International cooperation key to nuclear security

By Shen Dingli
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, April 13, 2010
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Leaders from more than 40 countries are gathering in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit to discuss the protection of nuclear facilities and radioactive materials.

The five principal nuclear powers – U.S., Russia, UK, France and China are all parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and permanent members of the UN Security Council.

But several other countries also have nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan, and North Korea have carried out nuclear tests and openly declare they are nuclear weapons states. Israel is known to have nuclear weapons but has never formally admitted it. Many other countries have nuclear programs for civil use.

The summit will discuss how international cooperation can mitigate threats to the security of nuclear facilities and material.

Attacks on the nuclear facilities of India or Pakistan, for example, would cause severe damage to those countries and their neighbors. The attacks may come from rival states or terrorists. If nuclear material falls into the wrong hands it could threaten not only South Asia but the entire world.

One of the top priorities in Washington will be how to prevent unauthorized access to nuclear facilities. The international community is particular concerned about the risk of security breaches by disloyal or disaffected personnel.

A joint statement on combating the illegal trade in nuclear materials and enhancing the role of the IAEA has reportedly already been drafted. But the chief concern of the U.S. is containing Iran and preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons states effectively maintain strategic checks and balances on each other. But nuclear facilities are proliferating and the international community has yet to devise a technology that can safely and permanently store nuclear materials and nuclear waste.

China has taken part in almost all initiatives on nuclear safety launched by the international community, and has conscientiously implemented UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on the illegal cross-border transportation of nuclear material.

The U.S. and China are in talks to establish a regional training center on nuclear security and the two countries are expected to launch more joint initiatives in the wake of the summit.

Other countries are also showing interest in launching bilateral agreements with China, showing that nuclear security has become a major concern for all countries, and an issue on which everyone understands the need for international cooperation.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

(This article was translated by Maverick Chen.)



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