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2016 Washington Summit on Nuclear Security

safety-symbol1The 2016 Washington Summit: Time to Open the Next Chapter in Nuclear Security Council of Councils,  Artur Kacprzyk, Analyst, Polish Institute of International Affairs Feb 24, 2016 The fourth and almost certainly final Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) will take place from March 31 to April 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. Washington hosted the first such meeting of heads of states and government in 2010, followed by summits in Seoul (2012) and the Hague (2014). Though the NSS process is about to end, the struggle to prevent nuclear terrorism is not, and at present there is no vehicle with which to carry these efforts forward in a concerted manner. The NSS process has led to significant achievements in securing nuclear materials worldwide, but much more remains to be done.

As terrorist threats persist, nuclear and radioactive materials in numerous countries are still vulnerable, and the international nuclear security architecture continues to be fragmented and predominantly based on nonbinding measures. Although the last summit cannot conclusively resolve nuclear security problems, it presents leaders with an opportunity to chart a new direction of cooperation that would comprehensively address underlying challenges and ensure NSS’s enduring legacy.

Successes of the NSS Process

The NSS process was launched in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague, in which he described the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security” and pledged to lead an initiative to lock down in four years worldwide stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium—materials that could be stolen and used to construct a nuclear weapon. Both HEU and plutonium are used for both military and civilian purposes.

Falling short of reaching the four-year goal, the NSS has still enabled progress in multiple areas. ………

NSS Shortcomings and Flaws in Nuclear Security Architecture

Despite NSS accomplishments, the process has also suffered from a number of shortcomings, compounded by current adverse international factors. According to the recently published NTI Nuclear Security Index 2016, progress in the implementation of NSS goals has slowed. This is partially due to a series of crises distracting leaders’ attention and summit fatigue. This trend will likely worsen without an appropriate successor to the NSS. At the same time, twenty-four countries still hold nearly two thousand tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials.

So far, one of the most notable shortcomings of the NSS process has been the lack of fundamental changes to global nuclear security architecture. Despite a growing number of ratifications, membership in key international agreements remains limited. Ninety-three states are party to the International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, while the 2005 amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) requires twelve more ratifications to enter into force. Additionally, more specific security standards contained in IAEA guidelines are voluntary and not universally implemented. The same applies to IAEA review missions. Above all, there is no obligatory and comprehensive system that would hold states accountable for their nuclear security commitments and require them to share necessary information……….

Conclusions and Recommendations

The 2016 NSS in Washington faces two main tasks. First, participants should take new commitments on issues neglected in previous meetings, particularly related to military stocks and civilian minimization, and expand the endorsement of current gift baskets, especially the Trilateral Initiative. Second, the NSS must clearly determine the way forward for continued efforts.

There is an undeniable need for a new, broad legal instrument that would set the current nuclear security architecture in place and complement existing mechanisms by filling the gaps in terms of standards, transparency, and accountability. Nevertheless, the process of negotiating and ratifying such an agreement would be lengthy. Therefore, there is a need for an additional track of regular consultation to continue the momentum started by the NSS, energizing a wider group of countries, enabling incremental progress, and thus reinforcing parallel negotiations on a treaty………http://www.cfr.org/councilofcouncils/global_memos/p37574

February 27, 2016 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety

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