Leaders adopt Seoul Communique to cite progress in anti-nuclear terrorism

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SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap/MCOT online news) — World leaders attending a second summit on nuclear security reported “substantive progress” on Tuesday in their efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism, pledging to give the United Nations nuclear watchdog a leading role to bolster atomic security, a joint statement said.

Concluding the final session of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, leaders adopted the document called the “Seoul Communique,” which also encouraged nations to minimize the use of weapons-usable uranium by the end of2013.

“We recognize that the Nuclear Security Summit is a valuable process at the highest political level, supporting our joint call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material,” the document said.

“In this regard, we welcome the substantive progress being made on the political commitments of participating states,” it said.

Top leaders from 53 nations and four international organizations, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, on Monday kicked off the two-day meeting dedicated to making the world a safer place without the threat of nuclear terrorism.

The Seoul summit is a follow-up to the first summit hosted by Obama in Washington in 2010, when leaders focused on strengthening the security of fissile material worldwide and securing against nuclear terrorism.

In Seoul, world leaders assessed accomplishments of commitments made in Washington and laid out more concrete actions to curb the threat of nuclear terrorism and illicit trafficking.

The 13-point Seoul Communique set out a number of general pledges in which nations voluntarily agreed to bolster protection of loose nuclear materials.

“We also encourage states to consider the safe, secure and timely removal and disposition of nuclear materials from facilities no longer using them, as appropriate, and consistent with national security considerations and development objectives,” it said.

In the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, calls have grown for the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to carry out more stringent inspections and for better cooperation and crisis management among nuclear regulators around the world.

The potential threat of nuclear terrorism was highlighted by the Fukushima disaster because it showcased the extent of potential damage if terrorists were to sabotage key systems of a nuclear power plant such as a power supply or cooling system, experts said.

The document reaffirmed the key role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Meanwhile, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, attending the Seoul Summit, said that although Thailand is in a nuclear-free zone, it was necessary for the kingdom to share information and create better understanding on the issue for national security and to ensure safety for the public in case of possible nuclear proliferation in the region.

Multilateral cooperation will ensure both foreign investors and visitors regarding Thailand’s security measures and anti-nuclear weapons standards, according to the prime minister.

A third summit will be held in the Netherlands in 2014.

The Thai premier and her delegation are scheduled to return to Bangkok early Wednesday.