engage in discussions on key nuclear issues will serve as a unified message from the international community that the North should eliminate any material it may possess,” he said.

To make the Seoul summit a success, the Korean government has made efforts to raise public awareness of the significance of the event, Kim said.

Working with government officials, about 800 volunteers are serving as liaison officers, e-reporters and logistics operators.

According to the organizers, some 3,800 journalists from 39 countries have completed the media registration as of Friday to cover the event.

On Monday at dinner meeting, participating leaders will first review the progress in the commitments made by 30 or more countries at the 2010 Washington Summit on voluntary national measures to enhance nuclear security, Kim said.

After a Tuesday morning session and luncheon meeting, leaders will adopt the Seoul Communique, which will identify specific goals and practical measures to realize the vision of a “four-year lockdown” of all vulnerable nuclear materials, he said.

By Kim Yoon-mi