Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2012: Nuclear Summit 2012

  • The heads of as many as 53 nations, including India, are expected to attend the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on March 26 and 27.

  • The first such summit was held in Washington in April 2010.

  • there are about 150, 000 weapons worth of fissile materials lying around in the world as compared to the five to 25 kg needed for a weapon. Already, 20 cases of theft or loss of such material have been discovered. Clearly this is a very dangerous situation. The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) was designed to bring high-level political attention to this vital but hitherto obscure problem of nuclear materials security.

  • Was the first NSS in Washington a success?

  • To start with, the very fact that such a summit took place was a success in itself.

  • That summit reached a consensus that nuclear terrorism is among the top global security challenges and that strong nuclear material security measures are the most effective way to prevent it. This may not seem like much, but getting 47 nations to agree on any nuclear issue, however innocuous, is not always easy.

  • In addition, 29 of the countries present made voluntary commitments to enhance nuclear security.

  • Country-specific steps-colloquially termed ‘house gifts’ -were taken ahead of the summit. Thus, Chile removed all its Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) -18 kg-in March 2010, while the Philippines joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

  • Several countries, including India, announced that they would create new ‘centres of excellence’ to promote nuclear security technologies.

  • Since then, several countries seem to be on track towards meeting their commitments by 2012.

  • Reportedly, approximately 60 per cent of these national commitments have been completed, and notable progress has been made on the rest. For instance, Kazakhstan has secured enough material to make 775 nuclear weapons, Russia has ended its plutonium production and signed a plutonium disposition protocol with the U. S. Ukraine has removed over half of its HEU and so on:

Energy centre in Haryana

India has also made some progress, albeit slowly, on its commitment to set up a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership. It announced that the centre will have a 200 acre campus in Bahadurgarh, Haryana and comprise four different schools covering nuclear security, nuclear energy systems, and radiation safety.

Securing all materials

  • Unlike Washington, Seoul 2012 may choose to address the securing of all radioactive materials, and not just fissile materials.

  • A suitcase full of such radioactive material (the so-called dirty bomb) if exploded in a public place would, in addition to killing some people and polluting the neighbourhood with deadly radiation, also create enormous panic resulting in massive stampedes and more casualties given the public's extreme fear of radioactivity especially after Fukushima.

Courtesy: The Hindu