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Seoul Dilemma: Nuclear Power Production And Nuclear Security – OpEd

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By Igor Siletsky

According to analysts, the coordination of efforts to fight nuclear terrorism is the most important result of the recent Seoul summit. No one expected any breakthrough solutions from the forum. The most important thing is that officials from more than 50 countries have started to jointly discuss nuclear non-proliferation. The Voice of Russia has the details.

Nuclear technologies have recently become a breakthrough in the world that consumes increasingly large amounts of energy. The military was the first to use the discoveries by nuclear scientists. But then, the leading powers’ nuclear parity proved a main factor in warding off a new global war.

But humanity is increasingly aware of the dangers resulting from nuclear power generation for peaceful purposes. There was the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident of 1986, nuclear power plant accidents in the US and France, and also last year’s Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, to say nothing of the uncontrolled development of nuclear technologies, which may turn nuclear power generation into the genie that’s been released from a bottle. This is one of the reasons why the world community is concerned about Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programmes.

The issue was taken up in Seoul, which played host to last week’s meeting of the Heads of State and Government, as well as experts from 53 countries. But officials from Teheran and Pyongyang had not been invited to attend the nuclear security forum, which, Moscow feels, was the only drawback of the Seoul summit. It is clearly necessary that all interested parties should be involved in the discussion of nuclear power generation problems, said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and elaborated.

“It wouldn’t be bad, if the countries that are the talks of the town were more actively involved in discussions to that end, Medvedev says. Let’s hope that they will return to the negotiating table sooner or later, and we will be able to go on with the dialogue, both in the existing international formats to take up the nuclear programmes of Iran or North Korea, and in some extended formats. We will bend every effort to that end.”

As he summed up the results of the Seoul summit, Dmitry Medvedev said that he is generally content with the event. The Russian President pointed out that Moscow had both initiated the creation of a new legal framework, updating the existing related conventions, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety and Security, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and put forward the idea of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Medvedev pointed out that some countries are in no rush to ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which the United Nations adopted back in 2005. But it’s important that efforts to that end continue to be made. The efforts have thus far resulted in a communiqué featuring a set of fresh measures to counter nuclear terrorism.

Yet another important decision is that Russia and Kazakhstan will start, with the US assistance, to rehabilitate the area of the Semipalatinsk nuclear proving range, – one of the world’s biggest nuclear test grounds in the past. The nuclear powers have also agreed, during the Seoul summit, to reduce the use of enriched uranium to the minimum by late 2013, in what proved still another landmark decision by the forum.

No less important was the discussion of the US deployment of its nuclear missile shield in Europe. The Russian and US Presidents failed to reach specific agreements on the issue during their meeting in Seoul. Moscow will continue the dialogue on missile defenses with Washington, and will bend every effort to prevent developments from following a negative scenario, Dmitry Medvedev told the concluding press conference.

“The dialogue has never discontinued, the US made it clear it wanted to go ahead with the dialogue, and we clearly support this, Dmitry Medvedev said. Barack Obama and I have reached agreement that the consultations will continue, because neither Russia, nor the European countries, nor the United States, I presume, are fully agreed on all aspects of the missile defence system. The dialogue should reach its logical end. The end of the dialogue will prove favourable to us if we obtain guarantees that the US missile shield is not aimed at Russia,” Dmitry Medvedev said in conclusion.

According to some observers, the Seoul summit boasted no breakthrough decision. But then, this is only the second time that this kind of forum has been held, with the first forum held in Washington in 2010. Perhaps, the most important result is that the world community has finally pooled efforts to address nuclear security, says an expert with the Institute of International Relations Piotr Topychkanov, and elaborates.

“In the past, discussions normally had to do with nuclear powers and their arsenals, and were held chiefly on a bilateral basis, Piotr Topychkanov says. But once the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on nuclear terrorism, the issue has largely moved to the forefront. World nuclear summits like the recent one in Seoul do help to find common ground for the countries boasting nuclear technologies and nuclear weapons, to reach agreement.”

The Seoul summit has proved that despite last year’s Fukushima accident, most countries are growing increasingly aware that the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes is inevitable. It is only natural that the issues of nuclear safety, the security of nuclear facilities, and nuclear non-proliferation are growing increasingly sensitive as a result. But then, the summit’s final communiqué underscores that moves to eliminate the threats in question should not prevent any state from exercising their right to develop nuclear power production for peaceful purposes.


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VOR

VOR

VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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