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Seoul: agreements on non-nuclear medical isotopes the only bright spot

waste and spent fuel which are stored on an interim basis in pools of water or in casks are of the greatest concern 

agreement between the U.S., France, Belgium, and the Netherlands was made to produce medical isotopes without the use of HEU by 2015.

Korea’s Nuclear Summit a Damp Squib, Asia Sentinel  by Lee Byong-chul, 30 MARCH 2012 Little of significance despite the presence of the world’s most powerful leaders The Nuclear Security Summit held on March 26-27 in Seoul, has turned out to be a half-baked extravaganza that produced little of significance except for proclaiming the lofty goal of a nuclear-free world vision – while one of the world’s nuclear outlaws lurked just 65 km to the north, rattling rockets in the face of the world’s most powerful leaders.

Much effort has been spent in the last several months through Sherpa
and sous-Sherpa meetings at the highest political level, the 51 heads
of state and global organizations including the leaders of the world’s
most potent nuclear-tipped countries, who gathered in Seoul for the
second security summit. They issued a 2200-word Seoul Communiqué that
was long on words and short on commitment except for a series of
non-binding vows to take observable actions around the end of 2013.
They unanimously affirmed that “measures to strengthen nuclear
security will not hamper the rights of States to develop and utilize
nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

As well they should. These commitments will be supported by each of
the signatories in the hopes of promoting a global recognition that a
nuclear explosion anywhere is a serious danger everywhere, reflected
by the tragedy of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami and the
subsequent near-meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plants,
which continue to cook menacingly today, more than a year after the
temblor. Meaningfully, the leaders noted the nexus between nuclear
security and nuclear safety, while addressing these ‘different
chapters of the same book’ issues in a coherent manner.

In truth, the interface between nuclear security and safety will
likely represent another step toward expanding the perceptions of
nuclear power in a dangerous world. It also marks the opening of
broader maneuvering to counter the emerging nuclear threats of the
21st century. The United States currently has 2,100 deployed strategic
warheads, and Russia 2,600, according to the Federation of American
Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council…..

Bland commitments and sterile debates over unpredictable nuclear
threats emanating from non-state actors and over dangers beyond men’s
imagination will do nothing to fend off the opponents of the summit
who are in strong favor of eliminating all nuclear weapons and
dismantling nuclear reactors on the planet.

Equally alarming, waste and spent fuel which are stored on an interim basis in pools of water or in casks are of the greatest concern about the vulnerability of the materials to disasters like the Fukushima accident or possible terrorist attacks. Given that the effectiveness
of concrete to contain nuclear waste is much less than 100 years, it
raises rational questions about whether these sensitive materials can
be effectively stored for periods that will exceed recorded human
history so far, many times over.

Nevertheless, it is worthy to note that the Seoul Summit set a target
date of 2014 for bringing the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the
Physical Protection of Nuclear Material into force by 2014. Plus,
agreement between the U.S., France, Belgium, and the Netherlands was
made to produce medical isotopes without the use of HEU by 2015. The
move could encourage other countries to act boldly over time.

March 31, 2012 - Posted by | safety, South Korea

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